Thursday, January 5, 2017

A tribute to Debbie Reynolds & Carrie Fisher: By Raymond Anthony Fernando

A ‘broken heart syndrome’ can have damaging health effects on those who lose those their loved ones.  According to Dr. Sunil Shah, who helped lead the research at St George’s, University of London, the devastation felt by a surviving partner can make them overlook their own health issues.


“There is evidence, from other studies, that the bereavement and grief lead to a range of adverse physiological responses including changes in blood clotting, blood pressure, stress hormone levels and heart rate control,” said Dr. Shah.


According to cardiologists, emotions such as sadness, anger, and fear can trigger the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and in access, this can temporarily ‘stun’ the heart muscle.


When you have grown to become so attached to a loved one, it can rip you apart and make you feel defeated when the person you cherish so much is suddenly taken away.  Undoubtedly, grief is a natural response to loss. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be.

From my own personal experience, this ‘broken heart syndrome’ is so true for when I lost my wife so suddenly, I sank into months of situational depression that led me to battle insomnia for a whole year.  It was only my faith in God that helped me survive this extremely painful period in my life which pushed me to seek help from a psychologist.


This ‘broken heart syndrome’ was clearly felt by Debbie Reynolds when she struggled to come to terms with the passing of her daughter.

84-year-old Debbie Reynolds died on Wednesday night, 28th December 2016, shortly after her daughter, Carrie Fisher suffered a fatal heart attack.


Both Reynolds and Fisher were extremely talented in their own ways. Though Fisher struggled for years with a bipolar disorder, the author of Postcards from the edge did not allow her condition to pull her down.  Instead, she educated the public about the condition as if she were on a mission – and went on to become a dynamic mental health advocate, earning the respect of millions all over the world.


Reynolds contributed so much to the entertainment industry both as a gifted actress and singer.   She was Hollywood’s royalty, leaving a long and glittery legacy in the cinema. Her talent shone brightly: She could dance, sing, act and stomp her way through decades with musical hits such as Tammy and the Bachelor and The Unsinkable Molly Brown, for which she scored an Oscar nomination.


Many world-famous singers like Jim Reeves, Engelbert Humperdinck have recorded the popular song Am I that easy to forget, but to me, the best rendition was done by Debbie Reynolds, a tune I listen to almost every day of the week.  I have every confidence that if copies of her song are reproduced, it will sell like hot cakes as Reynolds was everybody’s darling.    


In the words sung so beautiful by the late Nat King Cole’s smash hit Unforgettable, Debbie Reynolds, both you and your daughter Carrie Fisher will remain unforgettable and live in our hearts forever – not just for your creativity and talent, but for teaching us the virtue of giving love to one another I such an immaculate manner.  For the strong bond between mother and daughter are virtues which we can all learn from and emulate. Their passing certainly reminds us to stay closely knit as a family.


For those who grief, support from the community can play an important role in helping the bereaved cope with loneliness and despair so that they can ride out of the storm.


Often those who experience pain and suffering will be in a better position to show empathy to others in a similar condition.  One elderly lady who was singled out by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his 2017 New Year message for rendering support to those who grief is Mrs. Satyabhama Karunakaran who, after losing her husband through a heart attack, has gone on to undertake volunteer work in lending senior citizens some strength and a listening year as described in The Straits Time report Times (“PM Lee lauds everyday heroes in New Year message”, Sunday, January 1, 2017).


Yes, let’s embrace the virtue of kindness, and take the cue from what popular  TV host, comedian and actress Ellen DeGeneres advice when she ends her TV show: “Be kind to one another”.





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