Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher and Grief


It is heartbreaking, contrary to the natural order, losing a child to death. Given that she died one day after her daughter's death, it is not surprising to read the USA Today headlines Could Debbie Reynolds have died of a broken heart?

In fact, there actually is a real medical condition called the broken heart syndrome that is related to experiencing a heartbreaking event involving situational loss. In the American Heart Association's article Is Broken Heart Syndrome Real?, it is pointed out that the symptoms of chest pain can occur after a death, divorce or other tense-induced event and can "be misdiagnosed as a heart attack because the symptoms and test results are similar" I have known about the broken heart syndrome for years having written about it to assist caregivers in both my books Caregiving with Strength and Keeping It Together. The good news is that this condition is treatable with a potentially quicker recovery than from a heart attack.

Based on the notion that you can die of a broken heart, it is important to be aware that grief impacts and can impact greatly. Assessing and acknowledging symptoms related to death or nondeath loss can assist in restoring health. It is also important to acknowledge, as was so obvious in Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher's mother/daughter relationship, that at the core of it all is LOVE.

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© 2019 Eleanor Silverberg. 

Updated May 2020

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