Joe & Irma Garcia/GoFundMe

The husband of the beloved teacher Irma Garcia, one of two teachers gunned down in the Uvalde elementary school shooting, has died.

Joe Garcia had just returned home from leaving flowers on his wife’s memorial when he suddenly just “fell over.” His nephew John Martinez told media outlets he believes his uncle died of a “broken heart” as Joe appeared to have gone into cardiac arrest.

Joe and Irma Garcia were married for 24 years and left behind four beautiful children. The couple’s daughter had just released a heartbreaking letter to her mother where she promised to “take care of dad.” The pair were devoted to their marriage and children and loved nothing more than spending time together.

Irma was among the 21 people killed at Robb Elementary when an 18-year-old gunman stormed the school on a truly evil and horrific mission. Irma died as she was trying to protect her students, whom she also treated like her children. One of the students was found deceased in Irma’s arms. The students were just days away from going on what should have been summer vacation.

The senseless act of violence has left the nation in utter disbelief, but it was Joe Garcia who could truly not bear the pain of losing his dear wife. The pair had 24 years to love each other, and that still wasn’t long enough. Irma was loved by her students and her colleagues. She was known for her kind and compassionate nature, “she was a light in every room,” said Martinez. For Joe Garcia’s heart, not having the light in the room any longer was not something it could handle.

As death from grief is usually rare, doctors say it is quite possible. The symptoms mimic that of a heart attack and are deadly. Doctors in Japan have referred to broken heart syndrome as “takotsubo cardiomyopathy” and believe the rush of one’s hormones behind stress simply stuns your cells.

Harvard psychiatrist Dr. F. Gerard said the condition is usually triggered 24 hours after a severe stressor. In Joe’s case, it was just 48 hours after his wife had died. Moeller says it’s typically not something you see with the normal stress at work but something that would push the brain to respond to intense emotion.

Losing the love of your life after spending decades together is definitely a severe stressor, and the pain their children now have to bear with losing both parents just days apart is unimaginable. It is heart-wrenching to think about. Family members have helped set up a GoFundMe for the children to help with the expenses of memorials for Joe and Irma.

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad