By Rick Hinton
A few years back, I took my wife, Laura, through my DVD library of television series that have had some personal impact upon me. We were going through season two of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” when we reached the episode, “I Only Have Eyes For You,” with the accompanying song from “The Flamingos.” It doesn’t take much to trigger my thought process (songs often do it) towards a bigger picture or conclude that there is such a thing as soulmates.
Close couple deaths – spouses that die within days, sometimes hours, of each other – always seem to get news attention. Although millions outlive their spouses for many years after death, it’s those that go together that raise eyebrows and a sense of wonder. It seems to be against the odds. One study concluded that within three months after one spouse dies, the odds are 30 to 90 percent the other will soon follow. That is, of course, if the surviving spouse even makes it those three months. Another study declares an 18 percent mortality rate for men whose wives die first; and 16 percent for women. Is it a coincidence? Does love last forever, even beyond physical death? From a spiritual aspect, can two souls be so closely tied together that death will not break them apart? Are they inseparable in death as they once were in life? I would like to think so. It seems to become a matter of true soulmates.
Singer Johnny Cash and his wife, June Carter Cash, died within four months of one another. NFL quarterback Doug Flutie’s father Dick and mother Joan died from heart attacks within one hour of each other.
“They say you can die of a broken heart, and I believe it,” said Flutie.
And, it isn’t just husbands and wives, but also family members. Actress Debbie Reynolds passed away just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, died. Debbie’s son also believes his mom died of a broken heart.
There are countless other stories of folks from the non-celebrity world:
Harold and Ruth Knapke, married 65 years, died 11 hours apart in an Ohio nursing home room they shared. Les and Helen Brown, married 75 years, died in their home one day apart. Bernard and Irene Jordan – within a week of one another.
Michigan couple Leslie and Patricia McWaters, married 47 years, died from COVID-19 just moments apart. Daughter Joanna says, “It’s beautiful, but it’s so tragic, kind of like “Romeo & Juliet.” One wouldn’t have wanted to be without the other.”
There is a medical condition called Broken Heart Syndrome that may very well factor into closely tied deaths. Extreme grief produces stress hormones, including adrenaline, which cause the left side of the heart to balloon in size. The right side of the heart then overcompensates. It’s a heart attack, but not in the traditional sense. It begins with the mind working out (or not) the emotions related to someone close to you passing away. Can we will ourselves to die? Many believe we can.
When elderly couples die together, it is seen as sweet and reassuring. However, when this happens to younger couples, it is most often looked upon as tragic. Regardless, do soulmates remain soulmates throughout eternity?