What Happens After You Die?


Death is an inevitable consequence of living,
and someday we will all reach the end the road, breath our final breath, and find ourselves
six feet under. There are many theories on what happens afterwards
and where we end up, but one thing science can tell us for sure, is what happens to our
body. Does it just slowly decay away and become
part of the earth, or do strange things continue to go on as if we were still alive? That’s what we’ll find out today, in this
episode of The Infographics Show: Your Body After You Die. Most of us would rather not think about what
happens to our body after we die. In the west, when someone dies, there is usually
a traditional funeral so friends and family can say goodbye and get a sense of closure. A mortician will embalm the body as a way
of slowing down the decomposition process, so that family members can remember their
loved one as they once were. For some, the end is less dignified; a murderer
might leave his victim’s body at the scene of the crime or bury them in a shallow grave,
or someone may die alone and isn’t found for days or weeks. When this happens and the body is discovered
later, the decomposition process has already started making the mortician’s job much
harder. So what actually happens to our body when
we die? Actually, the moment of death is not as instant
as we may think. Even if you stop breathing and your heart
ceases to beat, it is now understood that the brain goes on living for sometime after. A 2017 study by the US National Library of
Medicine National Institutes of Health, who measured brain activity after death, observed
electroencephalographic recordings up to 5 minutes after the body was declared dead. In the hospital setting, doctors define death
under a number of circumstances. These include no pulse, which indicates the
heart has stopped beating, stopping breathing, the absence of reflexes, and pupils not reacting
in response to a bright light. Just like you see
in a TV crime show, when a detective walks up and shines a torch in the eyes of dead
person, to be sure they’re gone. The definition of brain death includes the
neurologic criteria of unresponsiveness, an absence of brainstem reflexes, and an inability
to breathe without a ventilator. So when the lights are finally out, and you
are actually gone, what happens to the body? Let’s first look at from death to 12 hours
after death. Hour 1 – At the moment of death, all of the
muscles in the body relax. This state is called primary flaccidity. The mouth often falls open, the eyelids relax,
the pupils dilate, and the body is flexible. If an individual averages 80 beats per minute,
that’s 4,800 beats per hour, 115,200 beats per day, and more than 42 million per year,
which calculates to roughly 3 billion if you live to age 72. Within minutes of the heart stopping, the
blood stops flowing and a process called pallor mortis causes skin color to lighten as blood
drains from the smaller veins under the skin surface. The body begins to cool from its normal temperature
of 98.6° Fahrenheit (37° Celsius) and it continues to drop two degrees Celsius in the
first hour; one degree each hour thereafter. As the muscles relax, urine and feces are
also released from the body. Hours 2 to 6 – With no blood circulation,
gravity begins to pull it to the areas of the body closest to the ground, a process
known as livor mortis. After roughly 3 hours, chemical changes start
to take place within the body’s cells, and all of the muscles begin to stiffen. This process is known as rigor mortis, and
the first muscles to enter this state are the eyelids, jaw, and the neck. Rigor mortis continues to spread through the
whole face, down through the chest, the arms, and eventually the fingers and toes. In the old days, people would place coins
on the eyelids. This tradition might also have originated
from the desire to keep the eyes shut since rigor mortis affects the eyes soonest. However, there are other spiritually motivated
theories, including one in Greek mythology where a god of the underworld was responsible
for carrying the souls of the deceased over the river that separated life and death, so
a coin was placed on the eyes in order to pay him for transportation. Hours 7 to 12 – Though rigor mortis will
continue for up to 12 hours, from 7 hours onwards the limbs of the corpse will be difficult
to move. The knees and elbows will be slightly flexed,
and fingers or toes may appear unusually crooked. How extreme these factors are will depend
on the age, physical condition, and gender of the person, as well as the air temperature,
and other external factors. Hour 12 – After reaching maximum rigor mortis,
the body begins to soften again as the process of rigor mortis wears off in the reverse order
in which it occurred, so from the fingers and toes, to the arms and legs, and then up
through the chest and to the neck and face. This is due to more chemical changes within
the cells and internal tissue. This process occurs gradually and will continue
over a period of one to three days, again influenced by external conditions such as
temperature. After about 48 hours, all of the muscles will
again relax, reaching a state known as secondary flaccidity. That’s the first 12 hours, but what if a
body is left to decompose naturally for the next few days, weeks, or even months? Whilst doing our research, we came across
a company, Aftermath Services, who can be called upon to clean up a dead body at a crime
scene. Let’s see what these corpse-cleaning experts
have to say: After a few days, leaked enzymes begin producing many gases, which cause the
body to expand, sometimes as large as twice the usual size. If the corpse is out in the open, insects
will start to investigate, including flies that lay eggs, later to become maggots that
eat the flesh. And microorganisms and bacteria also produce
extremely unpleasant odors called putrefaction. Next all the soft parts of the body, including
organs, muscles, and skin, become liquefied, and when all of the soft tissue has decomposed,
bone, hair, cartilage, and other hard areas of decay remain. All that will be left at the end is the skeleton,
which will usually take eight to twelve years to decompose, depending on the loss of organic
and inorganic components. The body decay timeline goes like this: 24 to 72 hours after death — the internal
organs decompose. 3-5 days after death — the body starts to
bloat and blood-containing foam leaks from the mouth and nose. 8-10 days after death — the body turns from
green to red as the blood decomposes and the organs in the abdomen accumulate gas. Several weeks after death — nails and teeth
fall out. 1 month after death — the body starts to
liquefy. So your body may be around for a long time
after death, even as long as 12 years for a brittle skeleton. But in some situations, these rules don’t
apply and the body can last a lot longer. This was the case in Wilmslow, Cheshire, North
West England, when on August 1st, 1984, when the preserved body of the so called Lindow
Man was dug out of a peat bog by commercial peat-cutters. Peat is a type of soil that contains acids
with pH levels similar to vinegar, which can conserve the human body in the same way fruit
is preserved in a pickling jar. It is thought that The Lindow Man met his
death in the Lindow Moss, some time between 2 BC and 119 AD, in either the Iron Age or
Romano-British period. So he may have lived around the time of Jesus. His body has been so well preserved for 2,000
years that we know he was a healthy male who died in his mid-20s, was around 5 feet 7 inches
tall (168 cm), and weighed 140 lbs. (63 kgs). Some people do not want to think about the
changes in the body after death, whereas others wish to know ALL of the gruesome details. Everyone is different, and it is a very personal
decision. So, can you add anything to the decomposition
process we outlined above? Have you ever seen a dead body? Let us know in the comments! Also be sure to check out our other video
called What Happens When You Die? Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!

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