It’s Alive?

This next post is courtesy of my brother. Since he’s laid up with a bad knee, I sat down with him and he told me the story about when he went on one of his first body removals with my dad. He was about 16 at the time and had been on a few removals already, but as you probably know by now, each one can be different.

Another body?? I just want to watch Kung Fu Theater....

This particular incident took place in a nursing home where they went to pick up the body. They would roll a stretcher into whatever room the body was in and transfer it from the bed on to the stretcher. Moving and lifting a dead body can bring some unpleasant surprises. My dad and brother rolled the stretcher into the room, and they were the only two people in the room along with the dead woman. My dad told my brother to get up by her head and he was down by her feet. My dad grabbed her ankles, but took hold of them before my brother had her head. That moved her, so as my brother went to grab her head and chin, the woman let out a big “HAAAAAAAAAAA” sound. It’s the sound of air coming out, like a long exhale ( If you’ve ever seen “Silence of the Lambs,” the same thing happens when Jodie Foster finds the beetle in the dead girl’s throat. I remember liking that the director or whoever added that detail because of the gross realism.)

I'd like some fava beans and a nice chianti....


Naturally, this scared the shit out of my brother. He instinctively pulled his hands up to his chest and dropped her head back on to the table while my dad still had hold of the feet. He looked at my dad with wide eyes and said “she’s still alive!”.

John’s reaction was so fast and scared, that naturally my dad started laughing because he was used to this weird thing happening, plus he never warned John that this might happen. So when it did, it was hilarious to my dad.  Sometimes when a person dies, there is air still in the lungs and when you move the body, the air will come out. That’s gotta freak you out the first time it happens, which is why my dad laughed, because apparently it’s bound to happen to anyone and everyone that moves dead bodies on a regular basis. 

Once my dad stopped laughing and explained that the person was in fact dead, they went ahead with the removal, but John was a bit shaken. Think about it; it’s already weird picking up a dead person, but then to have them breathe and trick you into thinking they’re still alive would really freak you out. I guarantee you I would have let out a scream…another reason why I didn’t work out well in the business.

Well, about a year later, John had to go on another removal, but by now he was a pro, and this time he was with a new guy that my dad hired part-time (he was actually dating one of my sisters). They went to the hospital to pick up the body and John took the feet, and the new guy (Rich) was up at the head. They no sooner move the body that it lets out its final breath and the Rich’s reaction was the same as my brother’s and my brother’s as my dad’s. He dropped the body and John started cracking up. It’s funny to watch someone have the same experience and reaction as you in a scary situation, plus watching anyone get scared is funny. This is one reason why my brother loves to scare people because the reaction is so honest. You’re not cool when you’re scared, so it’s like a human leveling thing. Everyone is equal when they’re scared.

This is a quote directly from my brother’s email: “By the way nursing homes were sometimes the worst because the people were usually under a Doctor’s. care, which meant we would pick them up not long after they had passed, which meant they would still be warm and loose (loose meaning flexible, not slutty). So it really reminded you that they were alive not too long ago. The smell of a nursing home sometimes is the smell of death. Death smells like, warm, hot, soiled linens, mixed with Mr. Clean and old pie or cake. Dead people in a Morgue smells like cold metal and meat, just like at the butcher at the super market! I have gagged walking by the butcher in my super market, because it reminds me of the City and County Morgues!! Yum!!!!”

So there you have it readers….how’s that for a dose of reality?  Enjoy life!





About Death To Hollywood

My name is Celeste Donohue and I am a writer/comedian who started this blog to tell stories about my life growing up in a funeral home and my adult life which I have spent in Hollywood, California – hence the name, “Death To Hollywood”. Hopefully, you like to read those kinds of stories. If not, go read something serious and boring.....
This entry was posted in death, family, funeral home, funerals, weird and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to It’s Alive?

  1. John Donohue says:

    It’s all true!!!

  2. The elder sister says:

    It’s similar to those times I’ll boil an egg and it starts making a cheeping sound!!!! Freaks me out!



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