“Singing in the Rain” star Debbie Reynolds died Wednesday, just one day after her daughter, the Hollywood actress Carrie Fisher, passed away. Moments before her death, the 84-year-old Reynolds told her son that “she would like to be with [Carrie] again.”
Fisher died on Boxing Day, two days after suffering a massive heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles. Shortly after, Reynolds posted on Facebook: “Thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter. I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop.”
While discussing Fisher’s funeral arrangements with her son Todd, Reynolds said that she longed to see her daughter again.
“The last thing she said this morning was that she was very, very sad about losing Carrie and that she would like to be with her again,” Todd Fisher told reporters. “Fifteen minutes later, she suffered a severe stroke.”
Reynolds was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she died a few hours later.
Tributes on social media poured in after news of Reynolds’ death was announced. Debra Messing, star of the hit TV series “Will & Grace” – in which Reynolds played her on-screen mother – tweeted: “So heartsick. Debbie went to be with Carrie. It’s such a devastating 1, 2 punch. She was my ‘mom’ for years & I loved her dearly. A legend.”
Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd posted a picture on Facebook of herself with her late mother and grandmother at the 2015 Screen Actors’ Guild Awards.
Broken heart syndrome
Dying within a day of her daughter has led many to suggest Reynolds died of a broken heart, which may seem like a plotline from a Hollywood film, but the theory does have some basis in science.
The exact cause of “broken heart syndrome” — more formally known as stress cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy — is unclear, according to the Mayo Clinic, but it’s thought that “a surge of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, might temporarily damage the hearts of some people.”
Broken heart syndrome is often preceded by an intense physical or emotional event such as the news of an unexpected death of a loved one.
The British Heart Foundation says it is a “temporary condition where your heart muscle becomes suddenly weakened or stunned. The left ventricle, one of the heart’s chambers, changes shape.”
There are countless stories of people with deep emotional ties dying within a very short time of each other, including high school sweethearts Les and Helen Brown, who were born on the same day in 1918 and died one day apart after 75 years of marriage.