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Old 04-18-2004, 03:52 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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Eyes Wide Shut (re: Dead Folks)

You always see in the movies and on TV people gently brushing their hands over the eyes of dead people, and closing them. That always seemed suspicious to me; today I read reporter Will Fowler's Times obit. He was the first reporter on the scene of The Black Dahlia murder. Fowler's daughter says, "The one thing that bothered him about the whole thing was her eyes were open and he closed them."

OK, now I know undertakers have to sew or glue corpses' eyes shut (and pad them as well) for viewing. Is it really possible to get someone's eyes to just close by closing them? Wouldn't they just spring right open again?
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Old 04-18-2004, 07:39 PM
Ale Ale is offline
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The muscles that control the eyelids (Orbicularis Occuli and Levator) on their relaxed state (as in dead) are not in tension when the eyes are closed, that´s why the eyelids don´t spring up.
As for undertakers sewing or gluing (eek!) them, I guess is to prevent rigor mortis of the Levator muscles to open the eyes and scaring the crap out of the mourners.
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Old 04-18-2004, 08:24 PM
olefin olefin is offline
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I watched my wife gently close her dad's eyes after death. They stayed closed.
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Old 04-18-2004, 08:34 PM
Cillasi Cillasi is offline
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Actually, during the embalming process, the eyes of corpses are removed and replaced with glass or plastic orbs. Then the eyes are sewn shut.
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Old 04-18-2004, 08:58 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cillasi
Actually, during the embalming process, the eyes of corpses are removed and replaced with glass or plastic orbs. Then the eyes are sewn shut.
Where is this practiced? Most embalmers use plastic eye caps inserted under the the lids to hold them shut.
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Old 04-18-2004, 09:38 PM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Sewing? Plastic? Bah. In my day, we used two pennies. Stylish and it helped the dead pay the ferryman for safe passage over the River Styx.

'Course, you had to declare them come tax time, and I don't think newfangled forms include spaces for them.
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Old 04-18-2004, 10:30 PM
Master Wang-Ka Master Wang-Ka is offline
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You could afford pennies?

Hmmph.

We had to use staples.
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Old 04-18-2004, 11:51 PM
Cinnamon Girl Cinnamon Girl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Master Wang-Ka
You could afford pennies?

Hmmph.

We had to use staples.
Pshaw! Staples? Man, you were lucky! We had to use ABC gum.
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Old 04-18-2004, 11:58 PM
Gunslinger Gunslinger is offline
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By the way, the whole "passing a flattened hand over the eyes" is a movie thing, so the "dead" actor doesn't get poked in the eyes. To close an actual dead person's eyes, you'd have to put a finger on the eyelid and pull it down.
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Old 04-19-2004, 12:53 AM
MonsterOnAStick MonsterOnAStick is offline
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I've never had trouble closing someone's eyes (as Gunslinger said, you have to pull them down with a finger) during post-mortem care, but I'm embarassed to say I've never successfully closed someone's mouth. In my experience many elderly/sick people die with their mouths open, due to their final gasping attempts to breathe, and the slack jaw is extremely unnerving to family members. No matter how hard you try to give the person the stereotypical peaceful look (eyes and mouth closed, hands neatly folded, etc), the mouth hanging open is a reminder of their struggle.
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Old 04-19-2004, 03:27 AM
misstee misstee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MonsterOnAStick
the mouth hanging open is a reminder of their struggle.


When I walked into my grandmother's hospital room right after she had died, the sight of her mouth hanging open freaked me out. She looked twisted, like she was suffering when she died. Not at all like they show on tv or in movies.
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Old 04-19-2004, 09:01 AM
Eve Eve is offline
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Interesting—thanks for all the replies! I know Fowler was full of it, though, as I have seen mortuary photos of "The Black Dahlia," and her eyes were still open.

I still don't understand why, if someone dies with her eyes open, "open-eyed" wouldn't be their default position until glued shut.
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Old 04-19-2004, 09:31 AM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eve
You always see in the movies and on TV people gently brushing their hands over the eyes of dead people, and closing them. That always seemed suspicious to me; today I read reporter Will Fowler's Times obit. He was the first reporter on the scene of The Black Dahlia murder. Fowler's daughter says, "The one thing that bothered him about the whole thing was her eyes were open and he closed them."

OK, now I know undertakers have to sew or glue corpses' eyes shut (and pad them as well) for viewing. Is it really possible to get someone's eyes to just close by closing them? Wouldn't they just spring right open again?
They closed my father-in-law's eyes after he died. They were only partially open (drug-induced coma), but they had that (heh) creepy, half-dead look to them, so they closed them all the way. As I recall, they stayed shut.
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Old 04-19-2004, 10:30 AM
lissener lissener is offline
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Hah! this is funny. Ever time I see that in a movie, Eve, I think to myself That can't really be how it is. And they always use exactly the same gesture: open hand, passed over the face like prestidigitator.
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