"The Most Unsettling Moment Of My Career": People Who Work With Death Are Sharing The Weirdest Things They've Seen, And They Sound Like Something Out Of A Horror Movie

"The Most Unsettling Moment Of My Career": People Who Work With Death Are Sharing The Weirdest Things They've Seen, And They Sound Like Something Out Of A Horror Movie

Content warning: Discussions of death, homicide, and suicide. Some descriptions may be graphic.

On one of my recent late-night scrolls, I came across this thread by Reddit user u/LadyEmry, which asked: "People whose work involves death (e.g., paramedics, hospice carers, morgue attendants, etc.), what is the weirdest thing you've ever seen?" Hundreds of people who work around death shared their stories, which ranged from strange to weird to chilling. Here's everything they wrote:

1."Sometimes when leftover gas is leaving the body, they'll sort of groan or fart, which is really unnerving."

A healthcare professional with protective goggles and gloves examines a patient covered with a sheet in a medical setting

2."In my early days as a first responder, I was in a rural area, and we were the first on the scene. I responded to a multi-vehicle accident where a man had been decapitated; I got in the passenger side, and his head was hanging on by a few tendons on the right side. Without thinking, I grabbed his head and tried to 'put it back on.' I don't know why.

"In retrospect, I think I saw something that wasn't right, and instinct told me, 'This goes here.' The old timers laughed and teased me a few times. One of them pulled me aside and told me, 'It's not the first time someone's done that. It won't be the last.' I have heard of other people doing similar things but haven't personally witnessed it."


3."A European bloke came in three weeks after falling off a horse. He didn't go to hospital when it happened. Instead, he flew to Australia for a holiday and was admitted to our emergency ward a few days later. He had literally shattered two ribs. He was acting normal when I was talking to him, but then five minutes later, his spleen ruptured when someone tried to move him."

Chest X-ray highlighting a circular area on the left lung, possibly indicating a medical concern

4."I worked in a veterinary clinic for a while. I have witnessed the phenomenon of 'jumping ship' twice. Once, we had a cat who was old and sick brought in to be put down. She was covered in fleas, and so when we put the medicine that euthanized her, the fleas were able to tell and immediately started leaving the body in huge numbers to the point where the area around the body was black from fleas."

"The other time I saw it was when we put a dog down in the OR because exploratory surgery showed his tumor was inoperable. He had some ticks that all jumped off as soon as the drug was injected."


5."My mom was a paramedic for fifteen years and once had to do a body recovery of two teenage girls on a full moon walking through waist-high grass and fog while their wrecked van played 'Uninvited' by Alanis Morissette. She says it was one of the most unsettling moments of her career."

Night scene with a bright moon in a clear sky. The landscape includes trees and shrubs, with a structure visible on the right side. No people are present
Mikhail Galyshev / Getty Images/iStockphoto

6."Hangings are pretty horrible, but we ended up attending to a man who had [died by suicide] after killing his girlfriend. He had caved the back of her head in with a blunt object and hung her in a spare room before hanging himself. The weirdest part of it is that he didn't kill himself straight away. Her body had decomposed more than he had. The police on the scene estimated she had been dead for around four or five days before he killed himself."


7."Paramedic. Hangings are always very eerie scenes. They somehow seem staged, cinematic, and unreal. And it's odd what sticks in your memory. Like how neatly they placed their slippers beside the ladder or how rough the knot was. Hangings often extend the neck in an inhuman way."


8."I was transporting a man with liver disease and diabetes. I grabbed his arm gently to help him, and the top layer of skin slid off like a pudding. I wore my fucking gloves after that."

A person wearing a light-colored shirt is putting on blue medical gloves with a plant in the background
Edwin Tan / Getty Images

9."EMT here. Sometimes, when you do CPR, the person becomes conscious again and can talk to you while you're doing compressions. I've seen some go into cardiac arrest, and after two compressions, she woke up, grabbed the nurse who was doing the compressions, and went unresponsive again. Everyone in the room was like, 'What the fuck?!'"


10."I had a 100-year-old patient with colonic mass admitted for new compression fractures, likely secondary to metastatic cancer. The family did not want to pursue further workup, and he was placed in comfort care with a plan to discharge him back to home on hospice. He was feeling well on the day of discharge. His sons came by to make sure he got on the ambulance. Medics loaded him onto the gurney; he closed his eyes, took one more breath, and died right there."

"The sons told us later that they were actually pretty relieved because they didn't want their father to die at home because of how much it would affect their mother. I have never had a patient die while in the process of leaving the hospital. It's weird for a physician to say, but damn, what a good way to go."


11."When a person is really old, they can look dead when they are actually alive and vice versa. I walked into a room, and I could see this guy propped up in bed; his eyes were wide open, and he sounded like he was choking on mucus. So I started to suction it out, and then I realized he never started to breathe. I checked a pulse. He was dead, but his eyes were still open, like he was staring at me. I had to do the thing they show on TV, where the doctor puts their hand over the person's face and closes the eye. We left him in bed peacefully."

A doctor places a hand on the forehead of a patient lying in a hospital bed, covered with a blanket
Sasithorn Phuapankasemsuk / Getty Images

12."Not really weird, just the only thing that stands out in my mind. I work in a hospital in infection control; occasionally, I am needed down in the morgue when there is a containment issue. On this night, a body was brought in under special circumstances. A body was found in a body of water, so the patient was already swollen from that. It has been at least a few days since the time of death. This patient had no positive results from the lab, so I didn't understand why I was called in."

"This is what happened: all suspicious death autopsies are performed at a single location in my state. Since their body was found on a Friday, we were to keep the body in storage until it could be transported on Monday. This is not abnormal, but our body storage is actually just an old walk-in freezer from a cafeteria renovation years ago. After the body was brought in, the freezer broke down sometime over the weekend, and as the body warmed up, so did the gases in the intestines, resulting in the lower torso exploding onto the cart and floor. It was the most putrid thing I've ever had to be a part of."


13."I work in a mortuary. We had an older lady, maybe mid-60s, who looked like a beautiful, youthful 40-year-old from the chest up but like Frankenstein's monster below that. I'm talking about numerous heavy scars all over, misshapen areas of her torso, lots of discoloration, and fluid build-up. She looked like a lawnmower had attacked her and crudely stapled back together."

A person in surgical attire performs a liposuction procedure on a patient's marked back using a cannula

14.(Cont'd) "Second example: A seemingly healthy middle-aged guy had a heart attack and passed away early one morning. His wife and adult kids came in that afternoon to make arrangements. A few hours later, at home, while her family was eating dinner, the wife went to lie down, had a heart attack of her own, and passed away. We ended up picking up both the husband and the wife at the same time. And no, those greedy sons-of-bitches didn't offer the family a discount on the removals."


15."Paramedic here; this isn't involving death, but it's the weirdest thing I've seen. We had a psychiatric call, and I was in the back with the patient; my partner was driving. The patient looks at me and goes, 'Do you know the time?' I told the patient, 'I actually don't' (my phone was dead). The patient says, 'It's okay, it is 8:17.' Then says, 'Do you know how I know?' I look at her and say, 'You have a watch?' She then goes, 'No, Jesus told me.'"

"I then asked my partner what time it was, for the hell of it. Sure enough, she got the time right. There was no way on the truck for her to know the exact time (no clocks, tinted windows). Didn't say a damn word the rest of the ride. I made sure to tell the ER staff that Jesus talks to the patient about time..."


16."Medical student here and been in the hospitals all year. We had a patient I'd been following since her admission who had liver cirrhosis due to alcohol, and it was horrible to watch. She went from cheerful and talkative to a shaky, catatonic mess within a week. When she died, her skin was neon-yellow; I've seen plenty of dead bodies in my time, but I've never seen anything like that. Her skin looked like that yellow construction paper from elementary school."

A crumpled yellow paper square lies on a flat blue background
Aleksandr Zubkov / Getty Images

17."Not super interesting, but I've dissected a lot of cadavers, and one time, this guy's brain was completely necrosed. Idk why the brain didn't preserve, but my guess was it was part of his cause of death. BTW, the brain turns to liquid when it dies (liquefactive necrosis). We scooped out handfuls of watery gray refried bean brains and had to just leave them in his tub with him until he got cremated."

"Also, one time, a lady had chronic lung problems that caused her heart to work in overdrive to compensate, essentially. Over a long period, the heart grew (just like any other muscle that is worked), and this 110-pound lady ended up with a heart the size of a cantaloupe. But organs always have weird anomalies."


18."I went to a car accident where a man had a watch embedded in his head. He was driving one-handed when he collided, and the airbag forced the watch into his skull."


19."I had a patient die in ICU that was in his 60s or so. He was a missionary who came back early from a South American country due to abdominal pain. His bowel had perforated due to parasitic worms. When he died, the abdomen was still wiggling. I cleaned him up, bagged him, and prayed that the worms didn't come through. I hope the morgue freezer killed those things. That was the most gross thing I have ever witnessed in many deaths I have seen."

A person lying down receives a physical examination as the doctor's hand gently presses their abdomen
Ryan Mcvay / Getty Images

20."I'm a medicolegal death investigator, which is basically a forensic investigator that works at a medical examiner's office and only investigates death. This week, there was a foot found at a train yard. It turns out it belonged to a homeless guy in another state riding the rails. Somehow, it got cut off; he fell off the train and lived while his little piggies kept going and ended up in my state a few days later."


21."My husband worked in the medical field for years. Once, he was in an elevator with someone from a science donation pushing a cart. Another woman on the elevator asked what was in the cart. Without saying anything, the guy opened a drawer, which was just a drawer of torsos that were going to thoracic studies. I didn't know they cut up the bodies like that."


And lastly:

22."Paramedic here. It was my first ever time working with someone who had a cardiac arrest; I was 19 years old at the time. We get called for a 60-something man, short of breath. We get our stair chair and attempt to get him from his bed into the chair. He collapses, has a syncopal episode, and comes to a few seconds later. We attempt to sit him up so we can lift him onto the chair, and he starts exclaiming, 'Don't sit me up; I can't sit up!' I say, 'We have to get you on this chair. We need to get you down the stairs to get you on the stretcher.' He tells us not to sit him up two more times when I ask him, 'Why can't you sit up?' he says... 'I'll show you.' AND THEN HE FUCKING DIED."

"I shit you not, his last words (at the time) were: 'I'll show you...' We ended up shocking him, getting him back, got him downstairs where he died again, shocked him, got him back. We did this four or five times before getting him into the resuscitation room in the ER. Every time we shocked him, he would be back almost talking with us, but obviously still out of it since, y'know, he just died and all. I never got to ask him how he knew or what he saw since it was a crazy, dynamic call, but I'll never forget him looking directly into my eyes, saying, 'I'll show you.' He ended up walking out of the hospital five weeks later. It was so whacky."


Are you a first responder, doctor, or someone whose worked around death and have your own stories to share? Let us know in the comments.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity. 

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The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. The Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.