Broken Heart Syndrome is Real

Read new People Magazine article in which David comments on George Bush and broken heart syndrome…read more

Broken heart syndrome is in the news again with Barbara Bush’s death and now the hospitalization of her husband and former President, George Bush. Broken heart syndrome is real. We have often wondered: Can you die of a broken heart?

The answer is yes. Is that what we are witnessing with George Bush being hospitalized the two days after his wife’s funeral? I see this in many relationships over the years. Grief is a reflection of our love. And that connection appears to break in death. We see this happening in couples where one spouse dies not long after another. We also see it with parents and children. Many believe that Debbie Reynolds died of broken heart syndrome.

What you need to know:

  • Broken Heart Syndrome is real.
  • Most of us experience it after a major loss. A few of us die from it. Hopefully, George Bush will pull through.
  • Grief of Barbara’s magnitude is likely to have compromised George Bush’s health.
  • Till death do us part is often not true with Broken Heart Syndrome. The love and the longing continue. Sometimes the other spouse follows days, weeks or months later.
  • We see this all the time in long-term married couples. The loss of Barbara after 73 years has to take its toll. One person dies, and then the other spouse follows.
  • One of the biggest risk factors is age. It appears that most people who have Broken Heart Syndrome are older than 50.
  • Women are also at higher risk than men for Broken Heart Syndrome.
  • Countless people have Broken Heart Syndrome and it is undetected.
  • Despite its serious presentation, it is usually reversible. The heart ventricle typically returns to normal within 14 days, and most patients recover with no long-term heart damage.
  • Broken Heart Syndrome is most common when we lose a spouse or a child. How you can help your loved one if you think they have Broken Heart Syndrome.
  • If they have chest pain or any other medical condition, please seek medical care immediately.
  • Witness their grief. See their pain. Don’t try to point out the silver lining.
  • Tell them they are not alone. You are with them in their pain.
  • They are not broken and do not need fixing just because they are in grief. Just love them.

Grief is a reflection of the love. And the loss of a love so deep can be heartbreaking. However, most of us do survive Broken Heart Syndrome. We learn to live in a world without our loved ones. We will miss and yearn for them forever. In time, you will remember those who have died with more love than pain.

Grief Resources


Bereavement groups often offer individuals an important opportunity to be with others as they allow their grief to heal.  Read More.

Children in Grief


Children read our feelings and mirror our emotions. Soaking up reassurance or fear, love or hate, safety or danger.  Read More.

Grief & Holidays


When you have lost someone special, your world losses its celebratory qualities. Holidays only magnify the loss.  Read More.

Dealing with Pain


Each person has his or her own beliefs about pain and pain behaviors. What are your beliefs about pain?  Read More.

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