“3 Steps to a Stunning Corpse,” Jacob Bentzen

Mar 16th, 2022 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

If you care about your image, dying should scare you to death. For years, the final moment of our lives has been glorified as some serene, almost beautiful process: we die peacefully then cut-scene and bam—tux, flowers, funeral. Nothing in-between.

But the truth is that no matter how well we die, death is ugly. It’s messy, smells horrendous; it disfigures, convulses, bloats, and absolutely ruins the image you worked your whole life to perfect, and all of this happens during or immediately after your death, before the funeral. This means it could be the second-to-last thing your loved ones (or worse, your enemies) see before your name is etched in stone.

Take William the Conqueror, for example. He died in the year 1087: reigned as King of England for over twenty years, he was royalty, a war-hero, rich—everything you would want to be in 11th century England. Little did he know, death would stain his glorious image forever. When his subjects tried to squeeze his bloated corpse into the funeral-casket there was so much gas inside his body that it literally exploded.

And exploding guts is not a good look. In fact, most of our biological reactions to death are categorically uncool. But what if we could remedy that? If we considered death like any other social event—full of do’s and don’ts—and all you need is a little guidance. What if you could be a legendary corpse instead of an embarrassment; an icon of class, of post-mortem style and grace, as opposed to a rotting pile of shame?

Well, look no further. Here are three easy steps to leaving a stunning corpse.

Step 1: An Early but Grave Faux Pas

Let’s deal with the biggest blunder first: pooping your pants. When we die, it’s because the biological functions that sustain us cease to work, and the process is similar to a fire: we’re wholly dependent on a continuous absorption of fuel to burn—and when it’s denied us, we revert to dust. Our tissue, muscle, organs, they’re all filled with energy and we spend it constantly. As the blood that carries this energy stops flowing, our muscles go limp, including one we wish didn’t: the anal sphincter.

We shit the bed, literally. How embarrassing! Your loved ones might be there, watching and smelling as you soil the cloth. This happens to everyone, even the pope, and you can bet the Vatican has a guide like this one to keep his holiness holy (maybe not exactly like this one, but the goal is the same). Luckily, the remedy is just a tiny, teensy surgical operation which gives you a golden opportunity to shower your wardrobe with more accessories. That’s right, we’re talking colostomy. Pity your friends in their Gucci bikini or shorts because that’s all they’ve got.

“The best things in life are free. The second best are very expensive.” — Coco Chanel

You, on the other hand, can wear that and a luxury ostomy belt. A company in America called Stealth Belt makes a range of superb, high-quality belts at around £99 apiece, but their customisation option is what you really want to explore. It lets you step up your game, really pimp your colon. Add zippers, colours, pockets (hello, ladies), and tasteful patterns aligned with whichever fashion theme is in season.

Take it to the next level. Show everyone that you truly have your shit together. When the time comes, your coroner will simply remove the bag like any other piece of clothing—no smell, no mess, no embarrassment.


Step 2: One Last Song

In life, your voice might have been the marble brick in your wall of pride. ‘I could have made it,’ you told yourself. ‘Made it big.’ Never mind the nonbelievers. Had a producer been present for just one of your Coldplay or Beyoncé covers in the shower, they would have signed you on the spot. Or maybe you were completely tone-deaf, and your voice was the last thing in the world you wanted to be remembered by. But now you’re dead and so is your voice.

Or is it?

Our windpipes are made from long, medium-hard muscle and when they stop working, the trachea collapses. No air goes in or out. Any oxygen left in your lungs will be trapped there like a flesh-balloon and if pressure is applied to your chest, that air comes out and sings the song of death: the deep, lazy moan of a zombie.

Fortunately, it gets better. Sorry, worse—it gets worse. When your body goes stiff, the gases produced by the decomposition will also be trapped until the muscles relax and when they do, we might experience a toddler’s idea of the ultimate comedy: farting through both holes simultaneously.

For a respectable adult and/or influencer, it’s appalling. If you die in a hospital, your body will be moved to a cold room to slow the decomposition and minimise gas, but if you are unfortunate enough to meet your end alone, try exhaling or placing a medium-heavy object on your chest. For more tips and tricks on death-positions and why they’re important, read on.

Step 3: A Bloody Affair

When our song ends, the heart stops its beat. That means the blood stops circulating and gravity takes over, which will obviously mess with your complexion, but that’s the least of your worries. After all, we’re not attempting to look alive but beautifully dead. The red blood cells will die regardless of what you do, so paleness is natural and unavoidable.

The real danger is dying in an awkward position where the blood sinks and destroys your natural curves and colours, and that’s why the iron rule on positioning yourself is to lie as level as you can, and always face up. That way, the blood will sink evenly and slowly. Never, under any circumstances, die face down with your head as the lowest centre of gravity—unless you want to look like an angry cartoon character. Luckily, most people die in bed. And now you’re thinking ‘great, next question,’ but what of the minority? You see, the bulk of those who don’t die in beds, die on the can. Worst case scenario, right? Wrong.

As if dying with your trousers down and a gift in the bowl wasn’t bad enough, there’s an even worse worst-case scenario for men. Consider this: what is the male genitalia filled with, when erect? That’s right. Blood. What did we establish happens to our blood when we die? Correct again, it becomes victim to gravity. And for the million-dollar prize, what happens to our muscles a few hours after we die? Ding, ding, ding!

They stiffen.

So, imagine some poor girl goes to visit dear old grandpa. She enters the house, but something’s wrong. It reeks. A foul, sickly-sweet odour, as if someone dumped a truckload of poop and syrup on the floor. She calls for grandpa, but no one answers. Tries his cell, no answer. She takes a deep breath and, holding her nose, she darts through the musty living room and down the hall while checking all the rooms, taking extra care this time not to knock grandma’s ashes from the dresser. She reaches the bathroom door, but she can’t hold her breath much longer, so she grabs the door handle and rips it open.

There sits poor, decomposing grandpa with a thundering erection that remained after his death through a combination of rigor mortis and sinking blood.

We’re talking thousands of hours in therapy.

The good news is that, while this could happen, it’s unlikely. The real reason so many die on the toilet is because terminal events like blood clots in the lungs or major heart attacks often simulate the need for number two. Ironically, an early sign of heart disease is erectile dysfunction—and because Viagra lowers your blood pressure, it could potentially double up as a heart drug in the future. But until then, try not to die on the can.

Afterthought: Dying Saves Lives

Looks are important, but true beauty comes from the inside and by inside, we mean organs. According to the W.H.O, approximately 38.000 deceased people donated their organs worldwide in 2017. By bequeathing your inner beauty you could save eight lives by giving away the heart, kidney, lungs, liver, pancreas, and intestines, and you can donate your eyes as late as 20 hours after death (they only take the outer layer). If you add your bones, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue, skin, corneas, sclera, heart valves, and vessels you can save or change up to 75(!) lives.

That means you are guaranteed at least 75 likes on social media when that post goes live on your R.I.P page. If your country operates with a donor registry (called opt-in), sign up and get a card, and if it uses an opt-out system where your consent is presumed, do it anyway. Get the card and post it on social media to show everyone what an amazing person you are, even in death. Unfortunately, there are too few donors in the world. In 2018, 20 people died every day waiting for a transplant in the US, and in the UK over 400 patients on the waiting list died the year after. In 2017-18, Spain had nearly twice the number of donors compared to the UK. In America, 95% support organ donation but only 58% are registered donors.

This is your chance to improve those numbers.

“The future depends on what you do today.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Where the other steps focus on your appearance, this part is about connecting your looks to your image, your brand. It’s the stage that deepens your character and ties it to something more, and that’s essential if you want to retain even a smidgeon of class. It’s vital to your reputation, paramount to your legend. If there’s one step you absolutely must follow for post-mortem style and beauty, it should be the one about not pooping your pants.

But donating your organs should come in as a close second.


Jacob is a Viking from Norway who came to the UK a few years ago seeking to pillage monasteries for gold publish his writing. Since then, he has seen a ton of gold! Mostly leaving his account to pay for writing studies, but still. Jacob likes coconuts and gold (ideally a golden coconut) and spends most of his time at the beach, throwing rocks at the receding tide and warning it never to return.

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