Death should not deny you all things you enjoy doing, so long as they are pretty basic. Certain body functions continue for either minutes, hours, days and even weeks after death. It’s hard to believe but, the body does continue some of its basic functions after death. This post may not be ideal to read if you have a weak stomach!
1. Hair and Nail Growth
This is actually a technical function. It’s not that more nail and hair tissue are produced after death but these things ‘grow’ days after a body dies. After death the skin will lose moisture and pull back. This leads to more exposure of hair and the nails also appear to be longer. When measuring the length of nails and hair, you do it from where they meet the skin to the hair tip, so the hair does ‘grow’.
2. Brain Activity (with drugs)
Modern technology has blurred the time between life and death. These days the brain could be gone completely but the heart is still pumping. If no breathing is present and the heart has stopped for a minute, (and the person was on the verge of death anyway), most of the doctors will pronounce them dead even though for the next few minutes the brain is technically still alive. At this point in time, there’s a scramble for oxygen and nutrients by the brain cells so as to stay alive. They do this to a point where they damage themselves irreparably even though the heart does start up again. With the right drugs, those minutes before damage is too extensive can be extended to days but under the right circumstances. This would ideally give doctors the chance to save a life but there are no guarantees.
3. Skin cell growth
Loss of blood circulation will kill the brain within minutes, but not all cells need the constant care. The Skin cells for example are used to being on the outskirts of the body and using osmosis to grab what they can and stay alive for days.
For most of us, peeing is a voluntary action until something is really funny. Not-peeing however is not voluntary. We don’t think about it because there’s a part of the brain in charge of that function. This part is also involved in the regulation of breathing and the heartbeat, and that’s one of the reasons why people sometimes pee involuntarily if drunk. The brain part that makes sure the urinary sphincter is closed gets inhibited. (As you continue drinking more alcohol, the part which regulates the heart function and breathing shuts down and that’s why too much alcohol can be dangerous.) Rigor mortis will stiffen the muscles but this sets in hours after death, then the muscles will relax and urination will occur.
During stressing times, the body will eliminate waste and if you are lucky this will not be in front of a crowd of people or worse, a camera. The body tends to relax certain muscles and well, things just tend to…progress. As for dead bodies, the process is helped by gas produced in the body and can take place hours after death. So, considering fetuses poop in the womb also, then pooping may be the first and last thing we do in this life!
Apparently, when you die, you not only expel stuff but make more. This is because we share our bodies with other beneficial creatures like the bacteria in our gut that doesn’t die once we do. They aid in digestion and carry out some beneficial work for us. They will continue doing this whether we are alive or dead. Some of them eat into our intestine lining and produce the gas that repulsed us in section 5(the one that makes sure things are pushed along).
7. Erections and Ejaculations
After the heart stops, it stops forcing blood around the body and it pools in the lowest part of the body. People can either die facing down or standing up and you can understand the kind of pooling this would encourage. Relaxation of muscles after death does not last forever. Calcium ions activate some types of muscle cells and after activation; these cells expend energy that puts the calcium ions back outside the cell. The membranes will become more permeable to the calcium after death and the cells will not expend enough energy to push these ions out and hence the muscles will contract. Rigor mortis will take place and may lead to ejaculation.
8. Muscle movement
Some nervous system areas could still be active even after the brain has died. Some nurses have reported seeing reflex action on patients after death. This occurs when the nerves send signals to the spinal cord instead of the brain.
A dead body rots when the bacteria go to work. Gas proportions increase leading to a buildup. One of the ways for this gas to escape is through the windpipe. Rigor mortis as we’ve seen, stiffens muscles including those working the vocal cords. This combination leads to very eerie sounds that come from the dead bodies. You can hear groans, moans and squeaks’ from the dead bodies and it’s your choice to either stay around and confirm whether they are really dead or run for your life.
10. Giving birth
Some time ago when people dropped dead like flies, some women would die while pregnant; sometimes, the times would be too cold for a proper burial. This led to the term ‘coffin birth’. The softening of flesh and the gas build up were said to combine and expel the fetus. These were rare events that caused lots of rumors. It sounds unreal but it happened and this is another reason you should be glad you are living in the modern world.