What happens to your body after you die?

Things you should know

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What happens to your body after you die?

Jie Chen, Staff Writer

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Death is something that will eventually happen to everyone; it isn’t a comfortable topic to talk about because NO ONE likes it, but death is indeed part of our lives, because life itself is a slow motion of the process of death.

During the first hour of death, the body will enter a state known as “Primary Flaccidity,” where all the muscles will relax, becoming very flexible. By “all muscle,” it means specifically the muscle that keeps urine and feces in the body. They will stop working, so if the corpse didn’t use bathroom before they died… it gets pretty gross.

Skin will also become pale due to blood draining from small veins under the skin, this is call “Pallor Mortis.” Body temperature will drop roughly 2 degrees Celsius in the first hour, then roughly 1 degree Celsius every hour in the follow hour until it has reached the temperature of the surrounding environment, this is called Algor Mortis.

Blood doesn’t circulate after death of course, so all the blood is pulled by gravity and eventually sinks down to the body parts closest to the ground (usually the back with natural death), red patches will also appear as blood pools in the area (this process is called Livor Mortis, happens from at least 30 minutes to 2 hours after death). Then from hour three and onward, a process called Rigor Mortis occurs, where the body will begin to harden, due to calcium having chemical reaction in the muscles, and with no ATP (cell energy) being created to stop the reaction. It starts with the face muscles, and eventually spreads throughout the body.

Rigor Mortis continues from hour 7 to 12, limbs become difficult to move and are flexed, while fingers and toes look unusually crooked. When the clock ticks to hour 12, the body reaches Max Rigor Mortis, and it will begin to get soft again, reversing the order when it gets hard, which is go from the end of limbs, all the way back to the face. After 48-72 hours, the body is once again relaxed completely, this is known as the “Second Flaccidity”. Nails and hair look longer but is not because they are still growing, but because the skin has shrunk. At this point, your internal organs will start to decompose.

In the following days, putrefaction will occur, where cells get weak and membranes break, spilling enzymes that will break other cells and causing a huge chain reaction. Bacteria in the abdomen will eat the body up too.

Gases will built up in the body, it bloats up and the body will at most be twice of its original size (possibilities of explosion will not be low if too much gas builds up). The smell of the body will be terrible due to the release of putrescine and cadaverine that was produced. The body will turn purple, then black due to necrosis (Cells eating up your body).

Insects like blowfly will be attracted by the smell and they will lay eggs on the flesh. A single blowfly can lay as many as 300 eggs, and they can hatch in a single day. After hatching, the maggots will eat the decaying flesh for a week (they can eat up to 60% of the body in just one week!), and grow into an adult blowfly and go somewhere else to lay their eggs. More gases will be released from the body as the maggots consumes it and more insects will be attracted by the smell.

Nails and hair will fall in the next several weeks as the body continues to decay, after a month it will liquefy and eventually dry out.

After 20 to 50 days the remaining body will enter a state known as Butyric Fermentation, body tissues are mostly dried and wax over (looks mummy). Over the next year or more, depending on external factors (temperature, what terrain the body is in), bacteria, insects, protozoa, and fungi will all consumes the remains and only skeleton will be left.

The skeleton will eventually get fragile over the next decade or more, then again depending on where the skeleton is, it might be consumed by animals or plant and at last, nothing is left, they are now gone forever.


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