Death by Broken Heart

Heartbreak Kid
Unbreak My Heart
It’s a Heartache
Piece of My Heart
Each Time You Break My Heart
Half of My Heart
Break Your Heart
Tearin’ Up My Heart
Shot to the Heart
Shot Through the Heart
Achy Breaky Heart
This Is How a Heart Breaks
Breaks My Heart
I’ll Never Break Your Heart
One Broken Heart for Sale

Those are just some of the songs that mention broken hearts in the title.  Search the ‘net and you can find many more.  Still more songs have been written about heartbreak and heartache which don’t include the words heart and break.  The country & western music industry does not have a monopoly on the subject despite the number of songs about it.  It just seems that way.

Pick an artist, decade, genre and you can find a song about heartbreak.  Every generation can identify several.  From the start of rock ‘n roll there have been songs about the subject.  The reasons encompass she loves him, he doesn’t love her, he did her wrong somehow, she did him wrong, someone cheated or lied, one loved more than the other, accusations, recriminations, innuendo, love lost, love that died, and various permutations and variations on all the aforementioned.

While there have been critics of the abundance of silly little love songs, there are probably more songs reflecting the pain and loss of love.  Regarding the former, there are numerous compilations in nearly every genre and decade of songs prevalent on shopping channels.  I have yet to see an advertisement for a collection of heartbreak songs.  Surprisingly, no one has aggressively pursued that potential cash cow.

Then there are the requisite – or is it obligatory – divorce songs by any songwriter who’s been through one.  Among the more well known – and best-selling – are Every Breath You Take (Sting/The Police) – somewhat dangerous and scary in content, and Phil Collins’ Against All Odds, used as a movie title track, in which he still desperately wants her back while knowing it is futile.

While the musical questions have been asked How Can You Mend a Broken Heart and What Becomes of the Brokenhearted, the more important question remains ‘Can you die of a broken heart?’  We won’t even discuss the little ditty asking who wrote the Book of Love or Why Do Fools Fall in Love?

Consider this:  The symptoms of a heart attack include pain in the chest, intense pressure on the chest, shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat.  Hmm…same symptoms when your heart has been broken.  It is an emotional heart attack.  It hurts because your heart was open to love to give and receive.  It danced and sang and laughed.  Because you are a giver.  And someone who is a taker availed themselves of your heart, then ripped it out, stomped on it, shredded it into a million pieces and walked away, leaving you wounded and in serious pain.

Emergency rooms are simply not equipped to deal with emotional heart attacks.  Drugs will not cure.  In fact, in this situation, drugs will probably make the symptoms worse, can potentially lead to other medical conditions, and won’t prevent a reoccurrence.  Ditto alcohol.

The CDC ranks heart disease as the #1 cause of death in the U.S.  Suicide ranks #10, and homicide #15.  Now, while most people equate heart disease with heart attack, it actually encompasses a number of physical ailments that damage the heart until it can no longer function.  We’ve all known of someone whose death cannot be attributed to disease, suicide or homicide. Without an autopsy, death certificates are issued which state cause of death as heart failure, since in the end, the heart stops.  Emotional heartbreak may be the cause, but there simply are no statistics to quantify death by broken heart.

You can either let the pain and grief consume you and let your heart die, becoming one of the undocumented victims of death by broken heart, or you can reach into your personal first aid kit and avail yourself of the remedies that allow recovery from the heartache and make you feel whole again:  friends and music.

Having a friend whose shoulder you can cry on – literally or figuratively is essential.  I had a friend who would appear on my doorstep –  at all hours – every time his heart got broken and I would invite him in, supply a beverage, an ear, a shoulder, and a hug.  He even once showed up unexpectedly as I was leaving work.  Though it’s been years, I still expect him to show up any time.  Having a friend who can wrap their arms around you and hold you tight to help regulate your breathing and heart rate is extremely therapeutic.  I have experience on both sides of this remedy.  In extreme cases, this remedy may take overnight and may need to be repeated as necessary.

As for music, forget any that exacerbates the pain.  You need to ease it, purge it from your system.  Therefore, no sappy sentimental sad songs.  I started assembling this part of the first aid kit back in college.  A friend a I were both unceremoniously dumped on the  same night.  We both felt we were not deserving of mean-spirited words and having the rest of our entire weekend shot to hell.  The next night we set about rifling through all music collections available to use for songs that would allow us to laugh, smile and dance.  We needed to boost our psyches.  The music choices in the kit have expanded through the years.

First, start with your theme song.  I found mine at 17, long before Ally McBeal.  You have one.  It’s the one piece of music you listen to when you’ve had a bad day, feeling blue or had your heart ripped out.  It’s the one piece of music that soothes you, provides a sense of peace, lifts your spirit, speaks to you in some way:  a feel good song.  You may need to play this repeatedly in this situation.

Selections in your kit should also include Harry Nilsson’s You’re Breaking My Heart, an upbeat ditty despite the title (his divorce song), which I’ve always referred to as the ‘f*** u’ song, with a catchy riff that will get you humming and dancing.  For more vintage, there’s Maria Muldaur’s rendition of Three Dollar Bill (‘don’t want it, don’t need it’ can’t spend it’), followed by her rousing version of I’m a Woman (‘satisfaction guaranteed’) to restore your mojo.  Follow this up with You’re Moving Out Today.  Add to the mix Too Many Fish In The Sea (‘don’t want nobody that don’t want me’), keep it rolling with Ray’s Hit The Road Jack, Connie Francis’ reminder that Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool (‘there are no exceptions to the rule’), and Soft Cell’s version of Tainted Love (‘once I ran to you, now I run from you’), covered by a female artist in a previous version so the song works for both sexes.

To complete the pain purging process, there is Exiles by Dan Fogelberg.  The entire CD, not the vinyl, known as his divorce album, which contains an additional track not included on the original vinyl critical for recovery.  All the anger, hurt, loss, regret, pain and love is in there.  It is a rocker.  One disc that gives you the strength to pack up and move on.  And no heartbreak first aid kit would be complete without Love Stinks by the J. Geils Band (no explanation necessary).  Add to the kit as needed.  Keep it handy.

Will your heart ever be the same?  Of course not.  There will be permanent scars.  Sting and Phil and Harry and Dan all let go of the pain and continued to let their hearts love.  Because time does not heal all wounds.  It merely allows for distance between you and the heart attack and the acute pain.  Once enough distance is achieved, then you can listen to sad love songs, heartbreak songs – without tears and pain and gasping for breath and clutching your heart to keep it from bursting.  And you can smile, remembering that you have loved.  Your heart has danced and laughed and all the takers were fools not to value you and keep you in their lives.

Your heart may be broken again in the future.  You know that Only Love Can Break Your Heart and Love Hurts but there will be a Next Time because Love Is Like Oxygen and you are a giver.  It’s your nature to love.

So, can you die of a broken heart?  Yes, if you let it.  Or you can let your heart Sing Sing Sing ‘cause Life Is A Highway and You’re Addicted to Love, so Jump, Twist And Shout, and let the Good Vibrations release those endorphins and soothe your soul with the Rhythm Of The Rain.

Your choice.

questions, comments, emotional outbursts....

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