Mortellus, who is a Mortician, Necromancer, and High Priestex, joins Patrick to talk about their new book, Do I Have to Wear Black?: Rituals, Customs, and Funerary Etiquette for Modern Pagans. Discussion also includes what you need to do to prepare for your death NOW, misconceptions about embalming, and the fascinating alternatives to traditional burial, including body farms.
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This story was sent in by a very loyal and regular listener. I was given permission to share it with you. As he mentions below, “everyone is getting into the Halloween spirit”, and this is the perfect story to go along with it. You’re welcome.
I am a mortician in the Midwest and have had many experiences that could be referred to as paranormal. These types of experiences are common among people in my business, but it is very much frowned upon to speak of them. Many feel as though it is disrespectful to the families in our care to mention experiences that could conflict with their personal religious beliefs, or in some cases could very well involve their own loved one, so we keep it quiet. I have shared some of my experiences quietly among colleagues and heard a few stories in return that nearly mirror my own. Since the greatest season of them all is upon us and everyone is getting into the Halloween spirit, I feel inspired to share my very first funeral home ghost story with you, though I must do it on a condition of anonymity. The story that I am about to tell you is 100% true.
My first encounter with the spirit world inside of a funeral home took place back in 1999. I was a lowly funeral assistant back then whose duties involved greeting families, floor work at visitations and funerals, answering the phone and cleaning. One night I was working a visitation that caught me a little off guard. A small group of people arrived together for the visitation and requested that it be private. They informed us that no other attendees would be joining them, and asked that we stay out of the parlor out of respect. This in itself was not uncommon, but what came next certainly was. The building began to smell of incense and candles, which they had brought in and burned, and we could hear them chanting in unison. We couldn’t make out what they were chanting, but we were certain that it was not in English. After approximately 20 minutes of this, they all simply left. They didn’t tell us whether or not they were coming back, but as the visitation was scheduled for 3 more hours we just waited. No one returned.
The next morning it was my job to come in early, clean the funeral home up, turn all the lights on and prepare for the funeral service that would begin later that morning. I arrived at the funeral home through the garage, turned off the alarm and put on my first pot of coffee of the day. I walked into the parlor that the people had been chanting in the night before and instantly felt a very heavy presence in the room. The air was thick, as though you could actually feel it rubbing against your skin as you walked. The smell of stale incense and burnt candles was still present from the night before. I looked around to find that there was nothing to clean up or prepare, as the people had only been there for a short time. I turned the lights on around the funeral home and went back to the employee areas to begin feeding my caffeine addiction.
After reading a portion of the daily newspaper and drinking a few or more cups of coffee, nature called. I didn’t want to miss any phone calls inquiring about the morning’s funeral service, or God forbid miss a family who walked into the funeral home, so I used the small employee restroom in the back of the funeral home and left the door open to listen. As I momentarily stood there taking care of business I heard footsteps walking up the hallway towards me. I turned my head and saw a man in a suit walk by the doorway, turning his head to look at me as he walked by. I was humiliated. Here I was standing there using the restroom with the door open and a family walked in. I shouted “I’m sorry, Sir, I’ll be with you in one second.” I couldn’t have possibly been more embarrassed. I quickly washed my hands and went out to meet him. I walked to the front of the funeral home and found nobody there. “Sir” I shouted, but nobody answered. I figured he must have gone back to his car to wait until the time of the funeral before returning, so I went to the front door to check the parking lot. I pushed the door and suddenly felt my stomach drop. The door was still locked. I had forgotten to unlock the funeral home when I arrived that morning, and it hadn’t even occurred to me that I didn’t hear the door chime from somebody walking in before seeing a man walk past me. There was simply no way that anyone could have been in there other than me, and I most certainly didn’t hallucinate what I had just seen. I wandered back into the parlor, though this time the air wasn’t as thick or uncomfortable as it had been an hour or so prior. I was getting ready to walk out when something caught my attention. It was the blue suit, white shirt and red tie that the deceased gentleman in the casket had on. I walked up to the casket and froze when I looked at the man’s face. His features, his hair and his suit were unmistakable. This was the man who wandered down the hallway and turned to look at me as he passed.
The funeral went on as planned and after the director who had made the arrangements with the family took the small procession to the cemetery, I told my boss what had happened. He only laughed, not adding anything to the conversation. I know he believed me, as I was noticeably shaken up, but we aren’t supposed to talk about these things in this business, so he didn’t.
I have had several other paranormal occurrences in this line of work over the years, but none were as profound as that first one. My views on what happens to a spirit in the time following death were forever changed.
I hope you enjoyed reading about this experience. I will share another story or two in the future. I very much appreciate your podcast, and I wish you well.