You Can Die of a Broken Heart

Generally speaking, I’m pretty indifferent to the struggles of the glitterati, but the news that Debbie Reynolds died less than a day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher,  was pronounced dead is heartening. Carrie Fisher is an icon of my generation because she was, for a lot of us, their first crush. Even if it was irrational, you remember that. Carrie Fisher in the role of Princess Leia didn’t really do it for the young me, but Kathy Coleman in the role of Holly Marshall of Land of the Lost fame certainly did. I don’t want to jinx her. Please, Kathy Coleman, If you see 2016, RUN… just like you did from Grumpy and Alice. Don’t let it get you!

My paternal grandparents were sweethearts from childhood. They lived right around the block from each other in their South Philly neighborhood. My grandmother used to tell me stories of sitting on top of hidden liquor crates with my grandfather that her father was smuggling to Atlantic City on behalf of his employers (ever see Boardwalk Empire? My great-grandfather worked for Nucky). No one would ever suspect a family man traveling to the Jersey Shore for the weekend with the kids.

My paternal grandparents had known each other their whole lives. My grandfather had a couple of strokes in 1996, and a big one killed him that same year. My grandmother went very quickly downhill. She completely lost the will to live. I’ve come to think you get to a certain age, you can actually will yourself to die, or at least give up fighting the inevitable. Whatever cause of death she had on her death certificate, she died of a broken heart. So I can sympathize. I can’t imagine that kind of thing being in the public eye. Such is the price of celebrity.

5 thoughts on “You Can Die of a Broken Heart”

  1. I’m just under 34 and even I can remember Carrie Fisher as Leia being the first woman to make me say “wow!”

    Looking at Debbie Reynolds when she was younger, easy to see where Fischer inherited her looks from. She was a stunner too IMO.

  2. Same story as my paternal grandparents. Grandpa passed after long-term health issues, and Grandma — who had always been sprightly for her age — went downhill quick, and passed just a few months later.

    I’ve always believed, and this certainly confirmed, that when the one person that is your whole world is gone and you find no reason to keep living, that the end can come quickly. “Dying of a broken heart” sounds like a cliche (Hollywood has certainly made it so), but it can and does happen.

  3. My mom died a few months after her younger brother, my uncle Lou, died.

    Aunt Joye died a little over a year after my Uncle Lou died.

    A month after Mom died, Dad looked ten years older and had trouble walking when he didn’t before. He died two years and two days after Mom.

    My uncle Darrel died less than a year after his wife, my aunt Alice, died.

    There have also been a number exceptions in my family. Several aunts lived for many years after their husbands died. And my step-grandmother lived for about 15 years after grandfather died (she also pretended he was still with her sometimes).

    Sort of related…

    My ex-wife always said she wanted to die before me because she didn’t want to be without me. And she, as expected and predicted, tried to commit suicide (high speed chase with the Idaho State Patrol then tried to drive her car in the river, failed, then climbed over the barrier and swam out into the icy water) within an hour after I had her served with separation papers.

  4. My wife’s grandmother Lizzie died a few months after her children talked her into selling her house she had lived in all her life and move in with one of her daughters.
    She had lived alone for several years and was A very active and seemingly healthy woman, we visited her a couple weeks after she moved and she was a different person. The spark was gone, she had nothing to do but sit around all day and I believe it killed her to not be taking care of things. She looked defeated and lost her will to keep living.
    They wanted to take away her problems, but instead took away her reasons to live.

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