Physical Effects You May Feel While Grieving

Exploring the Physical Symptoms of Grief

 

Grief doesn’t just impact your emotional wellbeing. The grieving process is also incredibly physical, and it’s not uncommon to feel pain and discomfort in your body. Understanding these symptoms and knowing which signs to look for can help you take care of your body as you heal.

 

From digestive woes to weight changes, here are five of the most common physical effects of grief.

 

1. Grief can cause heart problems

 

Extreme bouts of stress can impact your heart, but grief has an especially harsh impact on one of your most important organs. One study of heart attack survivors even found that attacks were more likely to occur shortly after a family member or close friend had passed away.

 

According to an article from CNN, “After analyzing the relative timing of each heart attack and bereavement, the researchers estimated that the risk of having an attack is 21 times higher in the 24 hours following a death than it is one to six months later.”

 

The risk does decline as time passes. However, researchers found that people who already had preexisting risk factors like high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol were more likely to suffer a heart attack when coping with grief.

 

2. While grieving, you may experience digestive woes

 

Your digestive tract is a sensitive ecosystem, so it’s not surprising that stomach troubles are frequently paired with grief. Loss of appetite, nausea and binge eating are among the most common issues faced by people who are grieving. Not surprisingly, these behaviors can also facilitate weight loss and/or gain.

 

Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to see when you aren’t eating well, which can help you be more proactive about both your mental and physical health. 

 

3. Grief can lead to energy loss

 

Moving through and processing grief is hard work. If you feel lethargic and exhausted, try to be gentle with yourself. And while it may sound counterintuitive, investing time in both emotional and physical self care is a great way to heal your body and heart.

 

If you don’t know where to start with self care, try one of these 15 Super Easy Self Care Activities

 

4. Lowered immunity can be another physical symptom of grief

 

Research dating back to the 1970s suggests that many people experience decreased immune system function after the loss of a loved one. That means people who are grieving can have an elevated risk of catching colds, getting the flu and more. 

 

5. Grief can make your body ache

 

Another common physical effect of grief is aches and pains throughout your body. Back pain, joint pain, headaches, stiffness and general soreness are all common side effects from the burden of grief. These aches and pains shouldn’t be long-lasting, though. If pain persists contact your doctor. 

 

If you can relate to these physical symptoms and are grieving a difficult loss, you may benefit from some outside help. Everyone processes grief differently, but if your symptoms persist and your wellbeing doesn’t improve, grief and loss counseling can teach you how to cope with the devastating loss you’ve experienced.