Show Mobile Navigation

Top 10 Occurrences Before and After Death

Mary Werner . . . Comments

The human body is such a complex and interesting series of energy give and take. But what happens when an individual’s health deteriorates and, finally, they come face-to-face with death itself? I am of the opinion that in order to understand how the body runs and operates, it is essential to know how the body operates when it’s not, well… operating. What happens when cells no longer divide and ATP (energy carriers in cells) is no longer available? Even the moments up until the final breath give insight into abnormal functioning of a human body. This list will show you, in rough order, 10 significant changes in the human body that occur peri (during) and post mortem. Memento Mori. PLEASE NOTE: some of the entries on this list may be disturbing or upsetting – but care has been taken to ensure that no gruesome images appear.


Death Rattle


The death rattle is a common term used in the hospital to describe the chilling sound made by an individual very near death. It occurs after loss of the cough reflex and loss of the ability to swallow. This causes an excess accumulation of saliva in the throat and lungs. Although it rarely causes pain to the patient, family members often find the sound unsettling and disturbing. Anyone who has ever heard the unsettling death rattle will never forget the way it sounded. Suctioning, anti-pain and anti-anxiety medications are normally administered to alleviate the patient’s discomfort, and to allow the unavoidable dying process to proceed. [Image: Lord Byron on his Death-bed; Joseph Denis Odevaere]

Learn more about the way the body acts in its final moment with Anatomy of Life and Death at!


Cheynes-Stokes Respiration

Deathbed 3

This is a very abnormal breathing pattern characterized by very rapid breathing and then periods of no breathing (apnea). In short terms, the heart is weak and overworked and this makes the body want to hyperventilate (breathe abnormally fast) and, subsequently, there is no more energy to breathe for a period of time (apnea). This means the organs are getting less blood and, thus, less oxygen. Without oxygen, the cells in the organs begin to die, then the organs die and finally the individual dies. Although it can also occur in people with heart failure, or other respiratory disorder, it is usually present at a time of impending death. [Image: By the Deathbed; Edvard Munch]



Young Woman Death Bed Hi-1

Upon death, every muscle in the human body will cease to receive energy in the form of ATP. As a result, the bowels will relax and a bowel movement can occur. This is especially true in individuals who have eaten a meal in the period shortly before their time of death. Another factor contributing to post mortem defecation is how quickly an individual’s body normally digests food. It is found more often in the unexpected deaths of, otherwise, healthy individuals. Patients in hospice centers may not have an appetite for several days before death and, thus, will probably not defecate upon their death beds (no pun intended). [Image: Young woman on her death bed; Anonymous, Flemish School]


Rigor Mortis


Everyone has either heard of rigor mortis, or has found a dead pet with rigor mortis. The most well-known post-mortem occurrence is rigor mortis, or “stiffness of death.” After death, the body is unable to break the bond that causes a contraction – causing a perpetual state of contraction. It works in a head-to-toe fashion. In most cases, rigor mortis begins within 1-3 hours after death, and it begins to pass after 24 hours. Even the eyelids get rigor mortis, so if they are not closed shut after death, eye caps (a big round lens with spiky protrusions) are used to get them open. Since it affects all the muscles, it can make the heart appear larger than normal, cause semen to be released post mortem, and can cause a goose bump appearance on the corpse. [Image: At the death bed; Samal Joensen Mikines]


Livor Mortis

Gustav-Klimt--Ria-Munk-On-Her-Deathbed-By-Savio-S-Vintage-Art-Qpps 411393873630167

Livor mortis is the purple-red coloration that appears when blood sinks to the dependent portions of the body. It does not occur, however, in areas of the body touching the ground, or that are receiving pressure because the capillaries are compressed – this is similar to pressing your finger on your arm for a couple of seconds and observing your fingerprint in white for about three seconds. This concept helps coroners determine the position of death. Its presence or absence can also help coroners to determine an approximate time of death. It generally begins 1-2 hours after death and becomes permanent or “fixed” within 6-12 hours. [Image: Ria Munk on her Deathbed; Gustav Klimt]


Algor Mortis

Tumblr L2Bl7Lgx3W1Qztk1Wo1 400

Also known as the “death chill;” it is the reduction in body temperature that occurs following death. Cooling takes place only if the ambient temperature is cooler than the body temperature at the time of death. The rate of cooling varies: body location (shade versus sun), clothing and the temperature of the room they die in. A cold bathroom floor would cause much quicker cooling than would be found in someone who dies outside in 95 degree weather. Obese people lose heat slower than infants, who cool rather quickly. If the time of death is within 24 hours, then this is a helpful tool. Otherwise, it takes the body about 24 hours to completely cool, or become the same temperature as its environment. [Image: Death of Pierrot; Aubrey Beardsley]


Tache Noire

1948 7 140

Tache noire, literally meaning “black spot,” is a dark, reddish brown strip that will form horizontally across the eye ball. During life the eye balls are kept moist by blinking, but sometimes they are no longer protected upon death. Therefore, tache noire will occur in individuals whose eyelids are not closed post mortem. Similarly, other mucous membranes like the tongue will darken after prolonged air exposure to the normally moist tissue. If the individual drowned, or the body was found in water, the tache noire would not be present. The eye balls have to be exposed to air for it to occur. [Image: The Death Bed; Kathleen Walne]

Watch all six seasons of the fan-favorite 1,000 Ways To Die at!


Purge Fluid


This is a putrid, reddish-brown fluid with a very foul smell that can emerge from the oral and nasal passages. It is easily mistaken as a brain injury, assault or just simple blood. It emerges as a result of the gases forming throughout the body. When gas formation occurs in the stomach and intestines, the abdomen can become tense and distended. Subsequently, the increase in abdominal pressure causes a purge of foul, blood-tinged fluid from the mouth, vagina and nose. A similar feces-mixed fluid will also emerge from the rectum. Purge fluid can be useful in determining the time of death. If an individual dies in a hotter climate, like Texas or Mexico, the purge fluid can be seen in less than 24 hours. [Image: Puppet on his Death Bed]



H2 49

Degloving is the actual removal of the body’s skin post mortem. Most notably, the fingers and nails detach with sheets of skin thick enough to form “gloves” or “socks” as some people call them. It occurs as a result of the gaseous swelling of the neck, trunk and limbs, that become so swollen that one can mistake it for gross obesity. When the putrid gases are under a substantial amount of pressure, they flee from the body and the entire mass of decaying soft tissues disintegrates. The word “degloving” is an appropriate term because you can actually remove the skin of the hands like you would remove a glove from your own hand. Though, interestingly enough, the underlying skin can still provide a fingerprint for the examiners. [Image: Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill; Pieter Claesz]




Maceration means “to soften by soaking” in Latin. It refers to infants that die in utero, between the sixth and the ninth month of pregnancy. Their decomposition is slightly different due to prolonged exposure or “soaking” in the amniotic fluid. They resemble a corpse soaked in water. The infant’s skin will look like scalding or “boiling burns” due to their skin slipping off the body. Serosanguineous fluid-filled blebs form on the infant, and the bones are very soft and flexible. If the child is kept in utero for several days, the skull collapses and the brain will begin liquefying. If the infant is removed from the uterus within 24 hours after they die, and air enters their body, putrefaction occurs instead of maceration. [Image: Danse Macabre; Bernt Notke]

  • This list inspired me (while I was editing it earlier today) to buy a real human skull (something I have wanted to do for ages!) – if you are my friend on facebook check out my posts today – there is a picture of it! Oh – and if you aren’t a friend on facebook you can add me here.

    • SallySalimander

      Do you know who the skull… Belonged to?

      You totally just ruined me having the honour of first comment by the way :/

      • OddJobb

        JF knows who’s skull it is. It was a skull of…a fellow
        of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
        borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
        abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at it.

      • barry

        usually, when you buy a skull legally, they don’t give the name of the human, they call it ethics.

    • Hi Jamie. Do all lists published on the site get edited these days? A lot of visitors have noticed a slip in standards for many lists, both in writing and in content.

      Ryan Thomas’s lists, for example, are often in need of a good edit. He also writes for another list-based website, and his lists aren’t as bad to read on there, due to editing.

    • Meghan

      I sent you a request, Jamie. I stole Puppet on his Death Bed as my avatar. I would love to have that hanging on my wall.

    • Skulls, and bones in general can be quite expensivedepending upon the condition it’s in, the age of the previous owner, any specifics in disease or unusual features, and of course the species. When I completed my PhD in Anthropology, my mentor gave me a beautifully etched skull from Tibet and the rest of the department gave me an Olmec chalice fashioned from a childs skull and partial femur with gold fittings and ornamentation. I find that I frequently look to them for strength or inspiration when I find myself “stuck”. I also talk to them…someday I’m going to begin a conversation and one of them is going to respond, I just know it. Take care not to expose the skull to too much moisture if it isn’t treated, because it will begin to degrade the finer markings and sutures on the bones. Keep the temperature at a constant level too, even bone can become fragile and delicate, especially around the temple and the jaws. I’d suggest a bell-jar.

  • SallySalimander

    Purge Fluid sounds *gulp* lovely.

  • diana

    This is the best list in a LONG LONG time. Morbidly fascinating. Some of these made my stomach turn.

    • emily_weirdnez

      interesting indeed

  • ASH

    great list loves it

    • Brotron


  • Christine Vrey

    Great morbidly disgusting list today! I knew some of these occurences but not all. Death is so gross, I dont know how necrophelia can exist!!

    • fuck you you fucking fuck

      brilliant, brilliant list, Mary! listverse would SUCK BALLS without lists like this…

    • Murlocwrangler

      agreed, blegh!

    • Necrophiles tend to be in professions where they have access to bodies that have “assumed room temperature” or below and are fairly fresh or in some way treated to handle the detritous that otherwise would be present. The ones who don’t have various mental disorders which also help them to be more comfortable among the dead, even in nonsexual situations. Most necrophiles are fairly quiet and submissive. It’s the Thanatophiles, those in love with every aspect of death, named such after Thanatos the God of Death in Ancient Greece.

  • Simplifried

    This was a great deal more about the subject than I wanted to know.

    • Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland’s How We Die is the perfect book on the subject for the non physician: fascinating, entertaining, informative.

      • Bullamakanka

        Also, Mary Roach’s “Stiff” is a good read, if you have the stomach for some parts.

        (I work part-time for a funeral company, either directing or assisting funeral services. It’s the easier part of the process. I could not be a mortician; the smells above all I could not handle. The chemicals are bad enough.)

        • Yep, “Stiff” *is* another good one.

  • David Hopkins

    The day before our dog died, he was breathing with great difficulty and could barely move any part of his body (he could no longer walk or go anywhere at all). He also had a bowel movement, as described in #8. Myself and my whole family miss him dearly, but he’s with God now.

    Personally, I think this list should have been filed under Science & Nature.

    • Magpie

      A similar thing happened to my old dog too. It was gut wrenching :'(. I also once found my pet budgie dead in its cage and rigor mortis had set in, it took me ages to pry its little claws from the bars of the cage. Very depressing.
      But other than that it was a really good list! :D

      • Bullamakanka

        Our cat was 20, and the decline from relative normalcy to death was rapid, starting with blindness, loss of bowel control and finally a massive fit that had her all over the kitchen floor in spasms; it seemed to alter her brain such that she’d attack anything that came near her. It’s as though there’s a trigger that said “20!? Okay, she’s done,” and it all took place within a week.

        • Magpie

          Its terrible. The only downside to having a pet is knowing they can’t be with you forever :(. But the joy you get from all the years of companionship is indispensable. I hope I’ll always be able to have pets :).

          I’m sorry about your cat, but 20 is a pretty big age to reach. You must have taken good care of it :).

          • Planet Earth

            @ Magpie -The only downside to having a pet is knowing they can’t be with you forever.

            That’s not truth . You can have a bird that will outlive you or a turtle .

          • Magpie

            True. But if the person dies before their pet they’ve still gone to a place where they can’t be with their pet.

          • Innty

            @Planet Earth
            It doesn’t make any difference if a pet outlives its owner or vice versa, in the end your not going to be together forever. You can’t throw a ball and expect a dead dog to fetch it, just like a dog can’t expect it’s dead owner to throw the ball.

          • Scooby

            People are expressing their stories of losing pets and other people still feel the need to nitpick their sentences with useless comments….

          • Meghan

            Very true. My toy poodle, Bella, is about 14 now. I don’t know her exact age as I adopted her around age 7. I love her dearly and I know I will be absolutely devastated when she inevitably passes. She has been there for me through so much. I can’t imagine not having her around.

    • Until reading all these tales of pet death I had no idea the death of my own dog, a Border Collie who died at 17 (almost 18), was so easy. She had no arthritis, no deafness, no blindness. Sure, although she had slowed down some she could still run and pretend she was herding the neighborhood squirrels and birds. The night she died she just walked toward my bedroom, stopped and looked back over her shoulder at me, and continued in. I followed her. She stretched out on the floor,not her usual position for sleep (she always slept on the bed), so I sat on the floor next to her. She curled up in my lap and died.

      That was sad, but I’m heartbroken reading the terrible events of others experience. I’m so sorry :(

      • Donna

        ….even toguhh the topic wasnt feminism? I guess whenever a bunch of women are in a room it MUST be feminism O_o

        • segues

          ????????? Donna, your comment seems to have no connection to my statement. I can’t find any reference to feminism. Can you clarify, please?

      • R.

        Wow. That is an amazing story about your Border Collie. Thanks for sharing.

      • Lover of dogs

        That is a wonderful way to say goodbye.

    • Jazz

      Would have been kind to put the dog out of its misery rather than waiting for it to die. This is an important part of pet ownership.

      • Jazz

        Sorry my comment was specifically for David Hopkins.

    • Spengler

      Sadly, there is no god your dog can be. But, even in the remote event a god should exist, it has stated over and over that animals DO NOT have a soul. So, even in this unlikely case, your dog won’t be with god anyway. Grow up and accept our mortality.

      • Spengler “…it has stated over and over that animals DO NOT have a soul…”


        The mere repeating of a statement does not make it a a fact.

      • Meghan

        I’m not sure if souls exist or not, but if I have one, then so must my dog.

        • p1t1o

          I’d agree with that.

  • Plush

    Very interesting list!

  • bengalpuss29

    brilliant list i couldn’t believe some of the things that happen to you when you die. mind you your not gonna really care once your dead, but that business about fluid coming out of your orifice’s is enough to not want a job as an embalmer yuk.

  • Disturbing but absolutely amazing list. Perfect for the first day back at work. The Puppet on his Death Bed image was quite interesting, loved it. #1 seemed like it would be an absolute nightmare to go through. I wonder though if a person “birthed” a still born child who died at 6/7 months, would the skin peel off during the birth? or maybe come out in bits?

  • Mon

    As a nurse, one thing that i will never forget when i was in college was when i deliver a stillborn baby. And he smelled like a super sweet ripe papaya. I proceed to do all the things that we do to a live birth except suctioning. As I was cleaning the baby of what I initially thought was vernix (a waxy substance found in a newborn skin), I looked closely and realized that it was the very first thin layer of his skin. He was also very soft, imagine filling a ball with water but not enough to make its surface rigid, that’s how soft it was. The baby’s mom and I are Catholics, so I also proceed with a kind of baptismal. I signed a cross on his forehead with water.

    • Mon

      His skin was literally peeling off.

      • ASH

        goddamn that is messed up death is gross

        • Mon

          It wasn’t messed up. i wasn’t grossed at all giving the little baby some nursing care. until now i can still remember how pouting his lips were and how long curly his eyelashes. He would have been a cute little baby.

          Unfortunately, the mom was irresponsible. She never see a doctor until her 10th (yes 10th) month. We had to artificially induce her labor. So instead of delivering a healthy baby a month before, her baby died inside her womb for staying too long.

          • I respect people like you. People who have not lost the ability to take care

          • Mon

            Thanks, monsette! :)

            I actually am not working as a nurse anymore. There are just too many nurses here in my country, I couldn’t find a place for me. I am working now as science Research Specialist :)

    • The world needs more people like you.

    • Hannah

      You are an angel. If there is an afterlife, that baby knew you loved him.

    • This is a horrible, sad story but I have to post it because it’s relevant to maceration…

      My US Hisotry teacher my Junior year of high school told us about how his grandmother was an ER nurse or so, and once they had a homeless woman come in. She’d been raped… God knows how many months earlier and she was pregnant, when they tried to deliver the baby it fell apart in my teacher’s grandmother’s hands. Literally just disintigrated.

      Horrible story, sorry.

      • Feel so bad for many in the situation, the baby, the Mother and the Nurse. An ordeal as such must be hard to forget

  • Great list.

    Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland has written several books on the subject of the inner workings of the body, How We Die is probably the best known. For anyone who wants to know more about how the body shuts down I highly recommend it. Another of his books, The Wisdom of the Body (also published as How We Live) is an equally fascinating look at how the body functions during life.

    All his books are well worth the reading, and will both entertain and inform.

    • SallySalimander


      • Awze


      • cblouin


      • another brilliant comment by the salimander

        • Jille

          BOOM SEGUESHOT!!!

        • guy who says Haa! Haa! on the simpsons

          Haa! Haa! Double Segueshot!!

    • TheCapitalLetter

      It is incredible that there aren’t more people reading those type of books, considering the number of films and telle showing forensics who solve the mysteries of deathly crimes, I would think the fans want to know how the work’s done.

      • TheCapitalLetter “It is incredible that there aren’t more people reading those type of books, considering…”


        Right, and there are so many excellent books available!

        yeah, yeah, I know…

    • Meghan

      Ok I just ordered “Stiffs”, “How We Die” and another forensic book from Amazon. I couldn’t find “Wisdom of the Body” though. I’m not too macabre. I’m a forensic chemistry major.

      • segues

        “Wisdom of the Body” was also published as “How We Live”. The publisher thought more people would relate to that title since “How We Die” was already popular.

        • Meghan

          Thanks, Segues. You are feeding my addiction to forensics books. lol Well, it is the field I intend to work in so I try to learn as much as I can. Thanks!

          • Meghan

            And it’s ordered, thanks to Amazon. I have to stop myself. I will read anything forensic related. Anyone know any good books on forensic psychology?

          • segues

            I hate to do this to you but Why They Kill by Richard Rhodes is pretty good. The Anatomy of Motive by John Douglas explores that topic from the angle of the criminal profiler.

          • Meghan

            Hey, just feed the beast. lol Well, I will use the information I get from these books for good. I appreciate the heads up for books that are relevant to what I am studying. Thanks!

  • neil

    Breath of Corruption????

  • Amanda

    The death rattle is the worst sound I’ve ever heard. It sounds almost like a coffee maker brewing. My father passed a year and a half ago, and I still can’t hear coffee brewing without thinking about it.

    Very interesting list. Thanks!

    • diana

      Good Lord! That must have given you endless nightmares. I’m sorry for your loss.

    • Jimbo

      A friend of mine died a couple of years ago in hospital. We were all with him as he was slipping away. I never realised the gurgling noise he was making was called the death rattle. I knew what it was, I just never realised it had a name. That’s one day I’ll never forget.

    • Scarleth

      SOAS007 on April 14, 2011 @maciejadams “a ltltie worry that this song is immoral ” no it isn’t. It just points out the hypocricy of those that play the race card, for nothing, and those that take offence at everything, trying to stop free speach.

  • Veronica

    Great list! We need more of this type these days… Every now and then we get a good one but none as good as the ones jfrater would write about the weird and strange.

    • I’ll be back… :) I have some ideas in the works!

    • Ruslan

      Cargo1273 on October 2, 2007 I buhogt one like this one 3-days ago in Gold Mist with Cocoa and Light Cashmere leather to match my 2008 Black Raven Escalade. Awesome ride. The only complaint I have about it is the navigation and/or the software seems to be defective, everytime I start the engine I have to press the damn “OK” disclaimer in order to use the navigation., plus on top of that, the voice prompts are either late or too early., sometimes it doesn’t even give the correct directions at all.

      • Cfolsom1


  • Not Being Fresh

    Great. Now I won’t be able to get back to sleep because this list creeped me out.

    • Vikash

      aakewy007 on December 19, 2010 wow what a disgrace! I dont know why this class is called HULA and not TAHITIAN!!! this is not HULA at all!!! come down to Hawaii and check out the definition of HULA.

  • Two thumbs up and a smiley face for a great list Mary! :)

  • Ocelotty1

    Excellent list, a great return to form on this site, albeit with a morbid subject matter

    • Heh I think the two go hand in hand :) The death lists are always the most fascinating (at least in my opinion) – they are definitely my favorite ones to write. This list inspired me (while I was editing it earlier today) to buy a real human skull.

  • Well done Mary, this is the best list in absolutely ages. Top marks for topic, structure, writing and tone. Educational and interesting. Pay attention to those two words Ryan Thomas.

  • I’m planning to write a story about two brothers that are living in the midst of a civil war. After all the hardships that they’ve been through, the younger brother dies on the last days of said war, causing the older to go crazy. He still treated the corpse as if his brother was alive and I need information as to how the body is 12-48 hours after death so this list serves me right.

    Anyways, yeah purge fluid xD not to mention the orange juice beside my laptop right now.

  • pedro

    Cheynes-Stokes respiration is caused by the cerebellum forcing the person to breathe when oxygen levels drop rather than in response to an increase in CO2 levels. It does happen in dying people, but also inome premure babies.

    • Cheynes-Stokes breathing is symptomatic of central sleep apena, too, a condition I have.

      • Jille


  • tintreas

    Nearly made it to the end but my stomach is twisting.

    So so so vile, at least now I understand how the pin the time of death in murder novels.

  • fraterhater

    Nothing better than listverse to provide a light hearted read at the end of a hard day.

  • Lisa Marie

    I applaud the writer for not using ghastly images. Otherwise, great list! Macabre et al, but good list!

    • The images were especially chosen to give a more human face (through art) to the act of dying. I think real images of each stage would have made this amazing list inaccessible to many people.

      • Napalm

        True that. I don’t think I could have made it through this list if it had actual pics with it. Excellent list, one of the best i’ve read in a while! Very interesting, thank you!

      • Lisa Marie


  • Missy

    I’m familiar with these terms as I’m a medical typist and work in a laboratory.
    Thank you for this list, very interesting.

  • fan02

    for those interested in hearing the death rattle sound:

    • I am too scared to listen to that.

      • The Mick

        me too. i was 14 when i had a cousin of the same age make that noise when he was dying in bed. i still remember it. that was 30 years ago. dont wanna HEAR it again…

        • Joana

          Opera is the most classic play on taehtre. I’m very delighted to be able to see the best opera from other countries in Bangkok. I wish to see more of them in the near future.

      • TheCapitalLetter

        And still, you want a skull. What if you get up at night for a snack and see it just morbidly starring at you with its non-existent eyes?

        • Meghan

          Lol I’m the same way. I won’t listen to the death rattle, but I would like to have a full human skeleton. Sort of off topic, I can’t stand to listen to EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon, allegedly ghosts talking) but I can look at all sorts of gory pictures. I know it doesn’t make sense but I can stand more with my eyes than my ears for some reason.

          • Oicutey

            I am EXACTLY the same way Meghan! Its odd how creeped out we get when we hear things but can see things that are so morbid and gory yet be okay with it. I live in a haunted house and when they caught about 12 EVPS from the 2 investigations here.. I have ONLY listened to them once. That was about 6 years ago and to this day I will not listen to them again even tho I’m not scared at what happens here, just gosh.. EVP’s are horrible..Another reason i will NOT listen to the Death Rattle link. I’ve heard it once in a video online once, and had to stop it a few seconds in. It is truly a horrible sound.
            (P.S. even tho most of the EVP’s recorded in my house were not mean or angry, they still creep me out!)

    • segues

      My mum died at home and I heard that sound, although her’s was a bit more clickish (hard to describe…rattle click click rattle click click clickclick…).
      It went on for more than 8 hours.
      Truly horrible to hear.
      The only saving graces were that my children weren’t home, and the home care nurse assured me it wasn’t painful.

  • Refreshing to see a decent list. :)

  • chela

    interestingly morbid :D

  • coenobita

    Wonderful artwork.

  • Will Trame

    Depressingly morbid.

  • dee

    FINALLY A great list!!

    • Emilia

      mmobear:Greg,What a stroke of luck to have been fottunare enough to snatch the last available copy on hand of Prairie Dust from the table as you were packing up to leave saturday at the Motorcycle Show! Timing is everything as they say, a few moments later and I would not have had the pleasure this past week to enjoy such a story of pioneering,engineering and Vintage Motorcycle Canadiana. It is with bittersweet Irony I realise now, that I have come across MMM on many occasions at various swap meets and have not had the insight to realize the immense value it offers, I will of course have to remedy this and ensure that I secure a copy as soon as posible.You’ve done a supurb job of capturing the man, recreating the time and telling the story.

  • Liam

    Great list. Interesting info and I loved all the paintings.

  • HelloGrumpy

    So morbid yet so beautiful. One of the most interesting lists.

    After long wait!

  • Jessie

    So fascinating, not sure why, but it definately is. And well written also, thanks for the list

  • oouchan

    Love morbid topics like this! Quite interesting as well. Knew of some of these having taken some classes in criminal justice. Number one was the most cringe-worthy.

    Well done.

  • mohamedchan

    dont read when you are high

  • I wonder what the death rattle of the Smiths sounded like.

    • The Mick

      i believe that it was “Golden Lights”… hehe

  • mom424

    Great list – perfect. The subject matter was treated with due reverence and respect. And the art? Just beautiful.

    More of the same please.

  • Fluids

    a very well versed article liked it =D

  • Jille

    As an autopsy assistant I can attest to the fact that sudden deaths always shit their pants. Undressing them is extremely unpleasant. The smell of death I can handle, shit, not so much. The only bodies I’ve done with eyes closed are infants. Everyone else’s eyes are open. I’ve never seen discoloration in the eyes, and I remove fluid from every one. Infants brains have the consistency of half gelled jello, BTW, so after soaking in amniotic fluid it would turn to liquid. Their eyes and liver are are adult-sized also.

    • Planet Earth

      @ Jille

      You can handle dead bodies but you can’t handle poop . LOL

      Now that’s funny

    • Jes

      I also work for the coroner’s office and I would have to disagree that sudden deaths always “****” their pants, and I work in a county with one of the highest homicide rates! I will agree that mostly everyones eyes are open though, at least partially. I too, have never seen discoloration in eyes, except for of course in strangulation,etc.

      Also, a side to to everyone else..the death rattle can occur after death. Usually when we find someone who has been deceased in a certain position and then we move them, we”ll hear it. I hate that sound, and the first time I heard it almost fainted!

      • Jille

        That’s not what I would call a death rattle, that’s the final expiration of air from their lungs. Doesn’t last long. I suspect you don’t actually perform the autopsies. If they didn’t shit before they hit the table, they will while you’re removing the organs due to the pressure.

        • Jes

          Yes, I do the autopsies and I still stand by what I said. Of course not to say it doesnt happen, and of course we are elbow deep in poo during every autopsy, but not from anything that came out of their, uh, orifices. And I suppose the death rattle and final air expiration are different in that one continues and one happens only once but they are the same “coffee brewing” sound.

  • vanowensbody

    Great list

  • Gemfyre

    Fascinating stuff.

  • Meli

    Great list! Very interesting

  • Darren

    Well that was creepy as hell. But well done.

  • Speechless. Thanks for killing my Monday, if not my entire week.

    • Dexter

      ummmmm you didnt have to read it…..

  • undaunted warrior 1

    Fantastic just a fantastic list today, I have always been fasinated by death, a couple of years ago Jamie also did a list or two along the same lines.

    You have outdone yourself with this one Mary, well researched and written

  • Magnumto

    Very, very interesting list. Thanks, Mary!

  • Sbtier

    Interesting list and well-written. THANK you for putting some nice pictures instead of pictures of the actual processes!

  • Maggot

    Next time a “Disney Songs” list gets posted, I can re-read this one to make me feel less nauseated.

  • Purge Juice Anyone?

    I wonder if any of those guy’s from Jackass would be Jackass enough to gulp down some purge juice?

  • Dak

    The Claesz painting from #2 is awesome, I recently studied it for an art history project :)

  • dale

    Wow this is the first list that actually made me unconfortable! Very interesting

  • John Doe

    Finally a good list =]

  • Kopmel

    Oh my lord… I’m gonna have nightmares after reading this list…….

  • girlnbayou

    My grandfather died when i was twelve and hours before his passing i went to say my goodbyes and the room had the strangest smell to it. I only experienced it one other time aftr that and it was the day before my uncle died. Ive been told it was the death smell. Anyone ever heard of this? They both passed in their own bedrooms.

    • bengalpuss29

      when my mum passed away at home, She’d been i’ll for quite a while, just before she passed away i noticed a strange smell it wasn.t a bad smell just strange and different. When i mentioned it to my other siblings they noticed it too, also my friend who’s a nurse told me that she and other colleagues of hers detect it also so i wonder if there is something that happens chemically to our body’s when we’re about to die, your not the first to notice that odour.

      • Lisa Marie

        My mom is a health aid and she says for some strange reason when someone is goi9ng to die, there is an influx of houseflies. One day she was by a client and she described so many flies, it was as though they did not want to leave the room, this happened in winter, turns out the guy’s wife was dying and no one knew, I am guessing not even her, she died the next morning and the flies were gone, all of them.

      • Maggot

        A story made the rounds a few years ago about a resident pet cat in a nursing home that would “predict” when someone was about to die by curling up on their bed several hours before it happens. One of the explanations speculated is that the cat can detect this odor of impending death.

        • Meghan

          I like cats, but I would not want that one anywhere near me.

      • mom424

        The smell is caused by ketones – the breakdown of fatty acids as the body starts to digest itself (not literally). My grandma had the same smell and I asked what it was. :(

  • Planet Earth

    Well we all have something in common DEATH .
    I would much prefer dying in a plane crash or Car crash or something else that’s instant . I think it’s more scary laying in bed for 2 weeks waiting to die .

    When i was 17 i almost die in a car crash . I was in pretty bad shape broken bones needed 25 stitches above my left eye ( real close to loosing one of my eyes). I was driving around 70 km/h when a truck hit me head on . When the impact happen i couldn’t breathe all my muscle seize up , but i wasn’t in great pain until the next day .

    When DEATH comes calling i hope it’s instant .

  • Hestie

    Death and taxes… And I thought childbirth was the least glamorous thing on earth..
    Great list!

  • tauntaun

    So, what’s the pun in #8? I just don’t get it if there is one.

  • Hitler d orator

    I was very disturbed by this list, whereas you think you will die peacefully but somehow you will read what will happen to your mortal body in the time of death. Chilling.

  • Lunasee

    An excellent albeit slightly disconcerting list.

  • Dani

    Well the number one item on the list was a bit upsetting for me (3 mo pregnant), but other than that, neat list. :)

    • Nature

      Then maybe you should see the things that happen to your body when you give birth? Not in a scary haunting way, but just to know dead people are not the only ones to defecate in their beds…

  • chunky

    Informative and innovative list. This might be nominated as best list of this year.

    • Battman

      Only 355 days for someone to write a better one.

  • Tassie Devil

    This is the reason I started clicking on Listverse. More of this please.

  • Princess711

    I was SO excited, for this list you have no idea! I know that sounds terrible because it was about death but a) morbid things fascinate me and b) it was soooo interesting lol! And I love how everyone is getting along! Everyone has this in common, and everyone has been touched by death! Tha ms for writing this amazing list (and not putting the gory pictures!)

  • Zoey

    Loved the list very informative and the pictures chosen where beautiful. A lot of the paintings captured the sullen mood of death. Yet the peacefulness of it as well.

  • Battman

    Awesome list about a rather macabre subject. Unfortunately, death is something that none of us can ever avoid, no matter how hard we try.

  • cate

    Love this list- this is one of my favorite macabre topics to read about. Another thing that happens shortly before death is ‘mottling’- the bluing, sometimes blotchy discoloration (cyanosis) of the skin, starting at the extremities and working the way up to the trunk as a result of the body shunting the blood to the more vital organs as the heart is getting weaker. We see that a day or two in patients prior to death.

  • cate

    Dying patients will also sometimes have odors. Sometimes it’s sweet from ketoacidosis as they haven’t eaten in days or weeks, sometimes foul smelling from kidney failure (uremic type of smell).

  • Karen

    Can we have more weird lists like this? This is the first list I’ve seen in months that was interesting enough to read!

  • Adriana


  • p1t1o

    I have never had a pet die whilst I was present, nor ever been old enough at the time to register a relative dying. Though some of the concepts here appear revolting and/or disturbing, it strikes me that there are a lot of things in the world that are revolting/disturbing, it is almost an arbitrary thing. I imagine experiences like delivering a stillborn or hearing a death rattle can be chilling, but the concept of death and decomposition don’t disturb me any more than, say, gutting the goose we had for Christmas dinner. I don’t mean to say I want to eat dead people, nor do I want to trivialise death by relating the dead to delicious food – but it was quite a gross experience, however I knew it was going to be a delicious meal, and that all edible creatures must go through this process, and that there are similar gubbins inside of me. In other words, the “gross” parts of life are often the most normal parts, I think that its just that we arn’t used to seeing them in detail.
    Perhaps I would feel different if I had had more experience with the dead and/or dying but I wondered after reading many comments from people who have had more intimate experiences how my view would compare.
    And just in case it is of interest:
    I am, however, a bit freaked out by brain stuff, ie: when I die I want all of me to go at the same time, and not through some fatal brain injury of any kind (that bit in Hannibal where he eats a piece of the guys brain whilst he sits there alive made my skin crawl.)
    If suicide became necessary I would choose exsanguinations (fast and catastrophic blood loss).
    Aside from not wanting to leave at an inopportune moment nor miss anything nor suffer discomfort or pain, I think that dying will be my last adventure, and am quite looking forward to it – though of course I would rather it did not come unexpectedly or too soon, there is no rush, I won’t miss it.

  • Liz

    So glad my culture & religion tells people to bury their dead in less than a day. I’d be mortified (if I could while dead) if people saw me oozing stinking slime all over the place! Good list!

  • Mira Bel

    Disturbing but I really liked this list!! Very informative and well researched. Great job!

  • m list

    interesting list. the only person i’ve known die was my old great aunt. i went to her funeral and i half expected i would see her stinkin and rotting in her casket, as this was my first funeral. the mortician did a good job of making her up nice. it was sad and spiritual. lol

    • p1t1o

      lol? lol

  • Lifeschool

    Really good list – obviously written by someone who knows what they are talkig about. Feel quite bad now – I don’t like death.

  • Asiah

    Very informative. It’s quite a comfort to know what happens after you die, and I’m not being sarcastic either :)

  • Lady sphinx

    I have seen #10 & #9 two times as I was next to my death bed of my grandfather and my great grandmother it was very unsettling and I expierence rigor mortis with my daughter something you don’t easily forget either. I hope that I will not need to witness any more of these things happening again.

  • anonymous

    Wow, this made me really not want to die of natural causes. Can I… just be abruptly incinerated or something?

  • r0s13L1n3

    Before death, the person’s outer extremities (such as the toes, then feet, then lower leg, etc.) starts to get colder. I see that often in nursing homes with patients. That’s when you can tell that it is almost time for them to pass away, even before the death rattle becomes apparent. Usually, we just sit next to him/her and hold their hand, offer comfort, talk to them in a soothing voice. Even if they stop responding, it is better for them to know that someone is beside them. The first time, I cried. The last time, I still cried.

  • Meghan

    Is liver mortis the same as lividity?

  • Gaara

    It’s my own damn fault for starting this list while having dinner. The “Purge Fluid” entry almost made me gag but I couldn’t stop. Interesting list. Morbid… but interesting nonetheless.

  • Reblogged this on Kittenmittensjm's Blog.

  • Geovanna

    mrekurdid200 on March 1, 2011 @Cargo1273 Or are you paying for $20,000 more for a IMO less original and appealing interior or a engine with an extra 100 Horsepower?? Doesn’t seem like a good deal to me? Im just trying to say that people dont buy Navigators just because they cant afford it alot of people buy them because maybe they are like me and like it more than the Escalade? Thats just my opinion and I dont think you should be going around telling people what the can and cannot afford, for all you know, He may own a Lambo

    • sparkxlife

      huh? Wrong post?

  • lynn

    I don’t want to die like this, want a singing noise to come from my mouth, I want my smell to be sweet and I want to purge chocolate. I don’t even know how I got here, i was searching for a crochet pattern.

  • cizarre

    Death Rattle Whoa! Reminds me of the sound that creeps each time I watched Asian Horror Movies.

  • ParusMajor

    “I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
    -Woody Allen-

  • Cfolsom1

    You seem to be the type of person that tries to sound cool and pretend to have some experience when you’re probably are an assistant. Also, you seem to have no respect for actual professionals. The fact that you said what you said proves that you are, in fact, an idiot. Congrats!

    • megamel99

      Who are you talking to?

  • there are a few other interesting occurences post mortem. The jaw will open if not secured, the tongue will usually become a little engourged and the lips will pull back as if in a scream. to prevent this, modern embalming techniques (which btw are extremely carcinogenic, requiring the mortician to wear heavy lined rubber gloves and an OSHA approved respirator device. keep that in mind before you touch grandmothers hand at her funeral. also this is the reason for the use of vaults and heavy, lined and waterproof caskets, because the run off from a cemetary can be extremely detrimental to local flora and fauna and god forbid it gets into the local watershed). stitch the gums and lips together and the eyes will begin to liquify, which will be replaced with eye rounds to give the illusion they are just closed. Embalming fluids are run through the arteries after the blood has been removed with a low pressure pump and a little gravity, and it isnt uncommon for the already paper thin skin of the elderly to rupture or leak a bit, don’t worry, a good mortician will have this sorted out before (usually) the corpse is displayed at the wake/viewing.