Crime Writer’s Resource – The Human Body After Death

Writers Write is a writing resource. Crime writers can use this resource for describing the human body after death.

26 Stages of Decomposition in the Human Body


The Moment Of Death: 

1. The heart stops.
2. The skin gets tight and ashen in colour.
3. All the muscles relax.
4. The bladder and bowels empty.
5. The body temperature begins to drop 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit per hour.

After 30 minutes: 

6. The skin gets purple and waxy.
7. The lips, fingernails, and toenails fade to a pale colour.
8. Blood pools at the bottom of the body.
9. The hands and feet turn blue.
10. The eyes sink into the skull.

After 4 hours: 

11. Rigor mortis has set in.
12. The purpling of the skin and the pooling of the blood continue.
13. Rigor continues to tighten muscles for another 24 hours or so.

After 12 hours: 

14. The body is in full rigor mortis.

After 24 hours: 

15. The body is now the temperature of the surrounding environment.
16. In males, the semen dies.
17. The head and neck are now a greenish-blue colour.
18. The greenish-blue colour spreads to the rest of the body.
19. There is a pervasive smell of rotting meat.
20. The face of the person is essentially no longer recognisable

After 3 days: 

21. The gas in the body tissues forms large blisters on the skin.
22. The whole body begins to bloat and swell grotesquely.
23. Fluids leak from the mouth, nose, vagina, and rectum.

After 3 weeks: 

24. The skin, hair, and nails are so loose they can easily be pulled off the corpse.
25. The skin bursts open on many places on the body.
26. Decomposition will continue until the body is nothing but skeletal remains, a process that can take a month or so in hot climates, and two months or more in cold climates.

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Posted on: 22nd March 2013