|Hello. I've written to you before and have appreciated the information you've given me, as well as the kind way you've responded to my questions. Anyway, now for my current question: one of my very best friends recently committed suicide (she shot herself in the head with a gun), and she was found in her home by her husband. He, of course, chose to have a closed casket at the funeral, but told me that he would have the funeral director allow me to view her body at the funeral home prior to the funeral if wanted to. I was somewhat hesitant, but decided it might help me deal with the reality of the tragedy if I did view her body. Upon doing so, however, I was quite taken aback when I saw her. She did not even look like the same person I had known for 25+ years....her face looked like a wax figure, and she appeared to be wearing a wig. Her husband said that the police told him she had a single bullet hole in her forehead, so I'm wondering why she looked so artificial and almost deformed. Is this a common physical occurance that results from a contact gunshot wound, or could it be a result of her being dead for 6-8 hours before she was found and refrigerated at the morgue? I almost wish now that I had even viewed her body. Thank you for your answer.|
|To really answer your question I would need to know the caliber of the weapon. The appearance you describe could well have been almost completely wax. In many cases of head wounds the bullet does not exit the head on the opposite side from the contact or entry, but, rather, is deflected by the thickness and curvature of the inside of the cranium causing the shell to spin inside the head. The damage this does to the facial bones and appearance is devastating. When we encounter a situation like this we try and talk people out of viewing because there is often very little that can be done to restore a normal appearance.
It is also possible that the bullet did, indeed, exit at some point and that the coroner's office did a "head post", that is part of a complete autopsy which could make it necessary to use the wig.
The interval between death and being found should have little effect here unless she fell with her face down which would cause extensive discoloration. Refrigeration has almost no effect on embalming results if the licensee is qualified and well trained.
I'm very sorry you had to experience this. If you encounter such a situation again it might be a good idea to ask the funeral director/embalmer what the condition of the remains is and if, in their considered opinion, you should view.
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