Once death occurs, any constricted muscles immediately relax — and the bowel muscles are no exception, explains the Cleveland Clinic. As a result, stool may be released from the body. But exactly how much stool can we expect to be discharged? Jeff Jorgenson, director of Seattle-based funeral home Elemental Cremation and Burial, told Women’s Health that it won’t be an excessive amount of poop. Rather, it’s more likely to take the form of leakage.
After the muscles relax, a person begins to enter rigor mortis, in which the opposite occurs. The muscles start to stiffen due to the lack of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) being produced in the body. ATP helps prompt our muscles to relax, but without it, our muscles tense up and remain solid. The onset of rigor mortis takes place within a matter of hours following death and can take up to 12 hours to affect the larger muscles. Within days, as body tissue decays, the hardened muscles will return to a relaxed state.