Interesting Facts about Death
Interesting Facts about Death

61 Grave Death Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published August 22, 2017Updated July 8, 2019
  • Just three days after dying, the enzymes that help break down a person’s food begin to eat that person’s body.[17]
  • Approximately 150,000 people die each day around the world.[17]
  • When people find out they are dying, they experience what's known as an "existential slap," according to palliative care experts. It's the moment when a person knows, on a gut level, that death is close.[6]
  • In New York City, more people commit suicide than are murdered.[14]
  • During the death process, the larynx loses it cough reflex, which creates a buildup of mucous. This causes a “death” rattle, or the gurgling or rattle-like sound of someone dying.[17]
  • Soon after death, a person’s eyeballs flatten due to the loss of blood pressure.[17]
  • Between 1 to 9 minutes after death, a person’s pupils begin to dilate and cloud over. The cloudy look is from the potassium in the red blood cells breaking down. Because most people die with their eyes open, the process usually occurs fairly quickly, though it can take up to 3 hours in some cases.[17]
  • Mistakes on a doctor’s note, mainly due to messy handwriting, kill over 7,000 people in the U.S. each year.[3]
  • Interesting Funeral Fact
    The history of the funeral service is a history of mankind
  • The emergence of funeral rites is the best indicator of the emergence of modern man (Homo sapiens).[17]
  • Even after 6 hours of dying, a person’s muscles continue to spasm periodically.[17]
  • Compared to right-handers, left-handers die at least 3 years earlier.[17]
  • As a person dies, his or her hearing is the last sense to go.[17]
  • Sharks kill about 12 people a year. People kill about 11, 417 sharks—an hour.[16]
  • In Ethiopia, a child is 30 times more likely to die by his or her 5th birthday than a child in Western Europe.[22]
  • Lack of physical exercise is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths worldwide.[11]
  • Air pollution kills over 7 million people per year.[1]
  • Vending machines kill about 13 people a year.[26]
  • It is estimated that the number of people killed in wars throughout all of history is between 150 million and 1 billion.[24]
  • During WW II, about 80% of all Soviet males that were born in 1923 died.[24]
  • In 1900, the lifespan in America was an average of 47 years, in 1950 it was 68, and in 2000 it was 77 years.[17]
  • Every minute, 300 million cells die in the human body.[17]
  • Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.

    - Norman Cousins

  • Hair and nails do not grow after death. They appear to grow as soft tissues of the fingers and scalp dry out and shrink from fingernails and hair roots[17]
  • After death, all the muscles of the body relax. This leads to dilated pupils, eyes that are slightly open, and a slack jaw (it takes muscle activity to close the eyelids and the mouth). For a funeral, a mortuary may place plastic caps under the eyelids to avoid a sunken look and to keep them closed. They will also often wire the jaw shut.[17]
  • Scientists at Southampton University have found evidence that awareness can continue for at least a few minutes after clinical death.[13]
  • Livor mortis (Latin livor, “bluish color,” + mortis “of death”) occurs when heavy red blood cells pool in the lower parts of the body, causing purples splotches. After about 8 hours after death, the purplish patterns will not change, even if the body is moved.[17]
  • Once the heart stops beating, the body experiences algor mortis, or “the death chill.” As the blood cools, it becomes more acidic as carbon dioxide builds. This process causes cells to split open, which empties tissue-eating enzymes into the body.[18]
  • There are over 200 bodies on Mount Everest. Their bodies are so well preserved that they are used as trail markers.[19]
  • Interesting Mt Everest Fact
    Known as "Green Boots," the body is a well-known Everest trail marker (Maxwelljo40 / Creative Commons)

  • Rigor mortis is Latin for “stiffness of death” and usually sets in about 3-4 hours after death and peaks at 12 hours. The body begins pliable again after 1-5 days after death, during which time a mortician will begin to stage the body for presentation for a funeral.[18]
  • In 3-5 days after death, decay starts to create large blisters over a human body. If a body is not found until this date, it will not be presentable for viewing at a funeral. Additionally, during this later stage of death, bloody froth begins to leak from the nose and mouth.[18]
  • Two molecules have been associated with the smell associated with decaying animals: cadaverine and putrescine.[17]
  • Humans have more bacterial cells living on it and in it that the total number of cells belonging to its own tissues and organs. After death, defense mechanism break down, and bacteria start to multiply and eat the body.[18]
  • Scientists call insects that feed off decaying flesh necrophagous, meaning “dead” and “to eat.” Flies are usually the first insects to arrive at a dead body, mainly to ay their eggs on moist locations, such as the mouth, nose, eyes, anus, wounds, or the female reproductive tract.[17]
  • Halloween and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) are only two of the many traditional customs that celebrate death, mortality, and spirits.[17]
  • Peter Pan in Sir J.M’s novel of the same name declares, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.”[10]
  • Interesting Fact about Death
    It is estimated that about 100 billion people have died since Homo sapiens appeared over 200,000 years ago.
  • It is estimated that about 100 billion people have died since Homo sapiens appeared over 200,000 years ago.[17]
  • The belief in metempsychosis is the belief that at death, the soul passes into another body.[17]
  • Instead of viewing death as a type failure, many ancient peoples, such as the ancient Egyptians, believed death was one of life’s many passages.[17]
  • The last words of Thomas Edison were “It is very beautiful over there.”[21]
  • Nearly 99% of all species that have lived in the course of history have vanished from the planet because of numerous climate upheavals and other events.[7]
  • According to WHO, the leading causes of death worldwide are ischaemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections, and chronic obstructive lung disease. Other leading causes of death are HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases and, diabetes mellitus.[25]
  • More people die from selfies than from shark attacks.[16]
  • The circle Enso is one of the most important symbols in Zen Buddhism. It is one of the many images of the duality between life and death and the fullness of existence.[17]
  • Natural deaths spike on Christmas, the day after Christmas, and on New Years. Researchers believe junior staffing at hospitals and the tendency for people to delay treatment are the main reasons for the increase. However, suicides and homicide rates decrease during the holidays.[4]
  • In his landmark work Civilizations and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud states that civilizations are ruled by two opposing kinds of impulses, Eros (the drive for desire and love), and Thanatos (the drive towards destruction and death.”[5]
  • Vampires, werewolves, zombies and other creatures from the grave reflect the unease human beings have about death.[17]
  • Researchers show that those who consume fewer calories (as long as they do not have nutritional deficiencies” live longer than those who eat larger quantities of food.[2]
  • It is estimated that malaria has been responsible for half of the deaths of everyone who has ever lived.[8]
  • Interesting Malaria Fact
    Malaria was eliminated from the United States in the early 1950’s

  • On average, 21 people in the United States die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant.[9]
  • During human stampede deaths, such as those that occurred at Mecca, more people die of compressive asphyxia than by trampling. People can also suffer cardiac arrest if they faint standing up and there is nowhere to fall.[20]
  • Since the AIDS pandemic began in 1985, over 22,000,000 million people have died from the disease. HIV infects more than 36,00,000 people globally, so the death toll is expected to increase.[11]
  • In 1918, the flu virus killed between 21,000,000-50,00,000 people around the year, making it the deadliest virus in human history.[8]
  • Between 1347-1352 the bubonic plague killed about 75,00,000 million worldwide, including 1/3 of the entire population of Europe.[8]
  • Every year, car accidents kill 1.2 million people worldwide, in addition to 140,000 injured and 15,000 who will be handicapped for life.[11]
  • Hanging is the preferred means of suicide in most parts of the world.[25]
  • The United States has more than 5 times the number of gun deaths than all of the Western European nations.[12]
  • If the United States were in the Middle East, it would have the second highest rate of gun deaths, more than Libya, Egypt, Sudan, and Israel combined. Only Iraq has a higher level of non-conflict-related gun deaths.[12]
  • Weird Death Fact
    Everyday, about 29,000 children die due to poverty.
  • Everyday, about 29,000 children--or 21 children a minute--die due to poverty.[22]
  • In 2013, a falling cow killed a 45-year-old Brazilian man. The cow had been grazing on the man’s corrugated roof when the roof buckled. Both the man’s wife, who was lying beside him, and the cow, were unharmed.[23]
  • Assisted suicide or physician aid in dying (PAD) is legal in Washington, Oregon, California, Vermont, and Montana.[4][14]
  • The deadliest battle in history is thought to be The Battle of Stalingrad (1942-1943) between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Total casualties totaled 1,971,000.[24]
  • Approximately 830 women die each day from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications around the world. Most of these deaths occur in developing countries and most could have been prevented.[15]

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