the sad story of a Latin American poet

Juan Antonio Pérez-Bonalde was a late 19th century Venezuelan poet. His life changed after watching a loved one die laughing.

Flor was little more than two years old and an intelligence advanced for her age. His father, Juan Antonio Pérez-Bonalde, married to the American Amanda Schoonmaker, were only happy when they were by his side. Otherwise, confrontations dominated marital life.

Little Flower, during a family meal, came to understand a story that her parents were commenting on. And suddenly he started laughing. He laughed so much, so much, that he passed away.

Dying laughing was possible.

Since then, the couple separated, and Pérez-Bonalde, one of the great Latin American poets of the 19th century, fell into drugs and alcohol until his death in 1892.

Pérez-Bonalde dedicated to Flor a poem with his name. His story is told in this link by the Venezuelan writer Rafael Arráiz Lucca.

Dying laughing, a more common reality than you think

Pérez-Bonalde’s little daughter was not the first person to die laughing. The records of this type of death can be traced back to the 12th century BC, at that time mixed between myth and reality.

Calcante, a soothsayer from Greek mythology, died laughing after making fun of a prophecy that said he would never get to taste a wine.

History tells names like those of Zeuxis, Crísipo, Martín de Aragón, Pietro Aretino or the Cuban poet Julian del Casal. The event happened in the same way: they drank or ate excessively.

At one point, they laughed so hard that they died.

The scientific explanation

Explains the journalist Daniel Marin that in the process of laughter « hundreds of muscles intervene that accelerate the heart rate and alter breathing. »

“In seconds, hilarity will give way to anguish. The inability to stop laughing will prevent your lungs from renewing the air. Your body will burst out laughing ”.

Also, if they are patients with heart conditions who died after the attack of laughter.

About the Cuban Del Casal it is noted that after the severe attack of laughter he suffered a hemorrhage and the rupture of an aneurysm. Possibly the case of little Flor Pérez-Bonalde was similar.

They are stories that seem unusual, but that are part of a sad reality.