Things That Matter

Woman Presumed Dead Wakes Up Inside Her Own Coffin

In Peru, a woman presumed dead began knocking from inside her coffin, during her funeral, to let friends and family know that she was, in fact, still alive.

This bizarre series of events centers around Rosa Isabel Céspedes Callaca, who was believed to have been killed in a car accident and interrupted her own funeral to alert attendees that she was not yet dead.

On April 24, Callaca was involved in a car accident that took her life and left her three children (aged 5, 11, and 17) in the hospital. After she was pronounced legally dead, arrangements were made to organize a funeral. All professional and medical personnel involved seemed to miss the fact that Callaca displayed vital signs of still being alive, in an episode of what’s known as “catalepsy,” which is what happens when a person appears to be dead but is still technically alive, albeit motionless and not visibly breathing.

According to Mundo Hispanico, “the administrator of the El Carmen cemetery in Ferreñafe, Juan Segundo Cajo, commented the following to El Comercio: ‘She opened her eyes and was sweating. At that moment I went to my office and proceeded to call the police.'”

Amidst the fear and panic caused by Callaca’s seemingly incomprehensible resurrection, authorities were called and she was transported to a nearby hospital. Doctors did their best to stabilize her, but she later died from her initial injuries and was eventually buried as planned. As of her burial, her children were still unaware of her death and the bizarre events leading up to it.

Catalepsy is a lot more common than people think. Historically, catalepsy has been a popular trope in film, literature, and playwrighting, but it has also afflicted significant figures through time, including Socrates, who was known to have stood in place for hours at a time in an almost trance-like state of stillness.

It’s hard to tell if Callaca was suffering from catalepsy as a result of her car accident or some kind of underlying physiological condition, but this is a strange case, nonetheless.

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