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Odd Voices


In my early days working in the funeral industry we were not allowed to go home on our call nights at the funeral home, but then again this was before cell phones and pagers. We had to be there to make death calls and embalm cases as soon as they were brought into the funeral home's care.

As you can imagine, being the only embalmer for a funeral home that handled over 450 cases per year, I spent many nights alone, on call at the funeral home, or was required to come and embalm even if I wasn't on call. When you spend 4 to 5 nights per week there it becomes just like home (well almost).

With that being true most of us never bothered turning lights on at night as we moved from point A to point B, and just moved about by the residual light from the hallways or staterooms.

On one particular occasion we had been rather busy for the past few days and I was spending yet another call night there alone, in the embalming room, at 3:00 AM, embalming. The embalming room had 3 embalming tables, about 8 dressing tables and two entrance doors which were laid out in such a way that when you were using one certain table your back was to the doorway leading to the hallway, the other door of course led to the garage. This night was just like many before it, 6 or 7 people on dressing tables, 2 or 3 on the embalming tables, and I of course being the only living presence in the building (actually the entire block, as the funeral home and parking lot occupied it all).

I was in the process of beginning the embalming operation on a young car accident victim when I heard what I can best describe as a man and woman having a conversation in the hallway just outside the door. I could clearly hear the discussion, but could not determine what they were saying. Initially I thought that one of the other directors had stopped by for some reason, but then thought "surely not at 3:00 AM." As soon as I opened the door the voices stopped, and there was no one to be seen in the empty hall. Attributing it to fatigue I closed the door and returned to my task. Within 5 minutes the discussion began again. Again the discussion ceased as soon as I opened the door. Not really caring what was happening I closed the door the second time and returned to my work.

Within a couple of minutes I heard a piercing scream, as though someone were being tortured, emanate from down the hallway near the staterooms. This time I knew something was up and was determined to find out what. My first thought was that someone had fallen asleep during visitation and had just awakened to find they were alone in a dark funeral home.

I knew that I had to go let them out of the funeral home, so I started down the hall to find them. The residual light from the lamps was sufficient to check the casketed cases in the staterooms where friends had gathered just that evening, to see who it was that had screamed in such a harrowing manner. I found no one in the funeral home, and was returning to the embalming room when it occurred to me that they must have run out the nearest door. I then checked EVERY door to find that each was securely locked. Thinking that they must have had the sense to at least lock the door on their way out, I again started to return to the embalming room.

Having found on one, and all the doors locked, as I reached for the doorknob to the embalming room door, I saw the residual light from the one lamp left on in the lobby at the opposite end of the hallway seem to explode into a bright halo on the embalming room door. It was only then that I realized that no one could have left the building because the security alarm never sounded. Even with several bodies on tables there I spent the rest of the night in the embalming room where I felt safe. I never figured out what it was.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, MarvinScott, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

MrRiggs (7 stories) (102 posts)
5 years ago (2017-12-06)
MarvinScott - Perhaps you should consider contacting someone in the film industry and having your experiences made into a movie. You might be able to retire in comfort, sleep nights without those telephone calls, and spend time with a livelier crowd.

You seem to take your experiences in stride, accepting these things as the industry norm. As a person reading about these experiences I want to assure you, there seems nothing normal about it. I don't know that I have ever used the word "dread" in print, but you have certainly filled me with it. Terror, followed by a heart attack, comes to mind when considering being in a funeral home at 3:00A.M. To be there when the dead really walk, speak and scream transforms mere terror into something indescribable.

Please know I am not making disparaging remarks in any way regarding you or what you have brought to your readers. The things you have told us about your reality makes horror film screen writers appear inept. Truth clearly triumphs over fiction.
MarvinScott (4 stories) (25 posts)
5 years ago (2017-12-06)
Yes, I have indeed witnessed what appeared to be a decedent entering a storage area, and in broad daylight. But when you do the same job for over 30 years, you just kind of get numb to these events, they really do not have much effect on you. Kind of like the commercial about going nose blind. They actually happen frequently. Perhaps so frequently that the majority are simply ignored, such as many many times I have been alone in a funeral home and had doors slowly open, or see movement under a door on the opposite side and such. You just get to the point of like "Oh well, just go about your business and I will go about mine." Thanks for the comments and insights.
H2olily (5 stories) (157 posts)
6 years ago (2016-09-29)
Maybe have an automatic "lights on" policy whenever things start weirding up? Just a suggestion.
Dee-J (12 stories) (66 posts)
7 years ago (2016-08-06)

This is another comment from me. Every event that took place in your story was eerie, but after reading it again several times, one detail just now somehow managed to catch my attention... The part with the lamp.

In order to produce that bright halo effect on the embalming room door, to me that indicated that the lamp from the lobby must've laid down or leaned over as you were preparing to walk into that room, but given all of the odd occurrences that already just happened, I'm willing to bet one of the ghosts that were present at the time had something to do with it. Again, EERIE. What were your immediate thoughts upon seeing that?

Another thing... I was reading through some of the more recent comments and found where you mentioned something about you and fellow staff seeing what you all thought was a decedent walking down the hall towards the storage rooms, only to find the body still in the embalming room, my question to you is what was it that kept you from totally freaking out? Lol no joke, that is absolutely unsettling in every sense of the word.
Bibliothecarius (9 stories) (1088 posts)
7 years ago (2016-07-25)

My wife suggested, "That's the last time anyone has cared for them."

I rather like the idea.

Bibliothecarius (9 stories) (1088 posts)
7 years ago (2016-07-24)
Wow, Marvin. Wow. That's really, really unnerving.

Shelby, thanks for your input, too.

I've read many accounts of the deceased's spirits visiting their favorite places, or the sites of their deaths, and of residual hauntings occurring without any apparent knowledge of the passage of time, but now I'm beginning to think that I may have missed something significant in dismissing Funeral Parlors as perfectly ordinary & necessary businesses.

Off to reevaluate some ideas, now.

MarvinScott (4 stories) (25 posts)
7 years ago (2016-07-24)
Biblio, I'm not really sure what to think about why anyone would want to haunt a funeral home, or even a cemetery for that matter, but I can tell you that sometimes malevolent events do occur in both. I recall one incident in particular that was witnessed by both myself and two other staff members. 24 hours after being embalmed, all parties involved witnessed what appeared to be a decedent in the funeral home's care walking down a hallway that led to the funeral home kitchenette and family break area, and making a sharp turn into a storage area. Upon inspection the storage area was empty and the decedent still in the embalming room at the opposite end of the funeral home. May be that it is not actually the spirit of a decedent but rather demonic in nature. Either way you get to the point that you do not really pay much attention to these events, not enough to make you run anyway.

shelbyloree (5 stories) (285 posts)
7 years ago (2016-07-23)
My great uncle Dallas had a funeral parlor mid century, and my dad used to help him in the summers. Dallas was a firm believer in ghosts - he told dad they did indeed hang around and watch the funeral preparations.

The funeral parlor is not like an airport - it is the last step before being put into the ground. An eternity in the ground. So I imagine a lot of people want to make sure they are properly prepared.

It is also a transition place (between here and there) where people, like this woman apparently, are able to acknowledge their death and leave.

To me it seems that parlors would be far more haunted than graveyards, but maybe that's just me.
Bibliothecarius (9 stories) (1088 posts)
7 years ago (2016-07-22)

I'm glad you came back to fill in your responses to the ideas we posted.

With absolutely no desire to sound morbid, I'm curious for an insider's perspective: why do you think people's spirits would haunt a funeral parlor?

Cemeteries, as I stated earlier, are the site for repeated family visits & mourning, so I get the idea that the sorrow of loved ones may somehow be responsible for focusing the attention of the deceased upon his or her grave. However, funeral parlors are for observing the rituals of grieving, and an individual body is not kept there for a prolonged period; it is there for about a week, maximum? Some people's remains are in the county medical examiner's facility or a hospital morgue for longer than that!

It seems to me that haunting a funeral parlor is the supernatural equivalent to haunting an airport lounge: you've got your boarding pass, your passport's been stamped, your bags have been tagged and loaded, and now you're gong to spend eternity sitting in a comfortable but impersonal row of seats reading a magazine while waiting for your row number to be called? Perhaps I've just got a skewed idea of what happens after death (anyone familiar with my postings will be nodding quietly & slowly at this point), but I just have trouble understanding why people would do that. If you're just going to loiter after death, wouldn't a sporting arena or a theater at least provide different opportunities to observe live entertainment?

I really am just curious as to what you think, Marvin.

MarvinScott (4 stories) (25 posts)
7 years ago (2016-07-22)
Thanks for the comments and read guys, I have really never considered it but there could be some logic to the idea that the scream could have been someone realizing what was happening as Bibliothecarius, Tweed and Lady Glow pointed out.
I have many true stories of happenings in funeral homes and cemeteries that I look forward to sharing with this site. Stay tuned.
C2C (3 stories) (62 posts)
7 years ago (2016-07-18)
I'd be surprised if these were your only experiences in all the years you were a mortician. I would think they would enhance your respect for the dead and your preparation of their bodies. Obviously the work is not for everyone, but I admire you for your ability to do it. I don't know if I could. Your two related experiences certainly open the mind to possibilities beyond the norm. I enjoyed your stories very much.
Dee-J (12 stories) (66 posts)
7 years ago (2016-07-05)
Wow! That is extremely eerie. Even scarier was that the setting took place in a funeral home.

I'm with PunkysMama on this one. I don't see how you could've stayed in there. Work or not, that would've been an automatic cue to exit for me.

Btw, Tweed and Biblio have some very interesting points to consider there. Never thought of it that way.
ulvenNixie (13 stories) (39 posts)
7 years ago (2016-06-30)
Hey there MarvinScott,
This was really interesting to read. I love that your first conclusion to the scream was that someone woke up in a dark funeral parlor. I bet that would be a little scary if you weren't expecting it and grief wears people out, hardcore.

I have always been curious about what it would be like to work in a funeral home. There is a horrible part of me that hopes you have more experiences to share like this one so I can find out more about what it's like.

I loved reading this. I'm going to favorite you, just in case there's more to come.
Tweed (31 stories) (2388 posts)
7 years ago (2016-06-28)
Hi Marvin,

I figured the same as Lady Glow and Biblio.
Wonder if someone was explaining to someone else they were 'dead' (hence the talking) then showing them their body to prove it (hence the scream). The way you heard them from another room made me think they were unrelated to the individual you were working on.

Thanks for sharing, adding this to my faves. 😊
Bibliothecarius (9 stories) (1088 posts)
7 years ago (2016-06-28)
Greetings, Marvin.

I've enjoyed both accounts you've provided to date. When I taught night school classes, the college had a Mortuary Sciences program, and I learned quite a few interesting facts about the dignified treatment of the deceased from my students' research papers (the really disturbing papers were always written by the Pre-Med & Dental Hygienist students, but that's a very different topic).

I know that people have odd encounters, as in your first narrative, in cemeteries. This makes sense to me as this is where the the deceased's family would mourn his or her death. While I've never been to the "backstage" of a Funeral Parlor, the public areas have always seemed quite peaceful; I've not gotten a single odd sensation in one (the latest I've been in one was 7:30 p.m. In the summer, so there were multiple conversations and bright sunlight as factors).

I presume that no-one else in the employ of this business would have the tactlessness to manipulate the environment with -for example- a taped conversation played through speakers. The environs of the building would be conducive to playing a prank from outside the structure, but that would not account for the voices emanating from the hallway *within* the building. Even with these two options, I'd have trouble explaining how anyone could manipulate the lamp to react as it did.

I can only suggest the paranormal theory which comes to mind. The individual you were preparing had died in a car accident; your phrasing "young victim" suggests you're describing either a teenager or someone in his/her early twenties. If distracted driving had been a factor in the accident, I'd suggest his or her death had been so abrupt that the deceased had not yet realized that death had occurred. Cleaning the corpse then initiating the embalming process *may* have been enough to get the lingering spirit to finish playing out a final conversation or memory which had not ended before the accident. The scream, then, would have been unnerving because the deceased would no longer be stuck in his/her "death state" (a phenomenon which some psychics claim occurs when the spirit of someone who has been the victim of a brutal attack or sudden death simply believes that the events of his/her death are on-going without accepting the idea that life has ended). While death can be a gentle letting go of the cares of life, or the cessation of a painful illness, for someone to realize suddenly that death occurred some time ago (without the comfort of family and friends nearby) must be a horrific shock.

As I stated, this is pure conjecture based upon research into what individuals with psychic abilities have described.

Frankly, I'm impressed that you did not change careers at that point.

roylynx (guest)
7 years ago (2016-06-27)
Creepy! If I hear that piercing scream there, I will be running away screaming and crying like a little girl.
I have heard that when a person just died, some people will still be bounded with their body. Old stories told in Europe during the Plague, was that some deceased ones were dead when they are buries, but came back to life after a few days. They are treated like a vampire in a modern day TV show because they have the plague with them, in Italy some people started to put bricks in the mouth of the deceased ones to prevent them to breathe again. Just some researches.

Blessings from São Paulo

lady-glow (13 stories) (2991 posts)
7 years ago (2016-06-27)
What an interesting experience!
It makes me wonder if the piercing scream came from a spirit realizing its own death after looking at its body resting in a casket. 😐

I guess you were never really alone during those working nights.

Thanks for sharing.
PunkysMama (4 stories) (62 posts)
7 years ago (2016-06-27)
Hello MarvinScott,

Paranormal experiences are scary enough without multiple cadavers laying about! 😨 I can't believe you were able to stay in there after experiencing the piercing scream. Maybe the conversation, but the scream? I would have been out of there pronto!

I wonder if other strange things have ever happened in your line of work considering you are by so many people's remains, and some as you pointed out from people whose lives were cut short too soon! Or perhaps their death was not of the peaceful sort! 😢

Any who, many kudos to you for actually staying their and continuing working your shift! Thank you for an interesting read.

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