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Death Bed

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Once upon a time, a certain doctor in a faraway country carried out an experiment. The doctor specially rigged the beds of terminal patients, in an attempt to measure any difference in body weight at the exact moment of death.

The doctor believed that if a spirit or soul existed then it must have mass and therefore weight. If that was true then at the very moment of death, the corpse on the bed would have to become lighter as the spirit left the body.

Just as many doctors test new treatment on animals before using them on humans, so too did this doctor perform his experiments on rats and rabbits, and sometimes dog and cats, before he tried them on human subjects. Of course he did not wait for these animals to die of natural causes.

He killed them by injecting a potent poison into their bodies. He carried out nearly fifty of his animal experiments. However he did not get the results he expected. He came to the conclusion that animals do not have souls like humans, or that the souls were so small that his experiment could not effectively measure the weight loss.

The doctor concluded that he needed to use humans and he commenced his experiments. His first subject was an old woman, eighty years of age, with no living relatives. Given a bleak outlook for her survival the old woman was laid on the bed with the doctor’s special scale. The doctor instructed his assistant and nurses that they were in no way try to extend the woman’s life

The doctor predicted that the women had one day or two at the most, before she would pass away, but three days four days, a week passed but she did not die. On the contrary she seemed to be getting better a little bit at the time.

The doctor, irritated, wondered how long she planned on living. The next morning, when the doctor’s assistant reported for work, the doctor greeted him with a smile on his face. It seemed that the old woman, who had appeared to be making a recovery, passed away late in the night, after the nurses and assistant had gone home. The only one in the office was the doctor who had not left the woman’s side.

Over the course of the next several years, the doctor performed his experiments on dozens of patients. Besides a very small number of expectations, most of the people showed a clear decrease in body weight. The doctor found something else, even more interesting.

The decrease in weight at the exact moment of death varied. The smallest he measured was 5 grams; the average was 10 grams; there were some who lost over 20 grams; and even a few who lost nearly 30 grams. The loss in weight was unrelated to the physical body weight of the person in life. What then, did it mean?

After much speculation the doctor came to his conclusion: the more regrets or attachments the person had in life, the greater there loss in weight at death.

  • A mother who left a young child behind.
  • A man who died with a deep hatred towards another person.
  • A young person who had decided to devote his life to music, but died before he could make it big.
  • A husband poisoned to death by his wife to get money.
  • A man falsely accused of a crime that died while trying to prove his innocence.
  • A wife who was beaten daily and finally killed by her husband.

But the thing is, most of the patients died when the nurses or assistant were not around and each time the assistant noticed a little bit of the poison had less each time a person had died.

The assistant was sure that the doctor was killing them.

But no one knows whether or not the assistant had told the doctor he knew what was going on, for several days later, the assistant himself passed away on that special bed. 'The cause of death was said to be a heart attack. At the moment of his death, the assistant’s weight dropped by 168 grams. It was a new record for the doctor.

And thus the experiments carried on for several more years, until the doctor contracted a mental illness and passed away. There is no record of the amount of weight that he lost at the moment of death.


This story is inspired by Ju-on, the novel by Key Ohishi.

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