Stages After Death

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Stages After Death

Stages after death stages of death

Death isn’t something we wish to happen to us, death isn’t something we want to happen to us. However, dying is an inevitable part of life. Death is the final and conclusive chapter to life. Quickly following are the stages after death, these can be broken down into autolysis, the bloat, active decay and skeletonization. The time taken for the final stages after death to occur depend on the state and the environmental conditions the human body is left in.

The Stages After Death (Human Decomposition)?

The term ‘human decomposition’ is used to describe the process of human bodily tissues breaking down. As stated above this process can heavily vary depending on the conditions which the human body is left in and the environment surrounding the body. The stages after death (human decomposition) usually start the process around 5 minutes after dying. The different stages of death can produce horrible smells and disturbing sights, to view decomposing bodies type ‘body farm’ into Google Images.

Recommended Reading List

The book Human Body Decomposition by Jarvis Hayman follows up in more detail about bodily decay and the timeline we all face a head. The fate of the human body after death is a subject that has fascinated enquirers, both in the scientific and legal realms for millennia. However, objective research into the causes and nature of human decomposition has only taken place in the last two centuries, and quantitative measurement of the process as a means of estimating the time of death has only recently been attempted.

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Stage One After Death: Autolysis

The first stage after death is referred to as autolysis. This describes the process which follows quickly after dying. Once the heart has stopped beating, blood can no longer flow through the body. Basic biology states that the body needs to supply oxygen to cells, waste gases such as carbon dioxide also need to be removed. Now with the respiration system no longer working, this process cases to function. Excess carbon dioxide causes an acidic environment forcing the membrane within cells to expand to the point where is bursts. Now the body will start to self-digest, the membranes within the ruptured cells release enzymes which start eating the body.

During this stage rigor mortis will start to set it, this causes the muscles to stiffen and go rigid. Rigor mortis will also cause small blisters to develop on the internal organs. As this is happening the body may appear have a small glow to is as the blisters are beginning to burst.

This stage of death normally occurs within around 24-72 hours.

Stage Two After Death: The Bloat

The stages after death will include the bloating. The process of self-digestion causes the enzymes to start producing gases, this is generally what causes the bad smells. The bad smells are referred to as putrefaction. Within around three to five days after dying the skin will discolor due to the sulfur-containing compounds that the bacteria release. Enough gas will be produced where the body can double in size. However, this depends on the state of the body at death.

This stage of death normally occurs within around three to ten days of dying.

Stage Three After Death: The Decay

The following stage which follows is process of the organs, muscles, and skin starting to liquefy. This is the stage where the body will lose the most mass. Here is where the main transition between body and skeleton will occur. The fluids will be released through the orifices at the start of active decay. After all of the body’s soft tissue is decayed some byproducts will remain. These byproducts will include bones, cartilage and hair. This process will generally take place weeks after death.

Stage Four After Death: Skeletonization

The final stage after death is the process of the skeleton breaking down and decomposing. However, as the skeleton does not decompose like soft tissue there is no time frame for period. Bone decomposition rate based on the loss of organic (collagen) and inorganic components.

The narrator in the video above describes the different stages of human decomposition, he went to visit a body farm in Texas. Visiting a body farm will definitely require a strong stomach. These are scientific institutions, there are different body farms all around the country used for various scientific purposes. Researchers will take recently deceased bodies, leave them out exposed to the natural elements and harsh conditions. The researchers will observe and track the progress of the bodily decay.

This research is very helpful especially for law enforcement agents who may be investigating a suspicious or strange death where the body has been left. Using the research being carried out they can determine a rough estimation of the date of death. This information can help lead to the arrest of the person responsible for the death if it was a murder.

Stages of death – Brain Dead Vs Clinically Dead

What’s the different between brain dead and clinically dead? This question gains a lot of media attention and controversy. There are different stages of death, two of these stages include brain dead and clinically dead.

Brain Dead

The death of the brain is called being ‘brain dead’ this describes the state/stage of death of which a person is in after the brain has lost all ability to function, this includes involuntary functions which are necessary to sustaining life. This stage of death is different to a ‘persistent vegetative state’ this is where the person is alive and just a few basic bodily functions remain. In many jurisdictions once a person is brain dead they are also considered legally dead.

During the stages after death while a person is brain dead some natural body movements can occur. The Lazarus sign is the movement of body parts after the brain has died. This can include movement of the arms and legs, in some cases it’s been known that some bodies even raise their arms and drop them over their chest (similar to Egyptian mummies). Just like the knee jerk the Lazarus sign is a result of the neural pathway which passes via the spinal column but not through the brain. This is made possible by life support systems keeping the bodies major organs functional.

When this happens it’s very important that friends, family and health care professions don’t get fault hope. The living cells which cause this to happen are not living cells from the brain but from the spinal cord. Its vitally important that people caring for a brain dead person are able to realistically manage their expectations.

Clinically Dead

Clinical death is the term used for cessation of blood circulation and breathing without depending on life support systems. Both are vital in supporting life, this happens when the heart stops beating, the term used to describe this is cardiac arrest. Historically, in most cases once the blood has stopped circulating the effects are irreversible. Before 20th century treatments such as defibrillation, epinephrine injection and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) once the blood has stopped the patient would be officially declared as dead.

Once the respiratory system ceases to function a loss of consciousness follows seconds after. Now once this occurs, within 20 to 40 seconds later measurable brain activity stops. Sometimes during this period Irregular gasping can happen, this can be mistaken that CPR is not necessary.

Tissues and organs in the body can survive the stages after death/clinical death for rather lengthy periods of time, this is how we are able to carry out producers such as organ transplants. Body parts such as arms and legs can be reattached to the patient within up to 6 hours after no blood circulation at warm temperatures. However, bone, tendon, and skin can survive as long as 8 to 12 hours. On the other hand, the brain is very different within just 3 minutes of clinical death if the patients’ blood circulation has not been restored its very rare that the brain will make a full recovery even with special treatment.

What are enzymes? 

In the stages after death enzymes are proteins found inside the human body, acting as a catalyst to accelerate the rate which a chemical reaction takes place. Enzymes do this by providing an alternative reaction pathway, in turn reducing the required amount of activation energy. There are many different types of enzymes, forming complex shapes to allow smaller molecules inside them. The shape of the enzyme dictates the specific function carried out by the protein. 

Contained within the enzyme is a small area called the active site. Within the human body chemical reactions take place when the substrate molecule enters the specific complementary active site. The active site and enzyme form a complementary shape to the substrate after binding. This process is very specific, only one active site binds to one substrate. There are certain conditions, pH values and optimum temperatures where the enzyme works best. 

The shape of the enzyme can change, if this happens the active site may no longer work. The term used to describe this process is called ‘denatured’. This can also happen if certain conditions change such as the pH value.

Please watch the video above. This very interesting animation makes the comparison between enzymes and Pacman. The narrator carefully describes in detail what an enzyme is, what enzymes are used for and the processes which are involved.

The stages after death/stages of death can be a very traumatic time for close friends or family of the deceased. If you found this article helpful or interesting we only ask you share this with your friends or follow us on Twitter. Please share this article with anyone who may be interested. Please feel free to read some of our related articles on death and subscribe to our news letter below.

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