Have you ever thought about what personal possessions would be removed from your person or clothing should you pass away at this very moment? I have. Not only have I given this topic much thought I have also made a mental journal of the 10 Strangest Items Removed from the Deceased that I have been responsible for.
10. Electronic Devices (Medical) / Artificial Limbs
It is no secret that many human beings, for various reasons have had to have medical devices implanted into their bodies for a variety of medical or health-related reasons. These devices range from pacemakers that keep hearts beating to tubes and mask that are inserted to try and save lives. When someone comes into the funeral in many cases these devices are still present and must be respectfully removed in order to allow for cleansing, embalming and other necessary steps to be taken. Though this is a common practice, removing these items can be and is still strange to me.
9. Contact Lenses
Contact lenses allow for people with limited sight to see and experience the world. When someone passes away contact lenses can become very dry or moist depending on various extrinsic factors. When contact lenses become moister due to humidity or being in a wet environment such as underwater they are very easily removed from the eyes. On the opposite end of the spectrum if the environment or conditions surrounding a death cause contact lenses to dry out; they can become brittle, cracked and more difficult to remove.
8. Glass, Bark, Knife Tips, Bullets, and other Debris
It is a sad fact that people in some cases die in violent and tragic ways sometimes. At times, particularly in cases where the deceased has perished in an automotive accident glass and bark often require removal from the face, hands, arms and other body parts. When someone is shot or stabbed it is not uncommon to come across pieces of metal or bullet fragments. Other debris such as leaves, gravel, dirt, and any other imaginable scrapes of organic or non-organic material may require removal based on the circumstances and environmental surroundings of a particular death.
7. Electronic Devices (Non- Medical)
Though I have personally not had experience with this myself, I have spoken to police, ambulance and other first responders who have reported removing cellular phones and other electronic communication devices from the hands of those who were killed in vehicle accidents. I cannot imagine being the one to have to read the draft or received text that caused someone to lose their life.
6. Food / Feces
People die with food in their mouths. People also expel their bladder and bowels once they pass away in most cases. It is a necessity to remove any food from the mouth and throat area as well as any other bodily purge or excrement in each and every cases regardless of how someone passes away.
People die carrying money in their wallets and in their pockets. Whether the deceased are wearing their clothes when they come in or if their clothing is delivered with the body from the medical examiner’s office or hospital it is common practice to inventory and safely secure all of the deceased possessions until they can be returned the family. I am always curious as to what the deceased had in mind, where they were going and what they were planning to purchase when I come across large amounts of money (cash, checks and other currency) in their possession when they come into the funeral home.
4. Animals, Maggots and Other Living Creatures
Death and decomposition attract animals. Maggots, flies, roaches, moths and other living creatures are no strangers to the funeral home. Speaking of other living creatures, I am also curious and disturbed when deceased come into the funeral home who passed away at home leaving their pets to feed upon their faces and fleshy extremities in order to survive.
3. Fake Identification
Fake identifications always confuse me but at the same time make me chuckle. In the few occurrences of discovering fake or false identification, I have learned that the identification of the deceased is fake when the family comes in to make arrangements or when the deceased has multiple forms of identification in their possession with their photograph on each one. Though it is not my job to investigate or learn the reasons behind the deceased living under an assumed identity, I am always curious and intrigued no the less.
I have discovered everything from weed to meth in the possession of numerous deceased. It is not uncommon at all. In many cases, the drugs and other paraphernalia are simply discarded. Believe it or not, there have been some cases in which drugs were actually put into the casket or hands of the deceased during visitation and funeralization. This always has confused me because it would not be possible for the deceased to ingest or indulge in their use.
1. Winning Lottery Tickets
By far the strangest item I have removed from a deceased person’s possession has been a winning lottery ticket. This was strange and off not only because of the amount of money the ticket was for but because of the circumstances surrounding the death (suicide) in combination with the fact that the deceased also had in their possession 3 pre-played winning scratch-off tickets bringing their total winning to over $100,000.00. Yes, I and my coworkers researched the ticket to learn of its winning status.
I have always wondered if the deceased knew that they held a winning lottery ticket. Being that they committed suicide it proved that to me that money indeed cannot buy happiness or peace of mind. In this case, the tickets were handles in the same manner in which any other personal possession would be handled by inventorying and safely securing them until they could be delivered to the next of kin.
Joél Simone Anthony, also known as ‘The Grave Woman,’ is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is dedicated to eliminating misconceptions about post-life preparation while stimulating an open, honest and straight forward discussion about death. You can submit your comments, questions and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or by using our contact page.