It was back in ’86, as the story goes, that one of our funeral directors had the ride of a lifetime. It was a funeral for an elderly gentleman, not particularly memorable because of a horrific death or a nightmare family. What made it memorable was his final ride.
The funeral director closed and locked the lid of the casket for a final time. The pall bearers came into the room and proceeded to load the casket into the hearse.
The casket was locked into place by the funeral director and the back door of the hearse was shut. All of the funeral visitors got into their cars and the funeral procession started on its way to the cemetery.
The funeral director glanced to the rearview mirror. It sounded like something had moved in the back of the hearse. “Hopefully the flowers didn’t tip over. I would hate to have ruined the flowers before we get to the graveside.” thought the funeral director.
This time the funeral director’s eyes darted to look at the rearview mirror to see what was happening in the rear of the hearse. “That isn’t the sound of flowers” he thought. “What could it be?” He continued to ponder. “I wonder if there is something caught under the back axle.” The procession came to a stop sign and the funeral director got out of the front seat of the car, and leaned down to check under the back axle of the hearse. Nothing. Perplexed, he got back into the driver’s seat and made a mental note to have the car checked out when he got back to the funeral home.
They were almost to the cemetery. He had already held up the procession once to check underneath the car. The sound seemed to be coming from the back of the hearse and not from outside the car. “Had the family put something in the casket that had gotten loose and was rolling in the casket?” He was starting to get unnerved.
He pulled into the cemetery and the entire procession made its way to the grave. The director got the pall bearers together and they lifted the casket out of the hearse and carried it to the final resting place. No noises. No thumps. The funeral director’s mind was racing, “What could that noise have been? If something had been loose in the casket, then we would have heard it when we carried the casket to the grave. The flowers were fine and nothing was loose in the back of the hearse. Maybe it was the car?”
Everyone gathered around the graveside and the minister gave the final committal. The friends of the family all said their goodbye’s while the family hung around to say a few words of farewell in private. As the deceased’s spouse approached the casket with tears in her eyes…
The funeral director whirled his head around to see the startled widow. “Oh my god, it was coming from the casket. But nothing is moving. How can this be?” thought the funeral director. The perplexed and shaken widow looked to the funeral director and asked what the sound was. The director asked her “Was there anything that you placed in the casket with your husband that could have become loose and be moving around in the casket? I heard the same sound several times on our way here from the funeral home. That is the reason I stopped and got out of the hearse at the stop sign.”
The widow replied that she had put his favorite pocket watch in his suit pocket. “Maybe it had come loose?” she posed. The funeral director had never had anything like this happen before and asked permission to open the casket one last time to check and make sure everything was ok. The widow nodded.
The funeral director pulled a casket key out of his suit pocket and unlocked the casket. He opened the lid and he and the widow both gasped. The pocket watch was in the hands of the deceased, open, to show the wedding picture of the husband and wife.
This story is entirely fictional. I made it up. Unfortunately, in our 158 years of history as a funeral home, we do not have a single ghost story. When asked about this, I generally chalk up the lack of ghost stories at a funeral home to “Ghosts want to haunt the people that were around when they were alive. They have no reason to haunt a funeral director or a funeral home. There are no emotional ties to a funeral home.”
The closest I can come to a ghost story involves a portrait of my grandfather that is in the hallway at our funeral home downtown. Every time I walk by the picture, it is slightly crooked. Every time I walk by it, I straighten it. I like to think that it is my grandfather reminding me from heaven to “pay attention to the details,” but the truth is that the hallway is fairly narrow, people bump into his picture all the time, and the hook on the picture is not perfectly centered. It probably isn’t his spirit talking to me from the grave but it really makes a nice story.
Do you have any ghost stories?
Kevin is a sixth generation funeral director. He lives in Upper Arlington, Ohio with his wife, Jennifer, sons, Foster and Ferris, and two dogs, Louie and Brutus.