What happens when you die? It’s a question that you probably have pondered several times over in the past. There are few things in life that no one can prevent and death is surely one of them. According to scientists, death is a process just like life. As soon as the heart and lungs stop working completely, remarkable things start to happen.
Here we have discussed 11 things that happens to a human body after death. And lastly, we tried to explore the godly concepts like heaven and soul.
11. Respiratory and Cardiac Arrest
A Dissected Heart Showing Right and Left ventricles
Doctors know their patient is dead when he/she don’t show any signs of breathing and pulse. Breathing is essential for humans and any obstruction in respiratory function can cause serious damages to our body. A respiratory arrest simply refers to a complete suspension of breathing.
Severe brain injuries are likely to occur if a respiratory arrest is left untreated for more than three minutes; death is most likely to follow if it goes for more than five minutes. In cardiac arrest, heart failure lead to a sudden loss of blood flow, which leads to death if it’s left untreated for a few minutes.
10. Clinical Death
In medical terms, clinical death is the interruption of breathing and blood circulation. A patient can however be revived with early medication but only for about 4-6 minutes. After this time period, brain cells starts to die and ultimately leads to a complete brain damage.
9. Our Body Starts to Become Pale
Pallor mortis is the first stage of death, which usually onset within 15 minutes of death. In this stage, the human body exhibits drastic change in color. With no cardiac function or blood circulation, gravity forces all the static blood to sink down into the lower parts of the body.
As a result, the elevated part of the body starts to become pale. In medical terms, pallor mortis occurs due to the lack of capillary circulation in the body after death. Pallor mortis is of no or little use to determine the time of death as sometimes it can present itself immediately after the death.
8. A Significant Decrease or Increase in Body Temperature is Recorded
The average temperature of a human body ranges from about 36°C to 37.5°C. Though, precise body temperature of any individual depends on factors such as age, sex and his or her reproductive status, it is basically managed by a phenomena known as thermoregulation. But the death changes it all.
After several minutes of death, the corpse goes through a steady change in temperature. Most of the time it’s a negative change, i.e. decrease in body temperature, however a positive change in the temperature is also possible if the surrounding temperature is more than the initial body temperature. This stage of death is known as algor mortis.
7. Rigor Mortis Kicks In
Large scale chemical changes in corpse start to manifest in about 4-5 hours of death. These chemical changes affect each and every muscle in the body and causes limbs to stiffen. This stage of death is known as rigor mortis. In more technical terms, when respiration in human body ceases after death, oxygen, which is essential for making of ATP or adenosine triphosphate, starts depleting much faster.
ATP is required for flexible functioning of the muscles. When oxygen is no more available, the body uses stored glycogen to produce ATP and once glycogen is depleted, the lack of ATP causes the body to stiffen and enter into rigor mortis phase.
After death, human corpse may also void their bowels. This occurs due to loosening of specific involuntary muscles such as human sphincter.
Cadaveric spasm or Twitching
In some rare cases, a corpse can present with a phenomena known as cadaveric spasm, in which much stronger muscular stiffening in forearms or hands can cause loud-sounding twitches.
6. Blood Starts to Accumulate
Livor mortis is the fourth stage of death and present itself after Pallor Mortis, Algor Mortis and Rigor Mortis. Since there is no cardiovascular activity the blood is no longer agitated. As a result, blood present in the body starts to pile up into the lower parts of the body, causing the skin to turn bluish-purple. This discoloration of the skin is medically termed as livor mortis.
Though the process starts within 30 minutes of the death, a human eye can only observe it clearly after 3-6 hours. Livor mortis plays an important role in determining the approximate time of death. Investigators and forensic experts can also use it to determine whether the body has been moved or not.
5. The Process of Putrefaction Sets In
Putrefaction in human hands
The stage of putrefaction is characterized by the decomposition of proteins, liquidations of organs and breaking up of tissues. It is caused by the decomposition of cellular proteins by bacteria or fungus. As the proteins are broken down into much smaller components, the bacteria discharge gases, which carries toxic odor of rotten flesh that infiltrate other body tissues and leads to the deterioration of the organs.
4. Coffin Birth
Have you ever heard about a dead woman giving birth? No, well it is possible. Coffin birth, also known as postmortem fetal extrusion, is although very rare; it can occur within a putrefied body of a deceased pregnant woman. During decomposition, naturally occurring bacteria in the abdominal cavity of the human body produces gases, causing the abdomen to swell.
In some rare situations, the increased abdominal pressure can squeeze the womb and force it downward, forcing it out of the body through the relaxed vaginal opening of the deceased.
3. The Corpse Starts to Decompose
Decomposition is simply a universal process, which is characterized by the breaking up of complex substances into much simpler matter. This process is essential as part of the nutrient cycle for recycling limited matter on earth. Living organisms starts to decompose soon after their death.
2. The Final Stage of Decomposition
Skeletonization is the final stage of decomposition, in which all the remaining soft tissues of a corpse dried to a point where the skeleton is exposed. The rate of skeletonzation depends largely on climate. In temperate climate, from the tropics to the polar regions, decomposition generally takes about years for a body to completely decimate into skeleton.
1. Bones Are the Last Things to Decompose
Human femurs from the Roman period
Human bones are the very last things to decimate after we die. It takes decades for bacteria and fungus and even acids to break down hydroxyapatite, an important bone mineral into dust.
Do Soul Exist?
Damned Soul by Michelangelo
In chronological order, these are the clinically proven things that happen to your body after you die. But what about the popular beliefs? Despite all the scientific explanations of death, it seems like many of us still believes in life after death. According to a survey conducted in the UK by the Telegraph, about 53% of the participants believe in afterlife and 55% believe in heaven.
In almost all religions and mythological traditions, a soul is believed to be the incorporeal essence of a living being. In Christianity, after death, their souls will be judged by God and determined to go to Heaven or to Hell.
Almost every person who has experienced a near death situation has a scene to behold. In 2015, a Reddit user, who died twice for about 2 minutes each, shared his own experience. His exact words were “I have no idea, it was just black emptiness. No thoughts, no consciousnesses, nothing.”
On the other hand, former US senator from Illinois Mark Kirk claimed that he was visited by angels, while he was in hospital after suffering from a massive stroke.
The existence of soul is widely popular among the modern philosophers. French philosopher René Descartes believed that the soul does exist and it’s separated from the body. Another famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche talked about the concept of eternal return.