A disgusting question on decomposition.

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SablePoint

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Last night we went to the cemetery to put flowers on my grandma's grave for mother's day. Well, while we walk around, a strong foul odor was coming from the building were bodies are put into walls. It smelled like dog crap, vomit, and dead fish mixed together - basically something rotten.
Even though the nose-raping smell was enough to make you vomit, I was interested into knowing where it came from. I followed the smell and it lead me to one of the wall graves. There was a crack in it. I took a quick whiff of the crack and it was like a blow to the face. Ick!:vomit:

There was green stain arournd the crack with some splattered on the ground and some light brown stains on the grave it's self.

I guess it was the smell from the dead body in the grave, but she died in 1987 - wouldn't you think she wouldn't really smell that foul? I mean she's been in there as old as I've been alive, she would of been fully decomposed.

We're going to call up the cemetery later to inform them about this.

Any answers to this? Sounds gross, just curious. lol
 

nermal71

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If the crack is recent that is why she was starting to smell. If I remember right those wall graves are pretty much air tight so the bodies don't decompose as fast. With the crack there it is now letting in air. Air has all sorts of organisms in it and allows them to survive. So the bugs etc which aid in decomposition can now survive on the body and begin to break it down. I would call the cemetary caretakers...they have a big problem that needs to be taken care of before it causes disease.
 

degrassi

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With modern embalming and caskets you don't decompose like you would normally. So in 20 years your body can still be in fairly good condition. Look at the times when police have to exhume bodies and it can be like 30 years later and there is still a body there and the casket is still there too. Its not like you decompose and turn into dirt in a few years, for that to happen you have to not be embalmed and not be in a casket.

But I would definitely contact the cemetery. That is something that needs to be taken care of quickly. I can only imagine how bad a dead human smells, when a dead mouse stank up my garage for days until I found it. So nasty :vomit:
 

Yield

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[align=center]I would have cried D; You're brave! Definitely contact the cemetery people!
 

kuniklos

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There are great answers here. I focused on forensic anthropology for awhile and graduated an archaeologist. I had a few internships at the county morgue and also with a family's funeral home. I deal with much older dead people now than newer ones. XD

It's absolutely true that people are often interred in such a way that they don't decompose the way they are supposed to. Leaking mausoleums are not terribly uncommon. Caskets are generally air tight, or near to. As we decompose gases escape our body, but in this case they build up and eventually pop the casket somewhere. Fluids begin to leak out.

Contacting the cemetery is a good start. The fluids are only hazardous because of embalming fluid. But unembalmed bodies are not heath hazard because all the bacteria that breaks down the body is already present in living people. I would make a point not to touch it either way. Yes it's been over 20 years, but I have worked on a body that was buried in the 60's and it was still fleshy (granted it was in plastic bags and in pieces, but was air tight).

Yes, dead people smell nasty, but the smell won't harm you. The smell itself would go away in a few days when they open the casket. Bodies actually don't smell bad for very long. Only for about 2-3 weeks.
 

Luv Buns

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Humm.. this could help me lose those pounds I want off so bad. lol. Want candy?? Go read this thread. lol Problem solved! Look at that, a 2 in one for questions answered. :p
 

SablePoint

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Ick! Thanks for the answers! Interesting though. I forgot about the the embalming fluids. The care takers were not available today so we're going to call them tomorrow.
 

irishbunny

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Wow, that is gross and I imagine quite upsetting for people visiting the grave yard. If I was a family member of that deceased person I think I'd be really upset by the smell from the grave as well.
 

Bluesmaven

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Now this is right up my alley. I love cemeteries!!! I highly doubt it is anything from the body buried there. It might be an animal that got caught in there and died or it might be a bit of vandalism that pranksters think is funny. I have seen a lot (way too many) vandalized cemeteries and it makes me angry! In a regular grave there is a concrete grave liner then the casket goes into that. Then there is the adipocere which is the fat that has been known to leak out of mausoleums. That might be what you saw but it's usually clear to white and fragrance free for the most part. My money is still on vandals.
 

AngelnSnuffy

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Just wanted to pipe up and say gross and lol. I've been following the Casey Anthony trial. All the pre-trial publicity was talk of the smell of decomposition, something you will never forget. And, plant growth, or, anthropology: forensic. Very interesting stuff!
 

kuniklos

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Bluesmaven wrote:
Now this is right up my alley. I love cemeteries!!! I highly doubt it is anything from the body buried there. It might be an animal that got caught in there and died or it might be a bit of vandalism that pranksters think is funny. I have seen a lot (way too many) vandalized cemeteries and it makes me angry! In a regular grave there is a concrete grave liner then the casket goes into that. Then there is the adipocere which is the fat that has been known to leak out of mausoleums. That might be what you saw but it's usually clear to white and fragrance free for the most part. My money is still on vandals.
Adipocere doesn't leak. It's waxy and solidifies. It's also known as Grave Wax, or Grave Soap.
 

kuniklos

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I've handled about 40 or 50 bodies in a few different environments with adipocere (exhumations, murders, and historical bodies) and I really have yet to see them leak at that stage. Bodies with adipocere are beyond leaking.

However, leaking pre-adipocere can result from a Ph change and breaking down of tryglycerides in the body. This produces the glycerol and free fatty acids which can be very smelly. This is also something similar that happens in black purtifiction (which is so, so, so much more nasty). Essentially the liquids/lipids in the fat breaks down and secretes early in decomposition leaving behind the fatty content that is the adipocere. But the adipocere itself does not leak.
 
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