This goes without saying that the only certain things in life are death, issues with the in-laws and self doubt. And while some people may be able to avoid latter issues, no one can avoid death.

Most often death is portrayed as a tranquil drift off in a heart-rate monitor. But there’s more that happens after you die. In fact, death is anything but serene. As soon as our heart stops beating – the first stage of death – the rest of our body starts deteriorating, albeit at different rates according to which stage decomposition is in. The rates at which our bodies break down depend on a variety of factors, including the environment, the circumstances of death, and the condition of our individual bodies.

In this list, we’ll explore what happens to the body once the heart stops beating – namely, what happens to our bodies when we die. A bit ghastly but definitely fascinating, this list digs up some of the creepiest things that happen to our bodies after we die.

1) Blood fills up

The moment the heart stops beating is what doctors officially regard as the time of death. Once it stops, the rest of the body begins to die, at different rates. With the heart no longer pumping, the first thing to happen in the process of death is that our blood stops flowing and pools wherever it is in our veins and arteries

2) Body changes color

With our blood suddenly non-mobile, our bodies begin to change color. Part of our bodies change to purplish-red or bluish-purple because the blood settles, due to gravity, in the lowest part of our bodies. Other parts turn deathly pale, since the blood (reduced hemoglobin, to be exact) is less concentrated or more drained in those areas.


3) Livor mortis

Forensic investigators can use this phenomenon, known as livor mortis, to tell if a body has been moved since death because after death our blood congeals in our blood vessels, like a layer of fat which congeals on top of homemade stock or fried foods.

4) Algor mortis

The second most popular form of mortis, algor mortis is the next thing that happens to our bodies when we die. Known as “death chill”, our bodies lose their 98.6°F (37°C) warmth and slowly acclimate to the ambient room temperature, losing about 1.5°F (0.8°C) per hour.

5) Rigor mortis

The better-known rigor mortis does not happen until a few hours after the moment of death. The process starts with the eyelids and neck muscles, followed by the entire body, stiffening up due to the depletion of ATP (adenosine triphosphate): the chemical responsible for relaxing muscle fibers after a contraction.

6) Our bodies can twitch

In what must have scared earlier peoples and made them believe in the undead, our bodies can twitch and flex for hours after death. As muscle tissues die, they can contract. If enough contract, a visible muscle twitch or reflex can be seen, making it seem like the corpse is trying to regain consciousness.

7) Our hair and nails don’t keep growing

A commonly-held myth states that our hair and nails continue growing after death. In fact, after our bodies die, our skin loses moisture, causing the skin on our entire body to shrink. The shrinkage exposes more of our nail cuticles and hair follicles, making them appear longer.

8) We void our bowels

Commonly joked about on sitcoms, this fact does actually happens to our bodies when we die. As rigor mortis is affecting most of the body, some parts (sphincters, more accurately) are being loosened. Since the brain keeps our bodies’ sphincters closed as part of its regulation of involuntary functions, when the brain shuts down, the sphincters open, leading a corpse to rid itself of urine or feces left in the body.

9) Our bodies secrete putrid odors

To no other object does “putrid” better apply than to a corpse. As our cells die, they release enzymes notifying local bacteria and fungi of the event. The bacteria and fungi rush in to begin decomposition, releasing noxious and putrid gases and odors.

10) Animals rush in to devour the body

Beyond the bacteria and fungi, blowflies and flesh flies are attracted to the sweet odors put out by a corpse. The flies lay eggs which hatch into maggots which start eating away at the dead flesh. Other creatures such as mites, ants, spiders, and vultures also descend upon the body.

11) Our bodies can moan

A post-mortem effect which scares even modern-day doctors and nurses, our bodies can make sounds after death! The combination of rigor mortis (including the vocal cord muscles) and gas secreted by bacteria in our guts can lead dead bodies to fart, squeak, and even moan.12) Our eyes bulge and tongues swell

The gases produced in our intestines and from our decomposing organs also make our eyes bulge from their sockets and our tongues swell up and extend out of the mouth.

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12) Our eyes bulge and tongues swell

The gases produced in our intestines and from our decomposing organs also make our eyes bulge from their sockets and our tongues swell up and extend out of the mouth.


13) We can explode

A few years ago, a video surfaced on the internet of a marine biologist poking a hole in a dead, beached whale to relieve the pressure from built-up gas. When he punctures the whale, an explosion of built-up gas shot out of the carcass with a loud boom. The same happens to our bodies. If the gas has nowhere to go, our bodies will bloat and eventually rupture.

14) The last thing to decompose

Our bones are the last things to disappear after we die. Decades after bacteria, fungi, and other organisms begin breaking our bodies down, protein in bones eventually break down, leaving hydroxyapatite, a bone mineral which turns into dust.

15) Male bodies can get erections after death

Remember how blood pools in the lowest parts of the body and how muscles can contract and flex after our bodies die? Well, some male bodies experience these factors in the nether-regions, causing the body to have an erection. Also due to muscle contractions, the dead body can have an ejaculation after death.

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