In the movies, when someone is buried, you know exactly where they are going to end up. But in the world of reality, things are a little more complicated. Exhumation occurs when an individual has buried again for any number of reasons – such as example because a second burial was desired but not originally permitted by law or available at their first burial site. In most places in the world today, once a person has been buried and their coffin sealed, it’s almost impossible to access their remains again. Unless there’s something illegal or suspicious about their death, that usually means that once an individual is buried in one place, they will always be buried there – unless there’s good reason to exhume them once more. But why would anyone want to do that? Well, perhaps you have family members who fear being buried without the right protections in place so they want to make sure they can be exhumed again easily if necessary. Or maybe your spouse died and you want to be able to bury them again if you meet someone new whom you’d rather spend eternity with instead. And while it might seem strange and certainly doesn’t happen on a regular basis as we see it in films like The Mummy and shows like American Horror Story: Cult which both involved exhumed bodies as plot points recently – it does happen from time to time. So what does an exhumed body look like?
What Does An Exhumed Body Look Like?
When a body is being buried, it usually gets put into a casket – which is a box that’s designed to protect the individual’s remains and keep them safe. The casket also has a seal on it so that it’s difficult to open after the person has been buried. However, if a body is exhumed again, the casket isn’t always used during the second burial. Exhumed bodies are often buried in a simple cloth or paper wrapping or even just a shroud. The reason for this is twofold: one, it’s easier to process a second burial than a second casketing if the deceased wasn’t in a casket the first time around anyway. And two, because it’s easier to reopen a coffin and rebury someone again than it is to unseal a casket.
How To Identify A Body That’s Been Exhumed?
Is it a casket?
Caskets are designed to protect the body and keep it safe. However, if the casket is unsealed after the burial, then there’s a good chance that exhumed body will be in one. So if you think you might be dealing with an exhumed body – check to see if there are any signs of a casket. If so, then you’re probably dealing with someone who has been exhumed at some point in the past.
Is it wrapped in cloth?
If an exhumed body was buried without a casket, or with an unsealed one – they will almost always be wrapped in some kind of shroud or cloth to keep them safe during burial and to preserve their remains until they can be reburied. The reason for this is twofold: one because shrouds are easier to open than coffins, and two, because shrouds are more durable than paper or other materials used for wrapping bodies during burials.
Are there signs of decomposition?
When a body is buried for any amount of time – especially if they’re buried in cold climates like Russia where many people have been found frozen and perfectly preserved – it starts to decay after a while as bacteria work their way into the body and start breaking down tissue while also releasing gases that cause decomposition as well. But when someone dies and gets exhumed again, they’re usually wrapped in a shroud or other material so that the decomposition process doesn’t begin again. If the body is exhumed and there are any signs of decomposition, then it’s probably been exhumed before.
Is it missing parts?
If someone dies and exhumation is performed – they will almost always be missing a part or pieces of their body. If you find an exhumed body that looks like it may have been taken apart during burial, then they haven’t been buried in a casket and were exhumed at some point in the past.
Is it missing jewelry?
If someone dies and exhumation is performed – they will almost always be missing jewelry of some kind. Of course, this can also occur when someone dies and they were buried without any jewelry at all, but if you find an exhumed body that has lost any jewelry on them – it’s likely that they were buried without one or have been exhumed once before to be buried with something else (e.g., clothing).
Does it smell like rotting flesh?
The last thing you want to do when dealing with a potential corpse is to accidentally open them up before you know for sure that it really is a corpse! However, if you find an exhumed body that smells like rotting flesh – there’s a good chance the person was buried with them.
Is it missing teeth?
If someone dies and exhumation is performed – they will almost always be missing their teeth. If you find an exhumed body that has lost all of its teeth, then they were probably buried without their teeth in the first place or they have been exhumed before and were buried with a different set of teeth (e.g., dentures, false teeth, etc.).
Is there a lack of facial hair?
If someone dies and exhumation is performed – they will almost always be missing facial hair of some kind. If you find an exhumed body that has no facial hair at all, then it’s possible that the person has never grown any facial hair during life or was buried with no facial hair at all (e.g., shaved, waxed, etc.). If you find an exhumed body that has facial hair on them – but it’s not very much or not in good condition, then the person was probably buried with them (e.g., shaved).
Is there evidence of decomposition?
When a body is buried for any amount of time – especially if they’re buried in cold climates like Russia where many people have been found frozen and perfectly preserved – it starts to decay after a while as bacteria work their way into the body and start breaking down tissue while also releasing gases that cause decomposition as well. But if you find an exhumed body that has a lack of decomposition – then it’s likely that the person was buried with them.
Is there evidence of embalming?
When a body is embalmed, the process involves injecting chemicals into the body that cause swelling and a chemical reaction to occur. If you find an exhumed body that has no signs of decomposition or any kind of chemical reaction – then it’s likely that they were buried with them (e.g., embalmed).
Why would you exhume a body?
- If a person dies and is buried but has to be exhumed – the reason for that is because they are suspected of being a victim of foul play.
- If a person dies and is buried but you have no direct evidence that they were murdered, then it’s possible that they died after their burial and were “re-interred”.
- If a person dies and is buried but you have no direct evidence that they died during their lifetime, then it’s possible that they died after their burial and someone moved them to another location (e.g., moved them to another grave or container).
- If an exhumed body is found in an area where there’s been a lot of recent activity, then it could be related to the crime (e.g., if someone was murdered recently, then there would likely be lots of activity near the body before discovery).
- If an exhumed body is found in an area where there’s been little recent activity, then it could be related to the crime (e.g., if someone was murdered decades ago, then there would likely be little activity near the body before discovery).
What To Do If You Want To Exhume Your Loved One’s Body?
- Before the funeral – make sure that the body is undisturbed.
- After the funeral – make sure that the body is undisturbed.
- If you want to exhume your loved one’s body – make sure that you have permission from the family and/or executor of their estate (e.g., they don’t need permission to exhume a body if they are related to them).
- Make sure to leave everything as it was found when you found it, including any personal effects (e.g., clothing, jewelry, etc.).
- If you used a coffin for your loved one’s burial, ensure that it is intact (e.g., there are no holes in it).
- If you made an autopsy on your loved one at some point in their life and removed the brain or heart – make sure to put those back into place after you exhume them (i.e., if they were removed during an autopsy).
- Make sure that all of your loved one’s records (e.g., birth certificate, death certificate) are intact and legible before exhumation as well as after exhumation so that there’s no confusion with family members or others about who was buried where and when they died (e.g., if someone dies without a death certificate then members of their family could be confused about where and when someone died).
Exhumation is a messy, difficult process that can be both costly and emotionally draining. It is usually only done as a last resort when there is a pressing need to do so. Exhumation is also not something that can be done to anybody at any time. It is a sensitive and complicated process that requires the permission of a court. If you or someone you know wants to see a buried corpse after exhumation, you should be prepared for it to simply be an empty coffin.