The passing of a loved one is not only emotionally exhausting—but it can also wreak havoc on one’s physical health.
Due to higher quantities of the stress hormone cortisol as well as changes in adrenaline levels following the trauma of losing a loved one, grief can put a harmful strain on one’s cardiovascular system. A sudden emotional shock can result in what feels like a genuine “heartache” and chest tightness. Intense sensations of chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness may require medical intervention.
Experiencing “butterflies” in one’s stomach concerning grief may be an understatement. An inner emotional emptiness can give way to a physical sensation of emptiness in the gut that can cause or stem from a lack of appetite. Other digestive issues linked to grief may range from nausea, constipation, bloating, diarrhea, or even acid reflux and heartburn.
Despite being emotionally exhausted, a common physical symptom of grief is a disruption of one’s sleep schedule or even insomnia. An inability to achieve sufficient sleep can result in difficulty focusing one’s attention, brain fog, lowered energy levels, or headaches. Insufficient sleep can also impact one’s immune system from reacting appropriately to sicknesses.
Grief can bring about various physical sensations not otherwise felt included but not limited to a lump in one’s throat, dry mouth, sensitivity to light and sound, shakiness, etc.
Helping Relieve Unpleasant Sensations
While it is important to remain consciously vigilant against serious physical maladies, a mourner should note which symptoms arose as a result of emotional trauma to prevent bouts of health anxiety. In addition to understanding which sensations are likely to dissipate with time, there are several techniques and remedies to help manage or relieve many of the grief-induced feelings.
Though it likely feels like the last thing a grieving person wants to do, remaining physically active has been shown to increase one’s mood. A report published in the Journal of Happiness Studies claimed that even as little as 10 minutes of physical activity a week could increase happiness.
Many people suffer from the misconception that they are their thoughts. That means that any agonizing emotional thought that comes to mind assumes control of their very identity as long as it remains. Practitioners of Mindfulness Meditation say otherwise. Mindfulness Meditation is a practice that allows grief-stricken individuals to train their minds to realize when they’re being swept away by any thoughts—notions of sadness or otherwise. Mindfulness Meditation has been shown to help countless individuals reclaim control of their thoughts and emotions.
Writing down one’s emotions may feel like one of the last activities a grieving person would want to do. However, many grieving individuals claim that writing out their feelings has helped substantially in processing them. The process of journaling thoughts, emotions, and memories allows the brain to speak to itself in ways it usually would not. Even if no one ever reads the words of one’s journal, simply getting them out can significantly help mitigate emotions of grief and thereby their associated physical sensations.
Grief Professionals There When You Need Them
Serving more than hospice patients, the grief counselors from Cura HPC Hospice & Palliative Care in Tulsa, OK, serve the entire family through the dying process—preceding and following the loss of a loved one.