It is the one thing we never think about and the one thing no one can escape. Death comes to us all and when it comes it’s not going to be pretty. Though it is easier to see in the movies or on TV, it scares us and disturbs us when we see it happen to someone in front of us or someone we know. It disturbs and makes us paranoid because it is something over which we have no control, something from which there is no return. That finality of death is hard to process and the non-existence of our being after death is impossible for the brain to comprehend. If you want to know some facts about death, you must read on at your own peril.
Warning, NSFW Content!
1. Within three days of death, the enzymes that once digested your dinner begin to digest you.
During the process of digestion, the stomach releases enzymes and acids that breakdown bigger molecules of food into smaller ones so they can be absorbed by the body as nutrients. The cells lining the inner walls of your intestines are said to release as much as two liters of HCl (hydrochloric acid). Since the acid is corrosive the intestines regularly secrete a thick coating of mucus. These secretions cease after you die. As the mucus becomes depleted the enzymes and the acids start eating through your intestinal tissues.(source)
2. The practice of burying the dead dates as far back as 300,000 years.
Burying the dead was part of the doctrine of Paleolithic religions and is believed to have started during the Middle Paleolithic as a religious practice. The earliest confirmed records of burial, however, date back as much as 100,000 years and were found in the Skhul Cave at Qafzeh, Israel. The skeletal remains were stained in red ochre and were often found to be buried along with other items such as the lower jaw of a wild boar in the arms of the deceased.(source)
3. About 100 billion people have died in all of human history.
Our current world population is 7.4 billion and growing, while according to the estimates by the Population Reference Bureau, there are over 107 billion people who ever lived on this planet. That means for every one living person there are about fifteen dead people. In fact, the seven billion mark for the number of dead people to equal the number of living was passed somewhere between 8,000 BC and 1 AD. Ironically, though the population in the past was less than what it is now, there was a significant drop in birth rate in the 20th century from forty births per 1,000 people per year to twenty-three. There is, however, an unprecedented increase in life expectancy in the 20th century.(1, 2)
4. Medical mistakes kill over 250,000 Americans each year. If they were a disease, they would be the 3rd leading cause of death in the US.
According to a study by surgeon and John Hopkins University professor, Martin Makary, medical mistakes are the third leading cause of deaths in the U.S., the first being heart disease and the second cancer. According to an estimate by the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, 98,000 deaths are attributed each year to medical errors. In 2010, 180,000 Medicare patient deaths were reported by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. In 2013 a NASA toxicologist whose son died of what he believes to be medical error estimated the deaths to be between 210,000 and 440,000 a year.(source)
5. As a person dies, the sense of hearing is the last to go.
There are several things that happen as a person is dying. The breathing pattern changes, there might be hallucinations, agitation, and loss of appetite. There will be changes in skin color and temperature, changes in bowel and bladder functions, and relaxation of muscles as the blood moves away from the extremities. Among all the things that stop working hearing is the last sense to go in a dying person according to Dr. Katherine Clark, a staff specialist in palliative care, at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. She cites this was indicated by the ECGs of various people’s brains during death.(source)