There's an awful lot of speculation about what happens when you die. If you're religious, your beliefs might impact what you think about what happens after death. If you're not, that, too, might influence things. You know that, over time, your tissue dies, that if you're going to donate any organs, the medical team will have to act quickly in order to make it work. You also know that, eventually, your body will decompose, but that takes a little bit of time to happen completely. There are some things you never knew happen to your body right after you die, however, as well as those more well-known processes that take longer to kick in.
For what it's worth, some of the things that happen to your body relatively soon after you die aren't entirely comforting or pleasant, but then again, you probably didn't think they would be, now did you? Death is a little bit of a scary topic for a lot of people, so perhaps it's no surprise that some of what happens to your body is a bit unsavory. From what happens to your wrinkles to what happens to the contents of your bladder after you die, there's still a lot going on, even if you don't realize it.
1. Your Hair And Nails Appear To Grow
You may have heard that, after you die, your hair and nails continue to grow. That's not exactly how it all goes down, but it is close. Robert D. Webster, author of Does This Mean You'll See Me Naked? Field Notes from a Funeral Director, told Women's Health that your skin dries out after death, which makes your nails and hair look longer because your skin has pulled away from the cuticles and follicles. It shrinks. So it's not that your nails and hair are growing, but that your skin is losing its hydration.
2. Your Body Can Get Soapy Or Waxy
This doesn't happen to everyone, but if your casket isn't air-tight, a mixture of alkaline soil and water can get into the casket, turning your fat into soap, according to Cracked. How's that for weird science?
3. You Might Pee Or Poop
Listen, it not pretty, but it's true. When your brainstem, which keeps you alive, ceases to function and the part of your brain that regulates muscle control stops working, all of your muscles relax, according to HuffPost. Meaning if your bladder or bowels are full upon death, you might end up urinating or defecating after you die. It's a little bit embarrassing to think of before you die, but if it happens, it happens.
4. Enzymes Start To 'Digest' Your Cells
According to Gizmodo, once your cells stop getting oxygen, they get more and more acidic, which happens within just a couple of minutes of you dying. Then, after that, enzymes take over, "digesting" the cell membranes before leaking out into the rest of the body, which makes sense if you think about it — there are no longer cell membranes keeping them contained. That's the point when decomposition really starts.
5. Your Body Turns Purple-ish
When you die, your blood stops pumping throughout your body. According to Science Alert, since your blood isn't able to pump through your body any longer, it pools in certain spots, giving your skin a bit of a purple-ish tint in those particular places. It's like bruises, but more extreme, contrasted with your now-very-pale skin.
6. You Might Still Make Noises
You might not think that you can still make some groaning noises after you've died, but you actually can. Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist and a coauthor of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, said that when medical professionals are trying to revive someone, they pump excess air into your body. That air can be released in the form of groaning while people are moving your body because it passes your vocal chords, giving it a noise. Creepy!
7. Your Wrinkles Smooth Out
Wait, what? Funeral director Jeff Jorgenson told Women's Health in the aforementioned article that the muscles that pull on your forehead relax after you die, meaning that the lines and wrinkles they'd created smooth themselves out. It's apparently a similar situation to how Botox works in your face and it happens relatively quickly after you die. Who knew?
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