Padmé’s death dissatisfied many people. They felt it took away from her ‘strong woman’ status that she simply died when Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. Or they felt betrayed she died then at all, given that it was suggested that Leia had some memory of her. But while screen time limited an explanation and story demanded her death to explain Anakin’s fall, the Expanded Universe hints at greater detail as to a cause of death that probably wasn’t in the memory banks of a medical droid who filed it under “lost the will to live.”
Did Padmé Die of a Broken Heart?
This isn’t the weakness people seem to think when they look down on Padmé Amidala for it but it’s unlikely nonetheless. It’s a real condition, caused when a traumatic stressful event affects the heart muscle. It’s really nothing to be ashamed of, especially in her situation, if in fact it was the cause. Her husband had just helped tear down the Republic she served and believed in, committed mass murder and betrayal. And he’d done it to gain the power to save her, and their unborn. How much worse if she was life bonded to him (see below) and sensed any of that pain? The medical droids probably should’ve been able to detect actual physical damage to her heart occurring, and that rules this out along with the possibly broken hyoid bone from Vader strangling her that they’d already treated.
The Life Bond – Padmé and Anakin – Sharing Pain
This ability caused a Force User to have a deep force connected bond to another being. Deeper than empathy, to the level of almost sharing thoughts, it also has it’s downside. It’s likeliest between family members or married couples, though close friends can develop it too. When this happens they can often sense their bonded partners pain, not just physically or mentally. If one is killed it can send the other into shock. This isn’t usually fatal, but it can be.
It is possible that Anakin and Padmé were life bonded. Anakin had always formed strong attachments. What’s more only one party needed to be Force sensitive. In addition, Padmé carried Anakin’s Force sensitive twins. Midichlorians live in cells, and the child in the womb does share some of these cells with Mother. It is possible that would heighten Padmé’s awareness of Anakin’s pain, both emotional (in his fear for her) and his physical, after he became Vader and battled Kenobi.
If there is one scene to suggest this, it’s that moment when Anakin stares tearfully toward her apartment from the Jedi Council chamber and she stares back as if across that great distance they could see each other. It was more like they could sense each other. But also the juxtaposition of Vader being reborn in agony as Padmé is dying giving birth to the twins hints at it.
Could Padmé Have Willed Herself to Die?
It may be a fine line between losing the will to live, or intentionally willing herself to die. Did Padmé choose to abandon them out of the pain she was suffering at losing all she loved? It definitely wasn’t a physical injury, the medical droid confirmed they treated that*. Or did she literally will herself to die not to abandon the twins but to save them? As long as she lived, Vader, her former love Anakin, would’ve sought her. And had he found her, he and Palpatine may have learned that they too lived. He would never stop hunting and that would put a target on them.
Palpatine knew, as I did, that if Anakin were to have any offspring, they would be a threat to him.Obi-Wan to Luke
Padmé was not weak to die as her twins were born. She was instead a human overwhelmed with horrific circumstances that were guaranteed to get worse if she lived. While it’s tragic she died, to blame her for events that few could’ve survived is absurd. Especially in light of the possibilities (and even likelihoods) of other factors. Could the movie have shown this clearer? Possibly. But three hour movies were not a thing at the time, and there is no doubt to ensure Anakin’s fall it had to happen.
Both of these, the Life Bond and the ability to Will Death, were mentioned before the prequels.
The Life Bond first appeared in the Truce at Bakura Sourcebook by West End Games in 1996, This was meant to tie into Truce at Bakura novel by Kathy Tyers. You also see this in Knights of the Old Republic 2 when you find that somehow, the Exile (you, the player) is bonded to Kreia. When she is injured so are you.
The ability to Will Death is mentioned by Princess Leia in Star Wars Journals, Captive to Evil by “Princess Leia” (actually Jude Watson). It was published in 1998. She considers doing so in order to avoid breaking under torture and giving the Imperials the rebel base. She was apparently taught this as part of her royal training. Padmé was elected royalty, once Queen Amidala of Naboo. It’s hardly a stretch to think she may have had similar training.
* Some expanded universe authors tried to claim that the strangulation killed her, to get around the broken heart theory. But this makes no sense since Obi-Wan would’ve told the medical droid she had been strangled. The droid specified they had repaired the damage and that they couldn’t detect a cause of death. This lends more credence to the life bond (which technology can’t detect) or the ‘will to live’ theories.