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Parents of 6 Die Within 48 Hours of Each Other: 'I Don't Think It Has Sunk in Yet,' the Aunt Says of the Orphaned Children

Parents of 6 Die Within 48 Hours of Each Other
The Norsworthy family
Jessi Norsworthy

05/03/2016 AT 01:35 PM EDT

Six children in Alabama lost both of their parents when tragedy struck twice in the same weekend.

Devoted mom Jennifer Norsworthy, 40, died unexpectedly in her sleep from a blood clot on April 22. Her husband Toby Norsworthy, 38, was so devastated that family members suspect the grief led to a deadly heart attack he suffered in his sleep less than 48 hours after his wife's death.

"He died the same weekend," says Toby's sister, Jessi Norsworthy, who immediately flew to be with her nieces and nephews (whose ages range from 5 to 20) in Unity, Alabama, after her brother's death on April 24. "I personally feel that losing [Jennifer] had a lot to do with him having a heart attack. The biggest factor was losing her."

Jessi says the couple was very active in their community – especially within their church – and they always put others first.

Parents of 6 Die Within 48 Hours of Each Other: 'I Don't Think It Has Sunk in Yet,' the Aunt Says of the Orphaned Children| Death, Kids & Family Life, Personal Tragedy, Good Deeds, Real People Stories

Toby and Jennifer's six children


"They were such a generous and loving and caring couple," Jessi tells PEOPLE of her brother Toby, a computer programmer, and Jennifer, a stay at home mom. "He loved his family and did everything for them."

After Jennifer died, Jessi says her brother's biggest priority was making sure his children were okay.

"When I spoke to him, he was just thinking of the kids," says Jessi. "He immediately called our parents and they drove from Michigan. They have been there since day one."

Jessi says that her brother didn't have any known health issues, and adds that while Jennifer had a history of blood clots, she hadn't had any issues for several years.

Parents of 6 Die Within 48 Hours of Each Other: 'I Don't Think It Has Sunk in Yet,' the Aunt Says of the Orphaned Children| Death, Kids & Family Life, Personal Tragedy, Good Deeds, Real People Stories

Toby and Jennifer's youngest daughter, Lainie

Jessi Norsworthy


The same responder answered both 911 calls, and Jennifer and Toby were both pronounced dead at the same hospital – where the same doctor and nurse worked on them.

Since their tragic and sudden passing, the entire family and community has focused on helping the couple's children. The three oldest kids – Quinten, 20, Riley, 17, and Bradley, 13 – are from Jennifer’s previous marriage. The three youngest are Mickey, 11, Aurora, 9, and Lainie, 6.

A GoFundMe page was set up by a family friend and has raised over $70,000.

"They all know that their parents are gone, but I don't think it has sunk in yet," Jessi says. "But they're going to be okay. They have all of us who won't leave their sides."

"We're all devastated but pushing forward because of the kids," she adds.
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