When Grief Gets Physical
“Grief is not a disorder, a disease or sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.” – Earl Grollman
Losing a loved one is an emotionally painful experience that can have a real effect on the mind and body.
The best way to understand how grief can affect your health is to understand what bereavement entails: one, a major stressor; and two, loss of a close relationship. Close relationships help regulate our daily psychological and physical functioning. Their loss often leaves people feeling out of control and disoriented. Combined, it’s easy to see how grief can take a serious toll on our health. If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, here are some of the most common physical symptoms to watch for:
- Fatigue. One of the most common early symptoms of grief is extreme tiredness that makes even routine tasks difficult. You may feel run down, exhausted and weak.
- Difficulty thinking clearly. The cognitive effects of grief can interfere with the ability to think clearly, to make decisions and judgments, and solve problems. Studies have associated bereavement with poorer memory performance and trouble concentrating.
- Heart health and immunity decline. The emotional impact of grief is often described as “heartache” but the release of stress hormones associated with grief can cause actual cardiac problems. Stress affects the cardiovascular and immune systems by over-activating both, and in vulnerable people this leads to increased rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer. British researchers found that people who are grieving are more likely to have weakened immune systems and develop infections.
- Appetite changes and digestive issues. Whether it’s significant increases or decreases, changes in appetite are normal with grief and many other life stressors. Even if your appetite is unchanged, you may experience feelings of nausea or other digestive issues that can come with grief and stress.
Grief is not an illness like the common cold, where you can expect to recover quickly and be as good as new in a few days. Dealing with grief is more like a marathon—it’s important to pace yourself and appreciate that your body is under stress. At this difficult time, practicing self-care is especially vital. If you need additional support, have questions, or just want someone to talk to about the grief you’re experiencing, please reach out to our caring team anytime.
About Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services: As a leading African American-owned and operated funeral and cremation organization serving three states, Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services has provided a ministry of care to thousands of grieving families. We promise to provide our highest level of distinguished service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. In all aspects of the funeral process, we strive to be the absolute best and are honored to help preserve our clients’ legacies for future generations. For more information, please call us at 215-549-4700 or visit our website.