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What does the body do immediately after death?
cassielx wrote in little_details
My character is sitting in a room with the body of the woman he just strangled/broken her neck (I haven't decided which yet and if it makes a huge difference to the rest of this please yell)I'm trying to describe exactly what the body is doing. From my (limited) knowledge, people don't just die and be still, there's twitching, noises etc and I'm searching for as detailed as possible description of this process.

It turns out that google isn't my friend on this and searches for strangulation, asphyxiation, spinal cord injuries and 'how long does it take for a body to die' just aren't bringing up what i need.

Any help would be appreciated, and thanks in advance

I find this site very helpful and concise.

Well, the muscles relax. Depending on how 'just after' it is - there will be sighing and possibly burping as air leaves the lungs and belly. Bladder and bowel control go - there isn't always a mess, it does depend on when the person ate etc but there's often at least some urine. Blood begins to obey gravity and settle to the parts of the body that are closest to the floor; if she's lying on her back, her face will get grayer/paler and her buttocks, back, etc will begin to look 'bruised' as blood settles in the capilaris. The body cools. Rigor morits doesn't start for a bit.

As the various muscles relax, the eyes (if they're open) may no longer line up the way living eyes do - if one set of muscles relaxes at a slightly different pace, it can pull the eyeball in a random direction.

If the face is to the side, they may drool as whatever saliva was in the mouth follows gravity.

Edited at 2008-11-17 04:53 am (UTC)

This book will tell you more than you ever wanted to know in answer to that question.

Also, Sherwin Nuland's "How We Die", which is so depressing, I can only handle a chapter at a time, and I have to get drunk afterward.



I thought that book was truly fascinating. Especially when he got to the chapter on murder and I realized that the particular murder he was describing was one that had taken place in my town when I was about thirteen or fourteen years old; I remembered the news reports very well!