Turns out you can die of a broken heart, especially if you’re elderly and your longtime partner passes first, MSNBC reports. More studies are buttressing what had long been an anecdotal belief: that bereaved spouses face an increased risk of death within months of their partner passing. The leading cause of death in such cases is heart failure, but “I think it’s about connection,” said one doctor.
Grief may put additional stress on fragile, aging bodies. And some research suggests that one spouse’s heartbeat can regulate the other’s, acting as a sort of life support. “When people are in a relationship for 20, 30, 40, 50 years, they create sort of a co-energetic resonance with each other,” another doc said. “What happens when one goes away?”