My cold, dead fingers...(for the medicos)

I have only touched recently dead people a few times (my father, who died on the commode and I found him ~12-14 hours later) and two friends who died of AIDS and for whom I was summoned to the hospital and got there before they were removed (I’ve seen people die much closer, but that’s another thread). In those cases, both had been suffering illness for ~2 years but had been dead only ~1 hour before I met w/their corpses. I had some previous experiences w/corpses and funeral homes, but those involved the embalmed corpses.

My question: why are the recently (unmodified by embalming) dead SO cold? Why don’t they just return to room temperature? Maybe it is a psychological thing, but I don’t think so; it seems to me that recently deceased are truly cooler than the surrounding environment. Comments, medicos?

Isn’t it that the body has gone to room temperature and is no longer at the 37.5 degrees that you are and so feel cold to the touch?

Dead people do not get colder than room temperature. It seems like they do because your mind insists those fingers should be warm. When you touch the hand of a dead loved one, it’s shocking to feel how cold they are-- it’s tactile proof that the person really is gone. To make the experience more horrifying, the flesh of a dead person feels strange, almost waxy.

With dying patients, I can estimate how soon death will occur by the temperature and color of the extremities. As the heart fails, the peripheral circulation constricts, trying to shunt blood to oxygen-depreived organs. The hands, feet, ears, and nose become increasingly cooler and turn pale, then gray. You can watch this mottled, ashy gray color spread up the feet to the knees. In cases like this the hands and feet are as cold as if death has already occurred.

When death is sudden the extremities don’t have time to turn cold before death but once death occurs they begin to cool surprisingly quickly.

I’m sorry about your dad, beatle. I can’t imagine how awful that was for you.

I remember touching muy grandfather at his funeral. He felt like cold clay. Anyway i suppose if you had a jar of water out, and let it get to room temperature, it would probably feel as cool as a dead body ( i know i’m morbid, but thats what happens when most of your family is involved in fire/rescue, paramedics, and police :)). Anyway room temperature air feels warm, but if you’ve ever been doused with room temperature water it feels quite cold.

A lot of sersory interpretation is relative, I once participated in an experiment involving touching several different temperature metal bars, the “medium” felt cold after handling the hot one, but warm after handling the cold bar, they said the change in temperature was the important piece of information that the brain used. Added to that would be our expectation that hands should be a certain temp, because 99.99% of the ones we’ve toughed were that way. I wonder if anyone that handles death on a regular basis would notice,

The hot/cold of when you feel something is determined by how fast the item takes the heat from your body.

In a room, everything is the same temperature, the desk, glasses, wood floor, but the metal feels colder because it takes heat from your body quicker.

The expectations angle makes sense. Many years ago I lost my brakes (completely) in traffic and at the moment of discovery I felt as if I was accelerating.