Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Everyone knows someone who knows someone that used to work in a funeral home or moved the dead soldiers during the war. They all have their stories. What seem to be very credible stories indeed. I believed my uncle when he told me his story from World War 2. Then I started working in this business and started to hear the same story from others. Always tweaked just a bit to fit a situation or time period. But always the same story. You know the story. Here's my uncles....

I was helping to move some of the dead soldiers, shipping them back to their families in the states. I had a young man working with me. After moving several, we heard a noise and as we turned the corpse that we had just set down sat right up with a moan. Well, all you saw after that was the bottoms of that young soldiers shoes as he was running out the door. I never saw him again.

The story sounds familiar doesn't it?

Well, I hate to be a kill joy here, but my uncle was embellishing. Before buying a hearse and getting into the hearse leasing business, we worked for several funeral homes doing a service that they call REMOVALS. They are called that because we  are the ones that they call when they need a person picked up from the place of death and brought to the funeral home. We were "removing" the body from the scene. Other than an autopsy or actually embalming the body, it is a pretty disgusting job indeed. We are usually on the scene within an hour or so of the death and if anything is going to happen. It will be to us. If the person really isn't dead, they are going to come around when we pick them up. And let's just say that ALL your muscles relax when you die. So suddenly there is nothing holding yesterdays turkey sandwich in (either end).

Here's the part of the story that is true. Often when someone is laying dead and we pick them up, a breath will come from their lungs and usually will activate the vocal cords and a moan can be heard. Whatever you do, don't breath in at that point because it is rarely a breath you'd like to smell.

I know what your thinking. This is not the brighter side of the grave. This is disgusting. Death is not a pretty thing. But, every person deserves to be treated with the utmost respect even after they are gone. It takes a certain kind of personality to do what we do. And as gross as it may be, we handle each and every person with care. When something disgusting happens, you simply don't show it. Most often, there is family and friends around. They have just experienced the loss of a loved one. The last thing they need is for you to get freaked out because you got some pooh on your gloved hand.

In my eleven years of doing this, I have yet to see someone sit up or raise their arm. Yes, after a few hours the body gets stiff. That's why it's important for us to get them into a reasonable pose quickly. I loved my uncle and all of his stories. But, this is one story that we have to take for it's entertainment purposes only.

I have many stories of my experiences in the removal business. If you are interested in them, please let me know in the comments section of the blog. For you facebookers, you can leave a message here or click over to the blog at http://brightergrave.blogspot.com/ and leave your comments there.


AJ-OAKS said...

Thanks for saying that respect is number one of the one who passed. That really means a lot. One of my daughters dated a fellow whose family were the ones who went to the place of death and picked up the body. He told me that they always held their composure in the presence of family/friends. And that when they had to pick up a child it was very hard to keep that composure.
Yes, I would like to hear more stories. You are on Facebook? Me too!

Stew said...

It is especially tough when a child dies for everyone. I know a funeral director that lost a daughter and had to leave his third generation funeral business for 10 years before returning to assist his son in starting the forth generation of the company.
For me it is difficult when anyone under 55 dies. It's just not long enough to live a full life.

Anonymous said...

And just whom taught you all these wonderful things and all the little tricks of the trade ?

Stew said...

Could it have been "Anonymous" himself? Perhaps "Anonymous" should give us a little guest post and tell us how he got started in the business. What say ye?

Anonymous said...

Back in the day..I had done a couple of "removals" when the other partner was not available. I will admit that it is not for the faint of heart and keeping my composure was one of the most difficult things. I admire your courage, dedication and your ability to share the brighter side :) I enjoy reading your blog and always look forward to new entries.

Yes Anonymous..I agree with Stew please do share!

Love From Texas

Anonymous said...

Jack said... I hope that when I go, you and Eddie will haul my ass off...and I hope I don't do anything too disgusting!