The Physical Symptoms of Grief

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As we go through and beyond funerals at Trotwood, OH funeral homes, grief is a constant companion. The full measure of grief doesn’t really descend until we’re alone with our thoughts and a different, unknown future ahead instead of the one we planned with our loved ones.

Intense grief is mellowed over time by persistent grief which morphs, with more time, into situational grief. Regardless of what kind of grief we are experiencing, there is a way in which the grief of losing someone you love never really goes away. Instead, it changes.

However, in the initial stages of grief, we are experiencing a traumatic loss and grief creates traumatic effects on our mind – confusion – and on our bodies – pain.

One physical symptom of grief is sleep issues and fatigue. Grieving stresses us out, and it produces excess levels of cortisol, which is the body’s stress hormone. Sustained high levels of cortisol create constant fatigue.

Grief also interrupts sleep or causes insomnia. The lack of good, quality sleep leads to physical exhaustion, which makes it more difficult to deal with our emotions. This can create an endless cycle of extreme stress and weariness.

The best way to counteract this physical symptom is to take action to bring stress levels down – get active with daily exercise and things that make you feel positive, like art or volunteering or taking a class you’ve always wanted to take – so that cortisol is lowered to a normal level.

Grief can create physical pains and aches, because they are a natural side effect of stress and fatigue. The body is not getting what it needs to feel good, so aches and pains start cropping up out of nowhere.

Additionally, stress causes muscles to involuntarily tense up – ever caught yourself in a stressful situation with your jaw locked tight and then later the jaw muscle was achy? – and that can cause muscle aches. Stress, or tension, headaches are also very common with people who are going through the grieving process.

To lower stress levels, consider limiting caffeine and alcohol intake to give the body a chance to relax and to eliminate tension pains. However, if the pain persists, seek medical care from your doctor.

Another very common physical manifestation of grief is shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. Since this may be related to cardiac issues, you should definitely seek medical help. If heart problems are ruled out, then what you’re experiencing is an anxiety, or panic, attack.

Anxiety is the most overlooked and under-recognized part of the grieving process. Anxiety can feel like you’re having a heart attack, because your heart pounds, your chest feels tight, and you may feel like you can’t breathe. What happens when we’re experiencing anxiety is that the whole body tenses up and that’s why these symptoms are associated with anxiety.

Anxiety is usually not a constant state, but one that pops up, seemingly out of nowhere, from time to time. There are concrete ways to decrease levels of anxiety, which may include counseling and medical help.

A final physical symptom of grief may be changes in appetite. Some people practically stop eating when they’re under stress, which is the underlying emotion of grief, while other can’t stop eating when they are experiencing tremendous stress. Talk with your medical provider or a nutritionist about steps that can be taken to get back into healthy eating patterns.

For information about grief resources at Trotwood, OH funeral homes, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Glickler Funeral Home & Cremation Service is here to assist you. You can visit our funeral home at 1849 Salem Ave., Dayton, OH 45406, or you can call us today at (937) 278-4287.

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