I was just reading something about the Donner Party that reminded me of this.
"After two more days without food, Patrick Dolan proposed that one of them should volunteer to die, to feed the others. Some suggested a duel, while another account describes an attempt to create a lottery to choose a member to sacrifice. Eddy suggested they keep moving until someone simply fell, but a blizzard forced the group to halt. Antonio, the animal handler, was the first to die; Franklin Graves was the next casualty.
As the blizzard progressed, Patrick Dolan began to rant deliriously, stripped off his clothes and ran into the woods. He returned shortly afterwards and died a few hours later. Not long after, possibly because 12-year-old Lemuel Murphy was near death, some of the group began to eat flesh from Dolan's body. Lemuel's sister tried to feed some to her brother, but he died shortly afterwards. Eddy, Salvador and Luis refused to eat. The next morning the group stripped the muscle and organs from the bodies of Antonio, Dolan, Graves, and Murphy and dried it to store for the days ahead, taking care to ensure that nobody would have to eat his or her relatives."
This is so sad and terrifying and fascinating and shiver-inducing that all I can think to do is retreat into poetry, but the first poem that comes to mind is Emily Dickinson's 341--"After great pain, a formal feeling comes--" where she describes how "Freezing persons, recollect the Snow -- / First -- Chill -- then Stupor -- then the letting go --"
"Nearly all bodies with partial or complete disrobement were found in a position which indicated a final mechanism of protection i.e. under a bed, behind a wardrobe, in a shelf etc.. This is obviously an autonomous process of the brain stem, which is triggered in the final state of hypothermia and produces a primitive and burrowing-like behaviour of protection, as seen in (hibernating) animals. This phenomenon, which we refer to as 'terminal burrowing behaviour', occurred predominantly with slow decreases in temperature and moderately cold conditions."