The Physical Effects of Grief & How to Deal with Them
“Grief is love.” – David Kessler
If you've recently experienced the passing of a loved one, you're well aware of the impact grief has on your quality of life.
There’s simply no way to anticipate what grief feels like. It’s one of those experiences that you can describe to someone but it’s impossible to truly understand it until you have to deal with it yourself. Most people foresee the emotional rollercoaster that comes with grief, but grief doesn’t just manifest as emotional symptoms, it also involves physical symptoms. They can be frustrating and even frightening, but they’re normal. Here are some common physical grief symptoms along with helpful tips for managing them:
You may feel run down or exhausted all the time. Ironically, when you try to sleep you may not be able to, only worsening your fatigue. Or maybe you’re getting plenty of sleep but it’s not restful due to the constant emotional strain. *Tip: Make sure your sleeping quarters are actually focused on sleeping. For starters, this includes blocking out as much light as possible at night, using earplugs and/or an eye mask, keeping the temperature between 66-70 degrees and leaving your cell phone in another room.
The most common source of headaches is stress and grief is one huge stressor. The constant tension that comes with grief can be a source of chronic headaches. *Tip: Often, muscle tension is the source of grief-induced headaches, so you need to find a way to relax. Take a walk in the park or get a massage. You might listen to soothing music or read a book. Find out what activity relaxes you and do more of it.
Body aches and pains.
It’s not uncommon for people to describe generalized muscle aches when grieving. You are experiencing the weight of a constant stress, you are fatigued, you may not be sleeping, and your body is tense. *Tip: Work on body relaxation. Things like meditation, massages, and stretching can be helpful. Avoid self-medicating with drugs and alcohol when physical pain is increased, and instead consider alternative therapies like acupuncture, biofeedback, and talk therapy.
Tightness in the chest.
This can be associated with cardiac issues, so be sure to see a doctor if it’s severe or chronic. But a more generalized sense of tightness or shortness of breath can come with anxiety, a common grief reaction. *Tip: Check out tips for coping with anxiety in grief, as well as some general relaxation approaches like meditation and deep breathing exercises.
When you're bereaved, it's easy to discount or ignore these symptoms altogether. That’s not a good idea because disregarding your physical symptoms of grief will inevitably lengthen your bereavement. If you have questions or need additional help dealing with your symptoms of grief, please reach out to us anytime. We’re always here for you.
About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.