HOW STUFF WORKS
QUIZZES

FOLLOW US
The Ultimate Death Quiz
by Staff
The Grim Reaper is a personification of death that has been invented and refined over the years to help humans make sense of their own mortality. How much do you know about your own mortality? You can't cheat death, and you can't cheat on this quiz about death, either. So sharpen your scythe and get started.

What causes a death rattle?

  • fluid built up in the lungs
  • erratic heartbeat
  • the kidneys shutting down

Which of the following is not one of the top five causes of death in high-income countries?

  • stroke
  • lung cancer
  • HIV/AIDS

How long can the brain survive after the heart stops beating?

  • 30 seconds to one minute
  • Three to seven minutes
  • 10 minutes

Do hair and fingernails continue to grow after death?

  • Yes; tissue from hair and fingernails is indestructible.
  • Yes; any oxygen in the room spurs fingernail and hair growth.
  • No; it only looks that way because skin shrivels up.

Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross defined grief as a progression through five distinct stages. What's the correct order for these stages?

  • Anger, bargaining, anger, bargaining, acceptance
  • Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance
  • Anger, bargaining, depression, denial, elation

What is algor mortis?

  • the stage right before a person dies
  • stiffening of the body after death
  • cooling of the body after death

What is Balfour's test?

  • a specific series of procedures that ascertain brain death
  • an 18th-century means of determining death
  • a way to check if cardiopulmonary resuscitation was effective

Which medical school wrote the standard definition of death in 1968?

  • Johns Hopkins
  • Duke
  • Harvard

Who portrayed Death in Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal"?

  • Bengt Ekerot
  • Max von Sydow
  • Gunnar Olsson

How many people perished during the Black Death?

  • 25 million
  • 50 million
  • 250 million