Can you die of a broken heart?

I guess it’s quite a deep topic. A few days ago I read the paper and saw an article about a woman that was married to her husband for over 70 years. He was her high school sweet heart and until the day he died they were un-separable. He was 93 years old when he died and then a few days later (3 days after) she also passed away.  As I read this article the inquisitive part of me came to life and I started to ask so many questions came to mind.

The first one was about their love. I looked at the 2012 statistics for England and wales and it showed

There were 13 divorces an hour in England and Wales in 2012
• Women were granted 65% of all divorces
• 9,703 men and 6,026 women aged over 60 got divorced
• One in seven divorces were granted as a result of adultery
• 719 (less than 1%) divorces were granted because of desertion
• The average age at divorce was 45 for men and 42 for women
• 9% of couples divorcing had both been divorced before
• 48% of couples divorcing had at least one child aged under 16 living with the family
• It is expected that 42% of marriages will end in divorce.

In the USA about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.

How did they manage this feat? How did they stay in love for so long? Did they worry about the same things our present generation do? Did they ever fall out of love and needed or worked on falling back into love? What about commitment? We know that love and commitment are not the same thing so how did they manage this? What was their story?

You see, I wondered these things because I was recently married. I loved my wife and we had been blessed with kids but both my wife and I were from broken homes. Both our parents were separated. In my case they were married for over 20 years before the separation. I was curious and afraid because I wondered if it could happen to me.  I just wanted to learn from their mistakes if possible and gain from the now deceased couples experience if applicable.

As I researched couples another question came into my mind and this question is the reason for me writing just now. It was a questioned that appealed to the hopeless romantic in me. Did she die because it was her time to go or did she die from a broken heart?

You see the thing is if it was a one off story then I guess it would be more likely she did for any number of reasons besides a broken heart.  Now let me ask you a question, Is this the first time you have ever heard or read such a story? Is this the first time you read a story about true love and the second half dying shortly after the first?

 

According to Dr. Holly S. Andersen, “The answer is yes. A traumatic breakup, an extreme argument or experiencing the death of a loved one can elicit the release of stress hormones that can trigger a heart attack in people prone to them, induce a life-threatening arrhythmia or cause a syndrome that mimics a heart attack in otherwise healthy hearts.”

Another notable quote is from Shauna Springer: “One hallmark of couples who have passed into the ‘soul mate’ phase of their marriage is that they continually bless and inspire others through the way they treat each other and those around them. Another hallmark is the ‘widower’ effect – when two people become one, it is often the case that the death of one is closely followed by the death of the other. This isn’t merely romantic nonsense propagated by Hollywood movie-makers – this actually happens with notable frequency for closely-bonded pairs.
Source: Shauna Springer, Ph.D. “Soul Mates Do Exist – Just not in the way we usually think…” PsychologyToday.com. 7/28/2012.

I am a big believer of research and in it comes as no great surprise that two people can form a bond so strong that when one dies the other could lose the will to live.

Separate studies involving thousands of couples in Scotland and Israel concluded that the risk of death among widows and widowers surges anywhere from 30 to 50 percent during the first six months after their beloveds pass [source:Dahlstrom]. After that initial period of bereavement, the statistical risk of death diminishes [source:Martikainen and Valkonen]. (See hyperlinks if you chose to read more)

One of the most prominent cases is that of Minnesota couple Clifford and Eva Vevea who were ‘hopelessly in love’ for 65 years of their marriage, died within hours of each other.

No matter what people say to you or tell you it is possible to die from a broken heart but that does not mean that you cannot chose to live.  A way to understand or think clearly is to ask one simple question. What would my other half have wanted from me? If they truly loved you (and I guess they probably did) then the answer would inevitably be that they wanted you to live. Another thing to bear in mind is that most studies looked at people aged over 50 years old so it is not clear if this applies to younger people. Now I have to take a stance at this point and be clear on the fact that I am not saying that it doesn’t apply to younger people. I m just saying that there aren’t enough studies to conclude that it does.

My post has to do with true love. Not someone leaving you, not the normal day to day part of dating but the real deal. The type people sometimes spend their entire life looking for.

I am writing this just in-case there is anyone out there that has just lost someone they loved, their soul-mate. I want you to know that what you feel is true, it real and it is possible to still live for those you have left. I do not write this because of experience but because in some cases just knowing that you are not insane helps. Cry out to the people around you because you can die of a broken heart.

 

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