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 discoloured
Your skin will turn colours—depending on what happens to you. As gravity takes hold, your skin will turn purplish-red where blood pools. And you can be very colourful if you happened to die certain ways: “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.”
You might moan or groan
Any air left in your body—from CPR or gas released by bacteria—could make your vocal cords vibrate as it’s expelled through the throat, making your body groan (and freaking out anyone nearby), according to Medical Daily. It will only happen if someone’s pressing on your chest or manipulating your body.
Your wrinkles will fade away
It looks like death is like the ultimate Botox: The muscles in your face will slack, which will cause all your wrinkles to smooth away, according to Women’s Health. 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 continue to grow—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 is a misconception comes from the apparent lengthening of the hair and nails 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
Your body could release foul air through any opening—including your mouth—as bacteria in the body starts to decompose your digestive system.
Your bowels and bladder will empty
It’s not so pleasant to think about, but it happens. As all the muscles in your body relax, the muscles on your body’s sphincters will as well—and that means you’ll be releasing any urine and feces that remain in your body.
Your body will gradually chill
It takes a while for your body to get cold—you will lose 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit per hour until you reach ambient temperature, according to Science Alert. 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.
Is death really the end? Here are eight signs you might have lived a past life!
Your body will produce a terrible odour
Unfortunately, you won’t smell very good, and it can happen quickly. After two to three days, your body starts to decay and produces two chemicals—putrescine and cadaverine—which can create an overwhelming stench, according to the Washington Post.
Are you living with a foul odour? Here are 19 simple fixes for smelly feet!
Your body gets really stiff
It doesn’t happen right away, but 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.
Are you living with loss? Here are three strategies for coping with the death of a loved one.
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 couple who found love on the transplant list.
Your body will start literally eating itself
As your cells start to break down, they are digested by your digestive 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.’”
Your eyes will turn colours
“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 Vox. Soon, you’ll be a skeleton, cartilage, and bits of dried skin.
Next, learn these obscure facts you never knew about the human body.
Originally published as 16 Bizarre Things That Happen to Your Body After You Die on ReadersDigest.com.