What Happens to a Body after Death?

  • This is not a story for the squeamish, so read on at your peril. The one certainty that each of us has in this life is that we are going to die. What exactly does take place within the human body once the spark of life is gone?

    First stage of decomp – 0 to 3 days

    The actual process of decay is fascinating, in a morbid kind of way.

  • Putrefaction stage at 4 to 10 days

    The images used in this story are of a pig decomposing, but the process is exactly as it would be for a human body. For those of you with stronger stomachs, take a look at the first video you come to. You will need to verify your age before you can watch.

  • Putrefaction stage image 2

    When your brain is finally starved of oxygen, and your eyes have turned glassy, then you are clinically dead. Within one minute, the previously free flowing blood is pooling in bruise-like patches around your body, and all your muscles relax, emptying both bowels and bladder.

  • Time-lapse human decomposition video

    After three minutes, brain cells are dying off in millions, and all higher thought processes end. By the fifth minute, your eyeballs have clouded over and flattened due to lack of blood pressure, and by the ninth minute your brain stem finally shuts down forever.

  • Putrefaction stage – image 2

    Between one and four hours, rigor mortis sets in, stiffening all muscle tissue and making the hair stand on end. By six hours the body is totally rigid, and pooled blood turns the skin black, like some gruesome all-over tattoo. After 8 hours the body begins to cool down.

  • Butyric fermentation – 20 to 50 days after death

    Within 36 to 48 hours, the rigor mortis ends, and the body becomes flexible again, but microbes within it are already destroying the intestines, and the pancreas starts to digest itself. By the fifth day, large blisters are appearing on the decaying skin, and blood-flecked froth starts to spew from the nose and mouth. The body now has an eerie greenish color.

  • Butryic decomposition – image 2

    Body cells are now breaking down, releasing the liquid within them, which pools under the skin and loosens it, causing what they call ‘Skin slough’. It is not unusual, during a post-mortem, for the skin of an entire hand to just slip off, and pathologists call this ‘gloving’. Bacteria are already hard at work, multiplying exponentially in a frenzy of feeding, as they eat their way through body tissues.

    Flies will have laid their eggs in every body orifice, and within three days, tiny young maggots are crawling beneath the surface of the now near translucent skin, to feed on body fat. They can be seen quite clearly moving about, and the sight is strangely beautiful, in a revolting way. As the days pass, the gases released by the feeding hordes have no way of escaping the body, and the ‘bloat’ stage is reached.

Scribol Staff