Read to find out more about the complex process of death.
Death is a concept and a phenomenon that is ever-present throughout the lives of every human being, and the idea has intrigued humanity in terms of exploring what the process means and how it transpires.
Throughout the centuries of scientific progress, death as a phenomenon has been categorized through different stages, and it is a process that every living being undergoes.
What defines death?
The process of death is defined as the cessation of bodily functions which further activates the physical deterioration of the body. Death occurs when vital functions of the body are affected to the point of stoppage, such as respiratory, heart, and brain functions.
Following the process of death are various patterns and changes within the body as well as externally as well, reports Very Well Health. The changes occur through various stages which follow a particular timeline.
Moment of death
Death as a concept and a phenomenon can occur in various ways, thus the question of whether death is painful can vary drastically depending on the situation and the ailments. For example, certain medical conditions can generate pain during the moment of death, but in the example of cancer, pain medication is usually given so that moment of death can transpire peacefully.
There is a general idea that death is instant, but Very Well Health reports that the brain may continue to function for nearly 10 minutes after a person dies. This means that there is a chance that a person can perceive the process of death during their last moments.
There are medical standards established in order to declare a person dead, and it usually involves determining in a person has ceased to breathe, inability to detect a pulse, lack of reaction within the pupils in response to bright lights, etc. Ultimately, these standards are officially followed in a hospital setting.
One hour after death
The moment of death induces a state that's termed Primary Flaccidity, which is a process where all the muscles of the body relax. This means that the body becomes flexible to a certain degree.
Once the heart stops, the body starts to become pale, a process that is termed Pallor Mortis. Essentially, the blood from the skin begins to drain from within the veins in the skin, which gives the body a pale look.
As the body stops pumping blood, the temperature begins to drop and it reaches the temperature of the air around the body. This process is known as Algor Mortis, and it is also termed as 'death chill.' This is what allows forensic experts to determine the time of death.
2 to 6 hours after death
As the body stops pumping blood, the effects of gravity take over, and the blood begins to pool in the areas of the body that are closest to the ground. This process is termed Livor Mortis. If the body is not moved during this process, purple-reddish discoloration starts to show up where the blood is pooling, which is sometimes referred to as Postmortem Stain.
After three hours have passed, Rigor Mortis officially sets in, which is the process of chemical changes within the body influencing the muscles to stiffen. Usually, the neck, jaw, and eyelids are the first muscles to be affected. In terms of the eyelids, this could explain the process of closing a person's eyes after death, so that it doesn't rigidly remain open.
7 to 12 hours after death
This is the point where the stiffness of the muscles will be at its maximum, although the exact timing of this process can vary depending on the physical condition, age, and gender of the person, in addition to environmental factors such as the air and other elements.
At this moment the limbs of the person who has died will be very difficult to move, and additionally, the fingers and the knees can look crooked due to the rigidity of the body.
12 hours after death
Once the maximum point of rigidity presents in the body, the body will go through what's described as Secondary Flaccidity, where the muscles loosen up once again and maintain that looseness.
The process of Rigor Mortis begins to fade in the opposite direction, and throughout the next 48 hours, it will dissipate from the toes and fingers and further moving to the face. Once this process concludes, the body will entirely be relaxed once again, which is the final process before the body begins to decompose.