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10 Horror Stories About Working In A Funeral Home

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Body inverted, cellar too small, five hours late, thalasso offered… Errors and other indelicacies of the undertakers are not that rare.

1. “The funeral home made a mistake with the body!”

This Tuesday in Allex in the Drôme, while the family is gathered for a wake, the relatives of the deceased realize that the body in the coffin is not the right one. The daughter of the deceased, already in the pain of mourning, is in shock: “There are no words to describe this situation”. The family has filed a complaint. But stories like this are not so rare. Funeral professions are not the easiest, and they too make mistakes.

2. They invert two bodies

Two residents of a medical centre in Kelso (USA) died the same day. Both bodies were cared for by the same funeral home. The bodies were not immediately identified and were switched. It was at the time of the wake that the Moon family realized that the body in the coffin was not the right one.
However, the funeral home will insist. The funeral service employees, who had seen Jerry Moon’s photo on numerous occasions, realized that they had indeed seen the wrong body. But they will try to hide their mistake from the family to avoid being blamed. The Peticlerc family proceeded to cremate the deceased, but the Moon family was able to recover Jerry Moon’s ashes. The funeral home was fined $12,500 and the designated employee responsible was given one year’s probation.

3.They got the wrong urn

Two sisters thought that their mother was resting in the columbarium of Sens (Yonne). Until the day when the undertakers told them that their mother’s ashes were still stored on their premises. But what is in the urn they have been collecting in front of for the past six years? A man who should have been buried in a cemetery about twenty kilometres away. The funeral home is struggling to explain what happened. But the ballot boxes were confused. State services began an administrative investigation in April.

4.The mortician embarks a lady… ALIVE

Guillaume Bailly has been a mortician for thirteen years. He published a book (“Mes sincères condoléances”) last year in which he shares anecdotes of his extraordinary profession. In an interview, he confides a mistake he almost made when recovering the body of the deceased. “I remember with embarrassment the time I almost took an old woman away, thinking she was the dead one. She slept curled up in her bed and was very pale. But it was her husband who had died and was lying in the next room. It was a great moment of loneliness for me.”

5.The coffin is too big, the vault must be planed

While Serge’s family is at the cemetery of Boudou (Tarn-et-Garonne) for his burial, the coffin of the deceased is far too imposing to enter the communal vault. It is missing a good three centimetres. The funeral cortege will then wait for almost three hours, while the undertaker’s employees planed the vault. A friend at the funeral explains that the gravedigger had to use a jackhammer and a grinder to dig the edifice. “You have to imagine the scene, under a blazing sun, the noise and dust everywhere because of the construction site, a white sheet on the coffin to protect it, and my mother who was on the verge of collapse,” says the son of the deceased who was appalled.

6.The gravedigger falls in the hole

Gregory is a funeral director. On his blog, he recounts his daily life and in particular this afternoon when the burial takes an unexpected turn. “It was a vault full of soil, and the mound was next to the hole, without any separation, making the ground very unstable… We put the coffin over the hole, put the straps by the handles, lift the coffin slightly so that a marble mason could remove the wheel on which it was resting, move with the coffin at the end of the strap, begin the burial… and here is that the colleague who was in front of me slides on the mound to fall into the hole… It is the first time in 3 years that I see a colleague fall into the hole and pass under the coffin.”

7.They steal a corpse’s gold teeth

Four people, including three gravediggers from the City of Paris cemetery service, were indicted in 2012 for “aggravated robbery in a meeting”, “violation of burial” and “damaging the integrity of a corpse”. Their crimes? The thieves stole jewellery and gold teeth from corpses in the Pantin cemetery. They spotted the most recent graves before coming at night to retrieve valuable goods. Several dozen graves were involved.

8.A tomb bought, a thalasso offered

Funeral companies are not lacking in innovation. Proof of this is the company that offers its clients a weekend in thalassotherapy to help decompress from mourning. “After a certain stage of mourning, finding oneself in a neutral setting, to enjoy and rest, can help some people. The death of a person is a difficult thing to live through. This offer is a little extra”, explains Olivier Ricordeau, contacted by Le Figaro. A commercial approach, in a context of competition from the funeral market in Morbihan. An offer that divided the customers: when some were outraged by the proposal, others took advantage of it.

9.Late for his funeral

The ceremony was scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. and took place at 4:00 p.m. The undertakers justified themselves first by the morning fog, then by the traffic… The convoy left from Bayonne and was supposed to reach Bordeaux. The company recognize its mistake and was ordered to pay 20 000 € in damages to the relatives of the deceased.

10.He pretends to be dead to escape justice

It all begins with a death notice published in the columns of Ouest France, announcing the death of a 26-year-old boy from Alençon (Orne). The brother of the deceased contacted the funeral home before this publication to establish the funeral arrangements. Upon receipt of the death notice, the regional daily newspaper contacts the funeral home for confirmation. In the meantime, the deceased’s brother cancels the funeral home…

A macabre deception is finally discovered: the alleged deceased wanted to pass himself off as dead to escape a prison sentence. A policeman goes to the young man’s funeral. There, nobody, no funeral. The public prosecutor’s office discovers the swindle; the young man will not be found until four months later, alive and well. The undertakers fall for it, without checking the death notice of the fake deceased.

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