Have you ever had a nightmare about being buried alive? Well, if you have, you wouldn't be alone. It is a very tangible fear that is shared by the vast majority of people. It combines claustrophobia with the knowledge that death is imminent, with no possible escape.
We are not exactly sure how many people have been buried alive throughout history because it's a little hard to go back and check if you made a mistake, but there are several historical records of people who have woken up in their coffins as they were about to be interred.
Let's take a look at six historically verified instances where someone was almost buried alive, only to wake up in their coffin before it could happen.
1. Unnamed girl from South Carolina
When a young girl who was visiting Edisto Island, South Carolina appeared to have died from diphtheria sometime around 1850, she was quickly buried in a local family's mausoleum to prevent the disease from spreading. It seemed like the right thing to do, until that family tried to bury one of their sons who had died during the civil war. When they opened the mausoleum, they found the young girls skeleton behind the door. She had woken up in her coffin and had tried to escape the stone structure, before dying.
2. Matthew Wall
The village of Braughing, Hertfordshire can thank Matthew Wall for their annual October 2 celebration of "Old Man's Day." Just before his wedding in 1571, Wall was presumed to have died. He was being carried to the church, in his coffin, when one of the men carrying the casket slipped on a pile of wet leaves, which made the casket fall to the stones. The impact woke Wall from his coma, and scared the crap out of everyone there.
When he actually died an old man, Wall requested in his will that the church bell be wrung for a funeral and a wedding on October 2 every year, a request that has been honored ever since. He also asked that the street be swept clean of leaves as well.
3. Eleanor Markham
For two weeks before she was legally declared dead, Eleanor Markham had been complaining of heart problems. She was eventually pronounced dead in July 1894. She was composed in her coffin two days later, but as the coffin was being carried out for transport, she suddenly woke up. When they opened the coffin, the doctor who had declared her dead was there to help calm her down. She went on to state that she was "awake" the whole time, and had heard everything said while she was being prepared for internment.