17 Facts about Death and Dying

There are a lot of things about death that dont get talked about much; the topic is often dumped when it comes up in conversation.

We pause and wonder in silence. As Woody Allen said: “I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Heres a few bits of trivia to throw out in those moments.

1. The practice of burying the dead, also called internment, dates back as far as 130,000 years based on skeletal remains found in caves at Qafzeh, Israel. It just might be one of the earliest detectable forms of religious practice.

2. The US government does not classify “old age” to be a cause of death although dying of old age is common. Why? Whether organs wear out, or disease processes become unmanageable there always are specific reasons for a person’s death. The International Classification of Diseases, (ICD-10), does list “senescence” a medical euphemism for old age, as a cause of death.

3. There are over 200 euphemisms for death in the English language. With all of the sayings floating around the issue of death, you would think that it would be a common, well understood condition. Not so much. Some favorites are: bought the farm (this supposedly comes from the G.I. Insurance Policy, because the amount of money the next of kin would receive was enough to buy a farm), checked out, bit the big one, kicked the bucket, bitten the dust, popped their clogs, pegged it, carked it, turned their toes up, and assumed room temperature (popular among mortuary technicians).

4. The one common cause in all incidents of death is lack of oxygen.

5. After death the decaying process involves the enzymes that once digested your meals, will then begin to digest the tissues of your body. This digestion begins within 3 days of death.

6. The average burial in the U.S. puts approximately 827.060 gallons of embalming fluid into the soil. Embalming fluid contains formaldehyde, methanol, and ethanol.

7. Cremations are not much better when it comes to polluting the earth. It has been estimated that crematoria use the equivalent of 50 litres of oil to reduce a body to ash. Cremation puts harmful gasses into the air including dioxins, mercury vapour from dental fillings, hydrochloric acid, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Death can be harmful to our environment as a final insult to us.

8. As many as 80% of all U.S. deaths occur in hospitals despite the emergence of the popularity of dying at home through hospice and home healthcare.

9. In New York City, more people commit suicide than are murdered; news reports are filled with reports of deaths by murder.

10. One in 200,000 high school-age athletes die suddenly every year. Most deaths occur in football and basketball, and males are five times more likely to die than females. The usual cause is previously unsuspected cardiovascular disease. A twelve step screening process (nothing to do with AA, by the way) can detect risk for sudden death in athletes.

11. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome happens to seemingly healthy infants who suddenly die in their sleep. There is no known cause when autopsy is performed. Many causes have been proposed as a trigger for SIDS, but most are unproven or have not been rigorously studied.

12. Worldwide, around 26,500 children die every day, according to UNICEF. This adds up to almost 10 million children dying every year, or one every 3 seconds. Roughly half of these deaths are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

13. It not true that suicide rates are higher around the holiday season; actually the opposite is the case.

14. A human head stays conscious for 15 – 20 seconds after decapitation. A cockroach can live for up to 9 days without its head.

15. What do the following people have in common? Elvis Presley, Lenny Bruce, Orville Redenbacher, Robert Pastorelli and Jim Morrison- they all died in a bathroom.

16. The majority of people that die in fires dont die from burns, but rather from inhaling toxic gases such carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen cyanide that and the lack of oxygen.

17. A 2001 study of 344 patients who were resuscitated after heart failure in the Netherlands found that 18 percent of them had an out of body near death experience. But an analysis of their cases found no medical explanations, such as type of drug used to treat the patient, oxygen deprivation, duration of cardiac arrest or unconsciousness, or the patients’ reports of the degree to which they feared death before the incident.

Top Photo by Pascal