A woman who could not cope with the loss of her husband of more than 60 years “died of a broken heart”, her grieving family today said.
Derek and Brenda Coulton, both 85, died just days apart in tragic circumstances, a joint inquest into their deaths heard.
Mr Coulton, a former insurance manager, collapsed in the living room of their Lytham home after suffering a fatal heart attack in Febraury.
Police, called to the bungalow on Hall Park Drive by concerned relatives, found his wife – conscious and breathing but unable to talk – on the floor by his body.
She was taken to hospital with hypothermia but died just hours later.
Speaking after the inquest at Blackpool Town Hall, the couple’s nephew Robert Bowker said: “They were a much-loved couple. They spent their entire lives together. It appears that Brenda died of a broken heart upon realising her husband died of a heart attack.”
The inquest heard the couple, both born in Manchester, had been together since they were 16 and were due to celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary this year.
Claire Doherty, assistant coroner for Blackpool and Fylde, said: “They were a devoted, loving couple, both in their mid-80s, but independent and living in a bungalow in Lytham.”
A post-mortem examination found Mr Coulton had died of a heart attack days before he was found by police on February 20.
Consultant pathologist Dr Mark Sissons said: “It’s clear he had been dead for perhaps two or three days.”
His wife, whose body temperature was 29.5 degrees F on arrival at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, despite the heating being on when she was found, died of pneumonia caused by hypothermia.
Det Insp Jason Richardson, of Blackpool CID, led an investigation into their death but found no suspicious circumstances, the inquest was told.
Concluding the hearing, Ms Doherty said: “It is possible Derek had a heart attack that Brenda witnessed.
“Such was her grief and shock that she failed to keep herself warm and she might have been overwhelmed by the hypothermia.”
She ruled that Mr Coulton died of natural causes between Febraury 17 and 20.
Recording a narrative verdict for Mrs Coulton, she said: “Brenda Coulton witnessed the sudden death of her devoted husband at her home.
“As a result she developed pneumonia and hypothermia, which, on the balance of probabilities, rendered her unable to look after herself.”