Expert Says Dying Of A Broken Heart Is 'Absolutely Real'

by Jamie LeeLo

The world was stunned into silence on Tuesday, December 27, when word came that beloved actress Carrie Fisher (of "Star Wars" fame), 60, passed away after suffering a heart attack on an airplane a few days earlier.

Shockingly, just one day later, Fisher's 84-year-old mother and adored entertainer, Debbie Reynolds, died of a stroke, according to TMZ.

It begs the question: Could Debbie Reynolds have died from the pain of losing her daughter?

Some are saying yes.

Grief expert David Kessler, who was very close with Reynolds and Fisher, told USA TODAY dying of a broken heart is "absolutely real."

"I think it's extremely under-diagnosed. I think it's more common than we believe," Kessler told the newspaper.


Todd Fisher, Fisher's sister and Reynold's son, also suspects the passing of his sister "was too much" for his mom to handle. He reported to the Associated Press, "[Reynolds] said, 'I want to be with Carrie.' And then she was gone."

He added, "She's now with Carrie and we're all heartbroken."

Kessler explains that dying of a broken heart is most common among elderly couples and that "it's less seen but not surprising" for a parent's death to closely follow a child's death.


The American Heart Association supports this, referring to a condition called stress-induced cardiomyopathy as "broken heart syndrome." Though it's usually more common in women than men, it shows up in the form of sudden chest pain caused by a surge of stress hormones often associated with a traumatic or emotionally jarring event.

But, there are no traces of blocked arteries like there usually are with a heart attack. Your heart does enlarge, which potentially leads to short-term heart muscle failure.

Since Reynolds was at Fisher's home planning her funeral when the crisis struck, Kessler tells USA TODAY of her sudden death, "I would not be surprised if part of this was broken heart syndrome."


We've also seen evidence of dying from a broken heart in the past, with news stories like this couple who died 3 hours apart, and this couple who died within minutes of each other.

In Carrie Fisher's case, Kessler explains that she was someone who "was very comfortable with death" and that she "took life and death personally."

This just goes to show just how powerful love can be — and how much it can affect you when you lose someone close to you.

Both Fisher and Reynolds' will be severely missed, along with a great wave of other profound celebrity deaths in 2016.

Citations: Could Debbie Reynolds have died of a broken heart? (USA TODAY)