An Ohio couple who had stayed married for more than 64 years died within five hours of each other on Christmas Eve, holding hands as each took their final breath.
Bill Schafrath, 88, died around 7 a.m. while his wife Nancy Schafrath died at around 11 a.m. at Brookdale Senior Living, an assisted living facility in Wooster, Ohio.
The couple had been living at the assisted living facility for the past year.
“In the last couple weeks, when he couldn’t get out of bed anymore, we’d push their beds together in the middle of the room,” Pat Cornelius, the couple’s niece, told the Daily Record. “So they literally held hands for the last week of their life.”
Other relatives have shared how amazed they were to see the couple’s deaths be so close to each other.
“It’s almost like they decided that if one went, the other would go, too,” their nephew, John Moritz, said. “Somehow they knew.”
The Schafraths did not have children but Bill came from a family of 12 siblings, so the family had many nieces and nephews along with 200 extended family members.
All of these family members showed up to the couple’s funeral Mass on January 2 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, where they attended Mass throughout their entire married lives, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
“Certainly for me as I imagine for most of you, this is a first, a Mass where we are burying a married couple together, who died on the same day of natural causes,” the Rev. Father Richard Samide said during his homily at the funeral Mass.
It is not uncommon to see couples who have been married a long time die within hours and sometimes minutes of each other due to natural causes.
Just a few days before the Schafraths passed, a Michigan couple married for 70 years died 20 minutes apart while in hospice care. And earlier in the month, a husband and wife married 68 years died just one day apart.