Not everyone is comfortable talking about death, (and we so feel ya!) but you have to admit that there’s a liiiittle part of us that feels a little fascinated about it, too. If we can understand the human body as a living thing, why not learn about what happens to it after we die? Maybe even talking about it will make the subject less of a taboo topic and encourage people to face their fear of it. Here are some facts that’ll educate and make you go, “Wow, I didn’t know that!”
BLOOD STOPS MOVING
When we die our hearts stop pumping, and blood doesn’t flow throughout the body anymore. The blood accumulates in the lower areas of the body that are closest to the ground. It’ll also settle, coagulate, and form like jello inside our arteries and veins. Hello, jello!
OUR BODIES GET VERY COLD
Since the heart isn’t working to pump blood around the body, it loses heat and becomes cold. As a result, the body’s temperature will drop. Our core body temperature is 37.5 C and when we die it drops at 1.5 C per hour until it reaches the temperature of the surrounding environment, known as the ambient temperature. Now that’s easy, breezy, hum… never mind, it’s just breezy!
WE RELEASE EVERYTHING
Yep, with death comes total release of pee and poop. There’s no way to put it! Bet they didn’t teach you that in school, huh? This happens because when we die the area of the brain that controls the muscles that hold in your urine and feces doesn’t function anymore. It’s kind of like when you laugh so hard you pee your pants a bit. Except way, way, way more extreme.
THE BODY WILL CHANGE COLORS
When we die everything will eventually start to shut down, and it shows when our bodies start to change color. It sounds gruesome, but bodies will go from red to black, with a little yellow and green mixed in, in less than 48 hours. What causes this is the pooling of blood, gas buildup, and body decay. Definitely not pretty but so damn trippy!
BEWARE OF CREEPY NOISES
Have you ever heard stories of people who were thought to be dead but then they moaned or breathed? Well, there’s some truth to those tales and it’s creepy AF. When we die rigor mortis sets in, our muscles start stiffening, and our bodies are full of gas. What happens is the muscles that control our vocal cords are also affected, and we may release moans, squeaks, and even breathing noises after death.
OUR ORGANS ARE STILL ALIVE
While many functions in our bodies shut down at death, our organs still keep on living. This is because there’s a period of time after death, when the cells in organs are still reproducing and haven’t yet received the message to stop. Fortunately, doctors are able to harvest organs from deceased bodies and transplant them into patients who desperately need them. Sharing is caring!
If you’re on the morbid side you might’ve seen pictures of dead people and not recognized them (remember Marilyn Monroe’s death pic?). When we die we look different because our bodies start to bloat. The swelling occurs because fluids haven’t been drained and gas is trapped inside. And—wait for it—if a body isn’t drained within a certain period of time, it will likely explode.
SKIN CRAWLING FACT
At death, different parts of our bodies, like organs and tissue, will shut down at varying times. Our skin cells are the last to go kaput because they’re on the outside of our bodies and will absorb whatever is in the surrounding environment. It sounds creepy, but our skin cells will continue to live on for days after we die.
HAIR AND NAILS LOOK LONGER
A lot of people think that our hair and nails continue to grow after we die. This is not true, but there’s a reason why people believe this. It just looks like they keep growing because in death the skin loses moisture, which causes it to shrink and pull back. As a result more of our hair follicles and nails are revealed, giving the illusion that they’ve grown.
It’s kind of ironic that people will spend the majority of their adult lives trying to prevent or get rid of wrinkles, when in death they simply disappear. The tense muscles (think of your worry lines) atrophy and our skin detaches from muscles, and muscles from the bones. After 24 hours our skin will also take on a waxy layer. This leads to our faces appearing younger, smoother, and more relaxed. If only we’d be able to do that while living!