Are you perhaps a little obsessed with death? You can tell the truth; we won’t judge. It’s just one of those few universal experiences that will happen to all of us, so we’re quietly obsessed by it, too. But much more than quietly obsessed by death are Spencer Henry and Madison Reyes, which is why they started “OBITCHUARY.” Not only is their podcast incredibly punny, but full of bizarre death facts, strange history, and, obviously, outlandish obituaries.
No matter what queries or ponderings you have around your own demise, “OBITCHUARY” hopes to address them. From famous last words to famous last meals, Walking Corpse Syndrome to body farms and professional mourners, there’s so much to death and dying that we don’t talk about. Also, Spencer and Madison go out or their way to find the funniest, pettiest, most scathing obituaries ever published. Out of respect, they typically change the name of the deceased, but sometimes obituaries are too “badass” to keep anonymous.
But Spencer and Madison have their own questions. Like, do your hair and nails really keep growing after you die? Are exploding caskets a real thing? And what happens to unclaimed bodies? Spencer and Madison tell us that a conservative estimate of one percent of all bodies go unclaimed in a year. With 3.3 million deaths in the United States last year, that means 33,000 bodies were unclaimed and left up to others to decide how to dispose of them. But one percent is a conservative estimate! Experts say that it could be up to three percent of all dead bodies go unclaimed, bringing that number up to nearly 100,000. So, “OBITCHUARY” kindly explains to us just what happens to all of those bodies.
We also learn that back in 19th century England, surgery was in it’s infantry but becoming increasingly important in the medical community. This led to the new-found interest in cadavers in order to study anatomy. Except, as Madison tells us, only the bodies of executed murderers were allowed to be used for dissection by the Murder Act of 1752. This strict law was leading to the rise of grave robbing and illegal trade in corpses, which doctors weren’t necessarily against. But the general public was repulsed. So it wasn’t until the Anatomy Act of 1832 that licensed doctors, teachers, and students could dissect donated or unclaimed bodies. In case you were wondering what we used to do.
In the same episode, they covered the not-as-uncommon-as-you’d-think occurrence of a death erection. Yes, you read that right. While it is way more common in deaths-by-hanging, the death erection is a wild phenomenon that could be seen on display in the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History. Do be advised, it is rather graphic.
But most episodes are less explicit than that. You can hear the gruesome tales of cats eating their dead owners, the history of hearsts, tombstones in the middle of the street, and even an obituary for an ostrich. Or, you can hear bizarre celebrity funeral facts and famous obituaries. While “OBITCHUARY” is trying to make light of our certain demises, Spencer and Madison handle these stories of the deceased with deserved compassion and humanity. It’s just that death isn’t talked about a lot and some people have really funny things written on their headstones.
So, for all you thanatology (had to Google that one) fans out there, or anyone looking for their next podcast obsession, be sure to lend an ear to “OBITCHUARY.” And maybe get a few ideas for your own obit.