Graveyard Shift 11 Facts About The Decomposition Rates Of A Body Buried In A Casket  

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While it may be morbid, it's normal to wonder what happens to your body after death. As what happens to your consciousness remains a mystery, learning the established physical facts of the process can be fascinating. The stages of decay in the human body occur right away. What happens when a body decomposes in a casket is a long, complex process. 

Decomposition begins as soon as you die, and continues until your body becomes fossilized. Decomposition in a casket can slow things down, stretching out the process for decades. Learning the facts of the matter will leave you feeling humbled. It's a reminder that, however important we are in life, we all end up dust and bones in the end. 

Your Body Starts Digesting Itself Immediately


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Photo: ZEISS Microscopy from Germany/Wikimedia Commons

Decomposition begins immediately after death, in a stage known as autolysis, or self-digestion. During this process, as the name implies, the body begins digesting itself. As cells are deprived of oxygen, they begin to breakdown and release membranes that are then digested by enzymes. Typically, this begins in the liver and brain due to the high water and enzyme content in these areas. 

Rigor Mortis Sets In After Two To Six Hours


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Photo: Pete/Flickr

As your body eats itself, your internal temperature drops as blood stops flowing. This causes blood to coagulate, stiffening the arteries, veins, and capillaries. This leads to the well-known phenomenon of rigor mortis, in which corpses become stiff and immobile. This usually occurs two to six hours after death.

You Start Changing Colors In 24 Hours


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Photo: Own work/Wikimedia Commons

Rigor mortis lasts about 24 hours. After it passes, blood settles in the area of the body that was closest to the ground at the time of death. The area where blood settles develops a red-brown stain. For example, if you died after falling down headfirst, you would get a blotchy brown stain on your face. Other body parts begin to take on a bluish tinge within eight to 10 hours of death.

Your Start To Smell After Three Days


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Photo: Peter Handke/Flickr

Ever wonder when a corpse starts to smell? A bad odor begins two to three days after death, in a process known as putrefaction. It's caused by micro-organisms in your intestines. These organisms do not die immediately along with you. Instead, after death they being eating through the intestines.

After a few days, micro-organisms spread across your thighs and stomach.  This eventually causes a foul odor, similar to the scent of rotten eggs and methane. Other side effects include a protruding tongue, a greenish patch on the belly, and fluid oozing from the mouth and nostrils.