Question: Soon after my grandfather died in a car accident, my grandmother died of a heart attack. They had been happily married for 47 years. Is there any truth to the idea that she died of a “broken heart”?
Answer: Several scientific studies have suggested that fear, anger, and grief may precipitate heart attacks in susceptible people. Loss of a loved one and the accompanying sense of loneliness and alienation can generate intense physiological changes that strain the heart.
One of the earliest reports, published in the 1950s by Dr. Walter Cannon, found that being disconnected from loved ones could precipitate high levels of stress hormones, elevated blood pressure, reduced appetite, irregular heart beats, and cardiovascular collapse.
Other reports suggest that providing compassionate, loving support to people who have had a recent loss can reduce the risks of serious health problems. Just a daily phone call can help people transition through tough times. Your recent losses can remind us all to reach out to people who are grieving, knowing that our loving attention can be lifesaving.
If you are struggling with grief, loss, and unresolved pain, the Free to Love workshop will help you heal. Led by David Simon in the compassionate, loving setting of the Chopra Center, this intensive weekend workshop will help you reach deep levels of release and healing in just a few days. Learn more about the Free to Love workshop here.