Grief can also result in declining health because of the physical stress or people forgetting to take medication — or care for themselves in general — during the bereavement process.
“We often use the term a ‘broken heart’ to signify the pain of losing a loved one and our study shows that bereavement can have a direct effect on the health of the heart,” Dr. Sunil Shah, senior lecturer in public health at St. George’s University of London and a co-author of the report, said.
In December 2016, when Debbie Reynolds died one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, many wondered whether you can actually die from a broken heart. Grief expert David Kessler, who worked with Fisher on a number of occasions, told USA Today that Fisher and Reynolds “were so close. I would not be surprised if part of this was broken heart syndrome.”
At the time, Kessler also offered advice for people who have significant reactions to the deaths of famous people they likely never interacted with in real life, telling USA Today that people shouldn’t feel unnerved that they are distressed over the loss of someone they never met.
“Your grief is a reflection of a connection that has been lost… not necessarily someone you met. If your heart feels connected, it will grieve,” he said.