My paternal grandparents died within a month of each other when they were in their 80s. I don’t know if the second one died of a broken heart because from memory they always appeared very stern and aloof. But my grandmother certainly lost the will to continue living after my grandfather died, she had lost her lifetime partner.
Recent research has concluded how a surviving partner can die from a broken heart, with the man being most severely affected.
My mother married my father when she was 16 and still misses him desperately following his death five-and-a-half years ago after a long, happy and fun marriage. I tell her she is now paying the price for her happy marriage. They were always tactile, and there is such a huge gap left in her life.
I worry about her and I’m afraid to say she doesn’t look after herself as well as she should, her fridge is often empty and I know she feels lonely and would like me to spend more time with her. But thankfully she hasn’t given up on dressing beautifully and caring for her skin which is still silky smooth and totally free of wrinkles. I’m lucky to have inherited her genes.
She always used to say that if she died first, dad wouldn’t be able to cope without her, that he would remarry with indecent haste just so someone could care for him.
The research discovered that men fare much worse after losing a loved one, that they are up to six times more likely to die from a broken heart than women who have been bereaved within the first 12 months. Women are up to twice as likely to die in the year following a partner’s death.
I find this so sad, the fact that their love is like an empty vessel and they do not have the strength to continue and pour that love into another direction where it will be appreciated, that their precious memories and the support of their family do not sustain them during those darkest days.
Heart experts say people who lose a loved one often adopt unhealthy habits such as smoking and a poor diet. Drinking too much too, I imagine. However, it is thought that intense loneliness and the psychological distress caused by their loss could play a large part in them simply giving up and losing the will to continue.
My very cynical mother likes to tell me about scheming women who read the obit pages in the local press to search out recently bereaved men they know of so they can ply them with sympathy and homemade apple pie, that this is a sure way of finding a new husband!
The good news from the research paper is that after the first year of mourning, the chances of a bereaved partner dying decreases, demonstrating that people can recover from losing their loved one.
Especially if there is apple pie with tea and sympathy on offer….