When someone dies, what happens to the body?

When someone dies, what happens to the body?

Upwards of 2.8 million people die every year in the United States. As a funeral director who heads a university mortuary science program, I can tell you that while each individual’s life experiences are unique, what happens to a body after death follows a broadly predictable chain of events.

When someone dies, what happens to the body? Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images – The Conversation

In general, it depends on three things: where you die, how you die and what you or your family decide on for funeral arrangements and final disposition.

In death’s immediate aftermath

Death can happen anywhere: at home; in a hospital, nursing or palliative care facility; or at the scene of an accident, homicide or suicide.

A medical examiner or coroner must investigate whenever a person dies unexpectedly while not under a doctor’s care. Based on the circumstances of the death, they determine whether an autopsy is needed. If…

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