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8 Fascinating Things That Happen To Your Body When You Die

April 08, 2015 3 min read

Most people don't like to think about dying. That's a fact. But, we seem to be curious about death all the same. We watch television shows about murder and zombies have more than just a cult following these days. Clearly we, as humans, are more than just a little morbid in our curiosities. To that end, check out this list of cool (and creepy) things that your body does after your final heart beat.

1. Your Hair and Nails Look Like They Grow

nails You've probably heard that your hair and nails keep growing after you die. Well, this isn't quite true but it does look like it is true. After death your skin dehydrates and pulls back from the cuticles and hair follicles making them appear to be longer than they were when you died.

2. Your Body Gets Rock Hard

Judy Melinek, M.D., a forensic pathologist and co-author of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, explains:
Rigor mortis, or stiffening of the muscles after death, occurs from depletion of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the chemical in our muscles necessary for relaxation of the muscle fibers after a contraction. ATP is produced metabolically by muscle cells and forces your muscle’s contractile units to disengage. When you stop breathing, your cells stop producing ATP. The microscopic fibers lock up, and your muscles stiffen.
Rigor mortis sets in your face within two to four hours after death and hits the larger muscle groups around twelve hours after death. After a day or two, those muscles start to degrade and the body appears more relaxed.

3. You May Poop and Pee Your Pants

Although rigor mortis sets in within hours, as soon as you die, every muscle in your body relaxes and that includes the sphincters that hold everything in. So, if there is anything in the body to expel, it can seep out at this point. But it won't be a super huge mess, because the muscles responsible for pushing everything out are also dead.

4. Your Wrinkles Disappear Immediately

Jeff Jorgenson, director of eco-friendly funeral home Elemental Cremation and Burial in Seattle, explains that because your muscles lose all their tension, they stop pulling on your forehead which is what creates those worry lines. It is basically the same principle as Botox. If you are super old, saggy skin my still be an issue but the forehead will look great.

5. You May Moan and Groan

Being dead doesn't mean there isn't air in your lungs. If someone or something applies pressure to your chest, the air may travel up the wind pine, rattle the vocal chords and create a sound. Although stories about corpses randomly moaning are common, it isn't going to happen unless something is applying pressure, says Jorgenson.

6. Some of Your Body Parts Keep Living

“As soon as you stop breathing and your heart stops beating, your organs start to die," says Melinek, "however, all the cells don’t die immediately, and there is a window that allows for you to be resuscitated and remain intact—and an even larger window that allows for organ and tissue transplantation." To donate live organs like the heart or lungs, breathing must be done for you until the doctor can harvest the organs. Corneas, skin, bone marrow and heart valves can be donated for up to 15 hours after death.

7. Your Skin Gets Stained

You know when you are watching your favourite crime drama and the blood pools on the floor around a victim and looks all thick and a little like jell-o? The same thing happens in the body. Without the heart to keep things moving, blood pools and thickens in the lowest part of the body. If you are lying down, the blood would pool in your butt, for example. If this blood stays there for more than 12 hours, it will permanently stain your skin.

8. Your Gut Bacteria Goes Bonkers

Your gut bacteria, the kind that aids in digestion and keeps the immune system functioning, now has control of the body. It enters the bloodstream uses the blood vessels to travel to all parts of your body. This is part of the reason we smell so terrible after we die. Creepy or totally fascinating? Tell us in a comment. Do you follow us on Instagram? [caption id="attachment_98507" align="alignnone" width="100"]snapchat snapcode @BodyRockTV[/caption]

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