What Happens To Skin?

 Over the weekend my brother and I got together so he could tell me some gross stories that I can relay to you, because let’s face it, as gross as it is, it’s still interesting. I think a lot of people are curious to know what really happens to a dead body, especially if it’s been dead for awhile…and it ain’t pretty (just warning you).

There was a woman in our neighborhood named Dorothy and she was blind. She had a dog for years, and then I guess the dog died because as I got older, I only remember seeing her with a cane. My dad always told us to say “Hi Dorothy,” and use her name so that she knew that we knew her. I would always see her on her way to church. Of course, when you have a distinctive handicap such as blindness, people start to identify you with that, so we always referred to her as “Blind Dorothy.” Is that wrong? I mean, not to her face. We wouldn’t say “Hi Blind Dorothy.” It was if she happened to come up in a conversation.  You know what I mean, right?

I briefly taught a tap class to blind kids at the Braille Institute in Hollywood. It was incredible how they could learn from me telling them how to do it and listening to the sound of the taps. Their hearing and other senses are so developed. I’m amazed by blind people. If Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder can play the piano like that, why can’t I? What do I have to do, poke my eyes out? Plus, they have no way of judging a person based on appearance like everyone else does, which means they can still like you no matter how ugly you are 🙂 

Back to the story. After many years in our neighborhood, Dorothy died and we got the call. The unfortunate part was that she was found after she had been dead for awhile. My brother had to pick her up and he had to go to the city morgue to do it.

There are three different stages of death; livor mortis, rigor mortis and algor mortis. If a body is not embalmed or cremated quickly the body putrefies. I will expand on this in another post. It’s so disgusting, but you have to know.

In Dorothy’s case, she had been dead for about a week and what happens after someone has been dead that long, is that the body becomes very discolored and blood-tinged blisters start to appear. The skin loosens and comes off in sheets; these are called “skin slips.” Hello? Are you eating? I hope not.

When my brother and the orderly were getting ready to lift Dorothy on to the stretcher to take her to the funeral home, John got down by her ankles. As he grabbed her ankles, her skin came off in his hands! Of course, he had gloves on but still! I asked him what’s underneath the skin and his answer was simple…“GOO!”

Holy Jesus! How nasty is that? Again, why I never worked in the business. When my dad and brother  told me these stories, I just couldn’t imagine doing that willingly. If someone’s skin came off in my hands, that’s it, I’m done. Check please!

Of course, I’m assuming this is why most of us don’t do it.  I’m completely cool with looking at gross things, but smelling them or touching them is where I draw the line…and just so you know, I feel the same way about people on the train.

I know the reality of some of this stuff is pretty harsh, and thanks to my brother, there’s more where that came from. I feel I would be doing you a disservice if I only told you the funny stuff and didn’t gross you  out at least a little bit.  Speaking of gross, did you watch Fear Factor last night? Would you dive into bloody cow hearts for $50,000? Would you eat horse rectum for $50,000? Would you ride the train naked for ten bucks?

I gotta go make my breakfast….have a great day!



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.

5 Responses to What Happens To Skin?

  1. The elder sister says:

    I liked the part about the blind talented people the best! I’m feeling a bit green around the gills after that one!

  2. Theresa says:


  3. mdonohue says:

    Nasty story!I do hope they will be few and far between.Love to you,Mom

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