grief_physical_signs_Mamashealth

You probably don’t think about the way your body feels when you’re grieving, but it goes far beyond sadness and despair.

Grieving is an individual and prolonged event which can take an immense toll on the human body. It is normal for grieving individuals to be focused on their emotions as they learn to live with their loss. It is important that these individuals are monitored for any signs of physical illness or deterioration. Grief doesn’t just impact your feelings, but can affect your body in surprising ways such as anxiety and insomnia.

Individuals who are in the grieving process are more susceptible to illness and disease than their peers. When an individual suffers a major loss or shock, the autonomic nervous system goes into stress mode, more commonly known as “flight or fight.” Steroids are produced at higher levels which increase the heart rate and blood pressure. This is a normal response to stress. However, the grief process is not short or brief. When this surge of steroids is prolonged indefinitely, it can diminish one’s health.

While this nervous activity is occurring inside the body, the grieving individual may show signs of lethargy and tiredness. Individuals may be unable to sleep, or have sleep disruption. They may experience shortness of breath, loss of appetite, irritability, and headaches.

Prolonged stress to the nervous system greatly impacts the immune system. It can cause a major decrease in the body’s ability to fight infection. Grieving individuals are more prone to colds and contracting minor illnesses. A grieving individual may find that any pre-existing health conditions they have may go awry. It is important to schedule routine medical checkups during this time.

It is important that grieving individuals have a support system who can step in and urge them to seek medical treatment, if necessary.

While each individual grieves in their own way, below is a list of physical conditions which may occur:

  • crying/weeping
  • upset stomach
  • loss of appetite
  • dry mouth
  • easily startled
  • sighing
  • sleep disturbances
  • anxiety
  • tightness in chest
  • breathlessness
  • high blood pressure
  • heart palpitations
  • lowered immune system
  • fatigue
  • missed menstrual cycle
  • complications to pre-existing health conditions
  • weight loss

Resources

Parents of Murdered Children

Parents of Murdered children offers  emotional support, education, prevention, advocacy, and awareness.

VictimConnect

The VictimConnect Resource Center is a referral helpline where crime victims can learn about their rights and options confidentially and compassionately.

Office for Victims of Crime, Directory of Crime Victim Services

The Directory of Crime Victim Services helps crime victims and service providers find nonemergency crime victim service agency.

Identity Theft Resource Center

The Identity Theft Resource Center helps victims of identity theft resolve their cases. It also provides education and awareness about identity theft, data breaches, cyber security, scams/fraud and privacy issues.