Health Professionals Weigh In On Whether Or Not It Is Possible To Die Of A Broken Heart

In the wake of former president George H.W. Bush's death, many have wondered if he died from a broken heart.

George H.W. and Barbara Bush Point at The Camera.
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In the wake of former president George H.W. Bush's death, many have wondered if he died from a broken heart.

Today, many are in mourning, following the death of former president George H.W. Bush’s death at 94-years-old. The 41st president took his final breath less than a year after losing his beloved wife, Barbara, at 92-years-old back in April. Now, many are wondering if the president died due to a broken heart, according to Today.

The former president was laid to rest on Wednesday at a funeral attended by many at the Washington National Cathedral. During a touching eulogy for his father, former president George W. Bush spoke of his father’s heartbreak following his mother’s death. The elder Bush was crushed after losing his wife who was the love of his life and wanted nothing more than to be reunited with her again.

“Dad is… holding mom’s hand again,” George W. Bush said, as he assured loved ones that his father had found peace in heaven.

The late president spoke to his granddaughter, Barbara, prior to his death, about the pain he felt after his wife’s passing. He wondered how he would ever endure life without her and wondered if more pain was yet to come.

“I asked him if his heart was broken and he said yes. And then he looked at me and he said, ‘Do you think it’ll feel worse than this?’ And it just really got me,” she told Today.

“I mean, of course, his heart was broken. He had lost the love of his life.”

It’s actually quite common for spouses to die within a short amount of time from one another, and for years, health experts have been trying to understand why. A study published in 2013 in the Journal of Nursing Research showed that losing a spouse is often associated with the risk of death in older individuals. It is believed that such a loss can lead to depression, and even take away the surviving loved one’s will to live. It is likely the extreme stress that such a death would cause someone that would wreak havoc on the mind and body, putting them at a greater risk of death. This phenomenon is often called “broken heart syndrome.”

Doctors call deaths of this nature tragic because such instances are often avoidable. Dr. Gary Small of the University of California, Los Angeles encourages widows to seek counsel after experiencing such heartbreaking loss.

“Those feelings of devastation will change over time and we need to help people get through widowhood because there may be another chapter in that person’s life that will also be meaningful,” he said.