31 Weird and Wonderful Facts On Death, Grieving and Funerals Every Funeral Professional Should Know

Death is by far life’s greatest mystery.

It invokes in us a curiosity that is unmatched. That’s why some of the greatest writers, poets, scientists and philosophers of the world spend their life studying the topic of death.

We have an equally big passion for learning about death and all the topics surrounding it, such as grief, the body, rituals, healing, funeral practices and everything in between.

In all of our years of research, you can imagine there are a lot of awesome, random, and sometimes downright crazy pieces of information that pass through our desks.

We’ve put together a collection of 31 strange and wonderful facts on death and all the topics surrounding it, and we’re here to share them with you today. Consider this your brain food of the day!

Check them out below:

1. One million seconds is 11 days. One billion seconds is 33 years. So the average human life is around 2.5 billion seconds long.

2. Approximately 150,000 people die each day around the world.

3. Every year, about 8 out of every 1,000 people die, according to the Population Reference Bureau and the CIA’s World Factbook.

4. The current world population represents only 7% of the total of anatomically modern human beings who have ever lived (which is an estimated 108 billion people).

5. Every minute, 300 million cells die in the human body.

6. More people die from selfies than from shark attacks. Take that social media.

7. Natural deaths spike on Christmas, the day after Christmas, and on New Year’s Day. 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.

8. Mistakes on a doctor’s note, mainly due to messy handwriting, kill over 7,000 people in the U.S. each year.

9. Instead of viewing death as a type of failure, many ancient people, such as the ancient Egyptians, believed death was one of life’s many passages.

10. The last words of Thomas Edison were “It is very beautiful over there.”

11. The belief in metempsychosis is the belief that at death, the soul passes into another body.

12. Scientists at Southampton University have found evidence that awareness can continue for at least a few minutes after clinical death.

13. In case you were wondering, a cubic inch of bone is about four times as strong as concrete.

14. Just three days after dying, the enzymes that help break down a person’s food begin to eat that person’s body.

15. The body of spiritual teacher and guru Paramahansa Yogananda, who died on March 7, 1952, remained “in a phenomenal state of immutability.”  Mr. Harry T. Rowe, Mortuary Director of Forest Lawn Memorial-Park Association, tells “the whole amazing story” in a notarized three-page letter that is reproduced in full in this issue of Self-Realization Magazine.  Extracts from the letter can be found here.

16. There are over 200 bodies on Mount Everest. Their bodies are so well preserved that they are used as trail markers, such as the one below, referred to as “Green Boots”.

17. Peter Pan in Sir J.M’s novel of the same name declares, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.”

18. Throughout early modern times, and up until at least the mid 19th century, it was a common belief that the touch of a murderer – executed by hanging – could cure all kinds of illnesses, ranging from cancer and goitres to skin conditions. Afflicted persons would attend executions hoping to receive the “death stroke” of the executed prisoner.

19. In Cotard’s syndrome, living people believe themselves to be dead.

20. There are animals that don’t die, or at least don’t die from old age, including a jellyfish and a kind of flatworm.

21.Near-death experiences” seem to be caused by dopamine and oxygen deprivation.

22. Animals such as dolphins and elephants grieve the loss of a pack member and recognize it via elaborate memorial rituals.

23. In the Victorian age, widows were expected — at their own social peril — to don only black clothing for a year following the death of a spouse. After the anniversary passed they could wear only dark colors for the rest of their lives. In addition, mourners were forbidden to go to any sort of social gathering for many months and laughter was taboo.

24. In some green burial methods, you skip the embalming processes and get biodegradable, woven-willow caskets, which decompose into the ground.

25. Among the Dani People of Papua New Guinea, the death of a loved one meant that any women and children related to the deceased had to cut off some of their fingers. This was done to drive away spirits, and is now banned.

26. Hidden high up along mountainsides and in difficult to reach places. The people of Sagada in the Philippines believed that the closer a coffin was to the sky, the closer the deceased was to heaven.

27. The Philippines also has the “Tinguian Funeral,” where “people dress the dead in their finest clothes, sit them in a chair, and give them a smoke. There the dead sit smoking for several weeks.”

28. In Madagascar there’s Famadihana, where “people dig up their dead every 5-7 years to take care of them. They re-wrap the dead, perfume them, dance with them, and share stories.”

29. There’s a similar practice in Mongolia called “Air Sacrifice”: “The family lays the body out in the open and makes an outline of it with stones. Then they allow hungry dogs and birds to devour the corpse, leaving only the outline — a representation of its spirit.”

30. In the old days, the Melanesians of Papua New Guinea and the Wari people of Brazil would eat the dead in order to expel the fear and mystery that surrounds the concept of death. The Yanomami people also practice this.

31. Having a well-attended funeral is a subject of great concern in Taiwan. To attract a crowd, some families hire strippers, host dances, and set out elaborate feasts to entice people to attend. Talk about a celebration of life!

 

That’s all the crazy, weird and wonderful facts we could gather today. Let us know if you have any to share in the comments below!

 

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