Feelings of Grief – Yes, They Can Be Physical

Woman on Couch Holding her Temple

We are all aware of the emotions that come hand in hand with loss – sadness, fear, denial, anger. But what about the physical impacts of grief? They are real and can feel quite debilitating at first. In most cases, these physical effects will diminish as you move through the grieving process, often sooner than the emotions subside. If they are severe, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.

Flu-like Symptoms: Those who are grieving may experience symptoms like the flu. Headaches, muscle aches and pains and exhaustion can take over your body. Grief attacks your immunity system making you more susceptible to infections.

Broken Heart Syndrome: This is real. Your heart can swell, your blood pressure and your heart rate increase. It’s important to watch these symptoms carefully and act when they are severe enough for concern. These symptoms most often reverse themselves after the initial acute period of grief.

Loss of Appetite and Inability to Sleep: Good eating and sleeping habits help keep you healthy, but suffering from loss can affect these two basic human needs. Your senses, such as taste, can also be diminished, making eating simply not appealing.

Numbness: This is the most intense and immediate reaction to the acute stage of grief. It wears off gradually but can be extremely impactful initially. Suppressing feelings does not help in this case or in overcoming grief overall. Time and processing the loss are the only remedies.

Grief immediately sends the body into stress mode. It is important to understand that these symptoms are real. There are ways to help ease the physical aspects of grief.

  1. Get plenty of exercise. Physical activity shared with someone provides social contact and is extremely beneficial.
  2. Maintain good eating habits. Try to eat healthy foods, avoiding snacks and sugar. Fruits, vegetables, and protein sources should be on your list.
  3. Find something you like to do and engage. Keeping busy and spending time with others can be the best medicine.