Throughout the world, death and the rituals that surround it are steeped in taboos.
Death is celebrated, embraced and feared.
Around death and the dead, cultures put in place diverse restrictions and practices associated with clothing, food and ritual.
These webpages explore what happens to us when we die and the different ways we deal with death.
Death is certain
ce it is in
evitable, but also uncertain
ce its diagnosis is sometimes fallible.
low, Danish Anatomist: Morte in
certae signa, 1740
In Australia today, many people find being in the presence of death frightening and unwelcome. Death is often hidden, sanitised and orderly. The Australian Museum has developed this website to accompany an exhibition designed to help explore some of the taboos surrounding death and explain what happens to our bodies when we die.
Death begins when the heart stops beating. Deprived of oxygen, a cascade of cellular death commences, beginning with brain cells and ending with skin cells. Death is a process rather than an event. Specifying the moment of death usually involves deciding on a point from which there can be no return.
In most Australian states, the current law describes death as:
r irreversible cessation of circulation of blood in the
body of the
person or irreversible cessation of all function of the
While our current definition is based on extensive medical knowledge, history suggests that any definition is far from permanent.
Signs of death
What happens after death?
Disposing of the dead
Remembering the dead
Follow a human autopsy process from start to finish including an external examination, opening the body, viewing internal organs, removing the organs and weighing them, removing the brain, replacing all organs and closing the body.
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