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Long-Married Couple, Marjorie And James Landis, Die 88 Minutes Apart

First Posted: 02/ 9/2012 4:13 pm Updated: 02/15/2012 5:06 pm

After spending 65 years together, a Pennsylvania couple died within an hour-and-a-half of each other Monday.

Marjorie Landis, 87, died at the Laurelwood Care Center near Johnstown, Pennsylvania following a long illness. Her 89-year-old husband, James Landis, died of a heart attack just 88 minutes later.

The couple's granddaughter, Erin Miller, told the Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown that the last thing her grandfather said to her grandmother was, "It's OK. I Love you. We had many good years together. I will see you real soon."

Marjorie first met her husband, a former Air Force pilot, at a dance in Johnstown, and the couple eventually married in 1946.

"I just think he died of a broken heart," Miller said. "I don't think they could have lived apart from each other."

Research suggests that the phenomenon of long-married spouses dying around the same time is not uncommon. A study published in 2007 by researchers at the University of Glasgow found that bereaved widows or widowers were at least 30 percent more likely to die within the first six months of their partner's death than those of the same age who hadn't lost a spouse.

While some say that the grief is simply too much for those who are elderly and physically fragile, others insist that there are concrete medical explanations why a surviving partner would die soon after losing a spouse.

Experts say that one person's heartbeat can affect and regulate another person's heartbeat, especially after sleeping next to each other for many years. This is significant, given that doctors have said the number one cause of death for bereaved spouses is heart disease and sudden death.

Others suggest that bereft spouses may suffer from takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a condition dubbed "broken heart syndrome," which causes chest pain and sudden heart failure following a traumatic emotional experience, such as the death of a mate.

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Filed by Jennifer Lai  |