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Dying of Heartbreak Is Fucking Real, According to Study

The study says that "the risk was highest 18–14 days after the loss."

Illustration by George Heaven

Read: How Can I Get My Parents to Stop Talking About Death?

In startlingly upsetting news, it turns out that, yes, you can actually die of a broken heart. According to a fucking magnificently morose and depressing study done in Denmark—whose use of antidepressants is the fourth highest in the world—statistics taken over roughly ten years show that there's a correlation between a recent bereavement and subsequent death. Other studies have shown that once someone's life partner dies, they are more susceptible to heart disease and strokes.


The study was published in the online Open Heart journal, which stated that "the risk was highest 18–14 days after the loss."

Though the dizzyingly dark stats paint a picture of crushing loneliness and despair, the study, which was led by Simon Graaf of the Aarhus University, is keen to make it clear that the study is just an observational one—no concrete conclusions can be drawn from it.

That said, it does paint a bleak picture of what it's like to be physically affected by an incredible grief. When people's partners aren't even unhealthy and still have the audacity to die, the risk for the living partner to follow is raised by 57 percent.

The irregular heartbeat—or atrial fibrillation—quickens and shifts the pulse around, and it increases the risk of strokes and dementia, which might be welcome if you're waking up in an empty bed every morning wondering why you must still be alive.

You know how the people who live the longest are the ones working until they're 70-odd, still walking around, still exercising? It's because they have something to do. When people retire, their bodies sort of just… give up. That seems to be what happens when you lose the love of your life, too, which is kind of sweet but also terrifying.