Heartbroken wife who found husband dead 'laid down and died beside him'

Paula Shepherd is thought to have covered her husband in a duvet for three days before dying with him

A woman is believed to have laid down beside her husband and died there after finding he had passed away.

The coroner said at an inquest into Raymond Shepherd's death in Southampton that Paula Shepherd's "world had collapsed totally" without him.

Mrs Shepherd, who was living in the Southampton area, is believed to have covered Mr Shepherd - a retired bank manager to whom she had been married for more than 40 years - in a duvet and not told anyone of his death for about three days because of shock, according to the Portsmouth News.

The 70-year-old is thought to have then collapsed, or had a seizure, lying beside her husband.

Her stepdaughter, Alison White, said the assessment was "quite possible."

"She always took the back seat and dad was her anchor," she told the newspaper.

The pair were found when Suzanne Ashman, an estate agent for the house in Lock's Heath in Southampton they had just moved into, visited after receiving no replies to letters and emails. 

She called police after a decaying smell caused her not to venture further than the porch.

"The smell hit me and I didn't go over the threshold," she said.

Police discovered bloodstains in the bungalow and proceeded to find Mr and Mrs Shepherd lying side by side on the floor.

David Horsley, coroner at Portsmouth Coroner's Court, said both deaths were due to natural causes and it would be difficult to speculate exactly how Mrs Shepherd had passed away.

"Her world had collapsed totally without him," he said.

"They had been together a long time and I think she couldn't see a future without him."

"We can't imagine what went on in the time between the deaths and it's such a tragedy," he said.

Grief has been proven to be a contributing cause of death, with the risk of a stroke or heart attack doubled after a partner has died.

The couple's bodies were found on April 7, three weeks after they had last been seen. Their daughter had visited in that time but thought they were on holiday.