After the tragic death of her husband, she had a heart attack

  • While on family vacation, my husband died suddenly.
  • A week or two after the tragedy, my symptoms improved, but not for everyone.
  • Every day, I saw six of our children lose their fathers.

I had a good heart before our family vacation. When I returned home, I had to make sure that my chest did not hurt.

That weekend, my 37-year-old husband died. He was playing in the water with three of our six children when the waves hit him hard enough and broke his neck in three places. This was only over time; His brain swelled and eventually his brain stopped functioning.

I had never heard of a broken heart syndrome before his death. But I felt chest pain, but it hurt


panic attack

. According to the medical explanation, stress and grief are squeezing parts of my heart very hard.

I am a writer and I am always worried about the lack of words to express my grief over his death. The concept of a broken heart syndrome had meaning.

Three or four hours later, I thought that the doctor sitting in front of me was crying because he had brought me and hit my father on the head. Knowing that death was coming, I wondered if I should sit next to him. I wanted to say yes or no to every organ or tissue type, this organ is a mandatory part of the donor. I called my children’s psychologist to discuss how to tell the children who were waiting for news on the beach that some of them had died before their parents joined our family. I thought I would tell everyone – I was the first to know, so I shared the news first privately and then publicly.

My heart almost ached about this now. Many people describe their heart as sad. Now my heart thinks normally, not with a broken heart syndrome.

Fractured heart syndrome is usually temporary

When I learned about the broken heart syndrome, I learned two additional names for it, one literal and one literary. Both include the term cardiomyopathy, which describes a condition of the heart muscle. Stress-induced cardiomyopathy is usually described on medical charts. I like it because it’s straightforward and logical. Stress can cause the heart muscle to tense more or less.

Another creative name: takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Takotsubo is a Japanese fishing vessel in which an octopus is trapped in a small hole in a larger spherical pot. When Japanese doctors saw the shape of the left ventricle of the heart in patients with stress-induced cardiomyopathy, they noted that its shape resembled the shape of a vessel holding an octopus.

I love the name because of its figurative language, as well as because I feel takotsubo cardiomyopathy and my heart feels like an octopus.

Some die of broken heart syndrome

After a week or two, I felt better. Not everyone is happy.

Joe Garcia died of a heart attack this week in Uvalde, Texas. Two days ago, his wife, Irma Garcia, was killed in the fourth grade, one of those killed in a shooting at Uvalde School. His family said his death from a heart attack was probably due to the condition. Their four children, both parents, died suddenly and tragically within a week, living with figuratively broken hearts.

I am saddened to see my six children lose their lives every day.

Wounded hearts are often marked by the dashed lines on the hearts of cartoons, but as far as I know and as the Garcia family is learning, real wounded hearts are not cute emojis.

We were not created for this level of grief, and sometimes the heart cannot bear the pain.

Shannon Dingle is a disabled activist, freelance writer, survivor of sexual trafficking, widowed and recovering perfectionist. His first book, Courage in Life, was published in early 2021 by HarperOne. She and her six children live in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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