The saying goes that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. And while some people may be able to avoid taxes, no one can avoid death. Mass-produced television hospital dramas often portray death as a serene drop-off in a heart-rate monitor. But there’s more that happens after you die. In fact, death is anything but serene. As soon as our heart stops beating – the first stage of death – the rest of our body starts deteriorating, albeit at different rates according to which stage decomposition is in. The rates at which our bodies break down depend on a variety of factors, including the environment, the circumstances of death, and the condition of our individual bodies.
In this list, we’ll explore what happens to the body once the heart stops beating – namely, what happens to our bodies when we die. A bit macabre but definitely fascinating, this list digs up some of the creepiest things that happen to our bodies after we die, including liquefaction of our internal organs and even instances of a recently-deceased pregnant woman giving birth to a live baby! To find out these and other things that happen to a decomposing body, check out this list of 25 Things That Happen to Your Body After You Die.
Our bodies can twitch
In what must have scared earlier peoples and made them believe in the undead, our bodies can twitch and flex for hours after death. As muscle tissues die, they can contract. If enough contract, a visible muscle twitch or reflex can be seen, making it seem like the corpse is trying to regain consciousness. (To find out about the strangest human muscle to contract after death, check out #2.)
The skin on our face flattens out
In a bizarre perk for Botox-loving people everywhere, our faces get an immediate free-injection of Botox when we die. Well, not exactly Botox, but since our muscles are no longer contracting, the wrinkles on our faces mostly disappear.
Our hair and nails don't keep growing
A commonly-held myth states that our hair and nails continue growing after death. In fact, after our bodies die, our skin loses moisture, causing the skin on our entire body to shrink. The shrinkage exposes more of our nail cuticles and hair follicles, making them appear longer.
We void our bowels
Commonly joked about on sitcoms, this fact does actually happens to our bodies when we die. As rigor mortis is affecting most of the body, some parts (sphincters, more accurately) are being loosened. Since the brain keeps our bodies’ sphincters closed as part of its regulation of involuntary functions, when the brain shuts down, the sphincters open, leading a corpse to rid itself of urine or feces left in the body.
Our bodies secrete putrid odors
To no other object does “putrid” better apply than to a corpse. As our cells die, they release enzymes notifying local bacteria and fungi of the event. The bacteria and fungi rush in to begin decomposition, releasing noxious and putrid gases and odors.