I heard about someone who thought she had a heart attack shortly after her husband died. This woman did not have a history or evidence of heart disease. The doctors called it broken heart syndrome.
I’ve also been reading about how our heart has a brain:
"The heart is, in fact, a highly complex information-processing center with its own functional brain, commonly called the heart brain, that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways. These influences affect brain function and most of the body’s major organs and play an important role in mental and emotional experience and the quality of our lives."
I said to myself, “Of course it does!” (and I have to tell you, our gut has one too). We’ve always had metaphors for this in our language (follow your heart!) and in other systems of belief (yogic heart chakra!). The Romantic Poets knew this. There have even been reports of personality changes after heart transpant surgery! In short, the heart is not simply a pump that circulates blood and oxygen and such.
Emily Dickinson knew, too. See how she asks the heart to forget, not the brain?
Heart, we will forget him,
You and I, tonight!
You must forget the warmth he gave, I will forget the light.
When you have done pray tell me,
Then I, my thoughts, will dim.
Haste! ‘lest while you’re lagging
I may remember him!
Oh, my heart!
images: Heartsick, full painting and detail, available in my shop!