16 Bizarre Things That Happen to Your Body After You Die
Your body will morph in some very disgusting ways after you take your final breath. Get a sneak peek of what will happen.
Your skin gets discolored
Your skin will change colors—and keep changing—after you die! As gravity takes hold, it becomes purplish-red in spots where blood pools. And some killers make you even more colorful: “If a person dies from carbon monoxide poisoning, the blood turns cherry red,” says Judy Melinek, MD, a forensic pathologist and co-author with T.J. Mitchell of the New York Times bestseller Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner. “It even brightens all the organs internally. Victims of hydrogen sulfide gas poisoning can turn green.” Freaked out by these changes? See what you should do now to get ready for the end of your life.
You might moan or groan
Any air left in your body—from CPR or gas released by bacteria—could make your vocal cords vibrate. And, according to Mary Lachman, MD, a pathologist with Westmed Medical Group, “Sounds like moans, groans, or squeaks could be produced.” But don’t panic over an army of noisy corpses. Dr. Lachman says this reaction only happens if someone’s pressing on your chest or manipulating your body.
Your wrinkles will fade away
Apparently, death is the ultimate Botox. After you pass, “all of your muscles lose tension,” says Dr. Lachman, causing all your wrinkles to smooth away. If you want to get rid of those wrinkles while you’re still with us, here’s everything you need to know about Botox.
Your hair and nails may seem like they grow
You’ve probably heard that your hair and nails keep growing after death—but that’s not true. “The most common misconceptions I get asked about are whether the fingernails or hair continues to grow after death,” Dr. Melinek says. “This apparent lengthening of the hair and nails is due to the drying out of the scalp and the skin of the extremities, exposing more hair and nail underneath the receding tissues.”
You’ll fart—out of all orifices
As bacteria in your body starts to decompose your digestive system, your body could release foul air through any opening—including your mouth! And while that’s not a great funeral topic, here are some things you should say to people who are grieving.
Your body will gradually chill
It takes a while, but your body will get cold—you will lose 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit per hour, for 20 to 30 hours, until you reach ambient temperature, according to Dr. Lachman. Sound scary? Check out these silent signs your body may be in big trouble.
You might move a bit
No, you’re not becoming a zombie or reawakening. But your muscles may still twitch and contract a bit for several hours after you die, which can be very unsettling to anyone who’s around, says Dr. Melinek. Here are 22 ways to move more while you’re still alive!
Your body will produce a terrible odor
Jan H Andersen/Shutterstock
Unfortunately, you won’t smell very good after you die, and it can happen quickly. Two to three days in, your internal organs start to decay and produce two chemicals—putrescine and cadaverine—which can create an overwhelming stench, according to Dr. Lachman.
Your body gets really stiff
Within 12 hours of your death, your entire body will become rigid as rigor mortis sets in, according to Dr. Melinek. It will take a couple of days before your body relaxes again. Do you know the day on which you’re most likely to die?
Some parts of you will live longer
While some body parts expire quickly, others may live on for hours after you die. Your eyes, heart, bone, and skin can still be viable for transplant up to 15 hours after you pass away, according to Dr. Melinek. Read the incredible story of the man who held his own heart.
Your body will literally start eating itself
As your cells begin to break down, they are digested by enzymes and bacteria in your body—a process that can kick in quickly, depending on what caused your death. “When you die of sepsis—overwhelming bacterial infection of all your body’s systems—putrefaction is very fast because the bacteria that break down your tissues after death have already spread to every corner of your body,” Dr. Melinek says. “People who overdose on certain drugs that elevate body temperature—like methamphetamine, ecstasy, or cocaine—may also show accelerated decomposition changes.”
You might turn into soap
Strange, but true: “Bodies left in a cool, damp environment often decompose in a chemical process called adipocere that turns the fat into soap,” Dr. Melinek says. “Instead of rotting away to skeletons, they are structurally well-preserved in a blobby pale yellowish or gray sort of way commonly referred to as ‘grave wax.’” Don’t miss these lessons on living from those who spent time dying.
Your eyes will take on colors
“Many people die with their eyes open, and when the whites of the eyes start to dry out they turn blue or gray,” Dr. Melinek says. “This is called ‘tache noir’ and is frequently part of forensic board examinations—to see if the pathologists recognize it as normal post-mortem change or if they mistake it for a disease state or intoxication.”
Most of you will be gone in a few months
At 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it takes about four months for your soft tissue to decompose—but at higher temperatures, you can go much faster, according to Dr. Lachman. Soon, you’ll be a skeleton, cartilage, and bits of dried skin. And if you find this sort of info fascinating, check out these obscure facts you never knew about the human body.