Ask a Mortician


#1

Hello, everyone. I’m making this thread as an outlet for genuine and serious questions in regards to my line of work (dealing with the aftermath of death/homicide/suicide). While jokes are always welcome when tasteful, this is a serious thread for people who have genuine questions. No question is dumb, or too dark. I encourage openness and curiosity.

For those who do not know me on the forum, I am a mortician and embalmer who assists the coroners and police with embalming/autopsy reports and I also help collect forensic evidence (I’ve even done some lab analysis as well).

We all have a morbid curiosity for death, dying, suicide, murder, etc. (not committing it, but the act itself) - It’s normal to feel that curiosity because it allows us to comprehend our own mortality and develop a sense of self-preservation and awareness.

For example, lots of people have asked me if dead people can actually sit straight up. We’ve all heard stories like this, where people swear to the grave that the deceased sat straight up due to rigor mortis (the contraction of the muscles due to lactic acid buildup in muscle tissue). Well, what’s the deal? Who’s pulling your leg and who’s telling the truth? The honest-to-god truth is that no, it doesn’t happen like that at all. If people are skinny enough (for example an elderly person who had dementia and stopped eating) then they will have a very light body weight due to lack of water/moisture. When they die, C02 builds up in the muscle tissue and [chemsitry] and that causes the muscles to tense up about 1-8 hours after death for as long as 24-48 hours. If there’s not a lot of body mass on the deceased when their muscles tighten, it could result in their back and shoulder muscles pushing their upper back off the table by about 1-3 inches. This gives them the illusion that they are “slightly rising off the table”, but only if you’re terrified by the sight of it. It’s very uncommon and not at all the “undead rising off the table” image people paint in your minds.

I’ll put an end to those burning questions you’ve had but weren’t sure who to ask. If it relates to death, dying, embalming, and biology/anatomy, I can help answer your question :slight_smile:


#2

What is nastiest or creepiest or most disguisting thing you ever faced in your line of work?
How did you feel the first time you had to deal with dead body?


#3

Now you have the potential to be a real Hitman, being used to dead bodies. Sorry for the joke.

Interesting job you have. One question I have is not about the bodies but about you if you want to answer. Do you have nightmares? In a relationship, I mean during your private times with the partner, do you have some difficulties after work?
And what made you want to do this job?


#4

Awesome thread, thanks for creating it. I have 3 questions, if I may :slight_smile: These aren’t about death but more about you and the job itself. I will think of some good death questions.

How/Why did you get into this job?

What did you do at College/Uni?

When you were a child/teen, what did you think you were going to do or what did you want to be when you were older?


#5

Is it hard to go home and kill people and drag around bodies in Hitman after a days work?


#6

My girlfriend always wanted to be a mortician (she’s since become a sculptor that works with animal bones). She’s compiling a list as we speak. As for my personal question. Have you ever felt the need to say something to a loved one of the deceased? Have you seen/experienced something so horrible (child death/brutal attack victim/sad suicide/someone you knew) that you’ve been unable to perform your duties? Do you believe your job is more emotionally stressful than others? Or do you get used to it like anyone else in any line of work?

Thanks a lot for the thread. This has broken a lot of misconceptions for me. You don’t seem antisocial or a loner. In fact you’re one of the friendliest and more thoughtful people on the forum.


#7

Are you affected by necrophilia?


#8

I know I shouldn’t laugh but it just came up like that out of nowhere and it was hilarious to read


#9

This is an awesome thread, everyone else has asked the main ones.

What is the longest length of time you have found a body after their death?

How bad is the smell and do you get used to it or is it always hard to bare?

What is the strangest circumstances you have found a body in/ a person has died in?


#10

I know this is inappropriate but I’m going to assume you’ve never thought about fucking a corpse, but have you ever found a corpse attractive?


#11

Wasn’t there a whole riot on reddit because there was a subreddit community posting pictures of cute dead girls? I guess there is kink for everything in this world, which scares me a bit.


#12

Thats disgusting, I hope that got shut down.


#13

Great thread, I know we all have a morbid curiosity about these things. So, I’ll weigh in.

  1. Is Quincy M.E. your favorite show of all time? I loved that show, Jack Klugman was awesome.

  2. How much of this CSI “forensic analysis” that we see on TV is bullshit? I mean from “Well, Jim, we know that it was a machete struck down at a 23-degree angle, indicating an assailant more than 6 foot 3 …” to “I have no idea how he got that gash on his arm, coulda been a steak knife or meat cleaver for all I know.”

  3. Have you ever had to testify in court?


#14

what is the worst condition you’ve seen a body in And is there anything that you aren’t able to handle?


#15

I have some autopsy photos, pretty gruesome stuff


#16

Looks like you have your work cut out answering all these questions @Mr.46 :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:.


#17

I am SO excited to answer all of these questions!!

I’m heading off to work now but in about 5-6 hours I’m going to log on and sit down and have a massive answering session for you guys. I’ll reply in chronological order and provide detailed answers.

Have a great day guys, talk to you soon!


#18

All jokes aside, ‘Forensic analysis’ is a very broad field of expertise. From autopsies to DNA, fingerprints analyses and ballistics, it isn’t all done by the same person. It’s a very niche expertise.

I would say there’s some basis of authenticity in the show, but that’s about it. The major flaw I find about the show and why I do not watch it, is because everything is so easy and simplistic. Also, the ‘real’ csi folks, usually, aren’t cops, but civilians, then don’t carry guns and have don’t the power to arrest or interview people.

For your questions about the knives. You can slash and you can stab. If it’s a ‘clean’ stabbing wound, you can actually make an estimation about the weapon used. But there are a lot of variables to take in account for. Depth, length, manner of strikes, stabbed or sliced in the same place multiple times, etc.
In short, the blade of knife can tell you a lot; if it’s teethed or not. For example if the wound has 2 sharp points it’s most likely a dagger, if it’s only 1 it’s most likely a knife.

That’s normally the coroner’s responsibility.

(Minored in forensic medicine and criminalistics)
flies away

@Mr.46 Sorry for hijacking your thread.


#19

Banned until 2049.


#20

I’ve got one as well. How do you embalm a body who’s been autopsied? I’m don’t know what’s the autopsy procedure in Canada but here after the coroner is done with the body all the removed organs are put back inside before it’s closed up. So since the organs have been detached from the circulatory system, the embalming fluid won’t go through them to preserve the tissues. How to do prevent the organs from starting to smell after 2-3 days?