Candid street shot, New Orleans.
It really is possible to die of a broken heart, scientists have found.
The immense grief of losing a loved one means that many people die within three years of their husband or wife.
Researchers at St Andrews University have identified a 'widowhood' effect which they claim does not just affect elderly couples, also occurs amongst those in their 30s and 40s.
They found that 40 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men died within three years of their partner.
The study, which will be published next year in the journal Epidemiology, identified a range of causes including cancer, heart diseases, accidents and suicides.
Professor Paul Boyle, chief executive of the Economic and Social Research Council, who led the study, said: 'The key message is that it doesn’t matter what causes of death you look at there is still a widowhood effect.
'This is a clear demonstration, we would argue, that social effects, such as losing a partner, have an impact on life expectancy.