GREENVILLE, SC– Can you die from a broken heart?
This question is being raised following the death of actress Debbie Reynolds, just one day after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher.
The American Heart Association calls it “Broken Heart Syndrome” or stress-induced cardiomyopathy. While it’s very rare that grief leads to death, their April study shows the response is considered natural.
“People come into the hospital all the time that have physical symptoms of what you might call a broken heart,” said Cindy Bishop, Chaplain of Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital. “They have physical signs of what that grief has done to them.”
As the coordinator for parental bereavement, bishop deals daily with parents who’ve lost their babies.
“It’s especially sad in this time of year when there are hopes and dreams of that child and they no longer have that hope,” said Bishop.
She said those hopes and dreams don’t end, whether the child is 6 days or 60 years old. It’s why we are captured by the grief and death of Reynolds following her daughter.
For the many that will go on and must cope, Bishop says we are all different.
“Give yourself permission to do what you need to do,” she said.
This means take your time. Make new traditions or cherish the old. Take time for yourself or lean on others. There isn’t a stop watch testing how quickly you move on, but Bishop said it is necessary to act if you or a loved one feels “stuck.”
“If they are acknowledging that they are in a bad place, then you need to acknowledge that too,” said Bishop. “Give them permission to feel their feelings, to verbalize those feelings and, if you need to, to get them help.”
Click HERE for resources on dealing with grief and loss.