Recognize the Physical Effects of Grief

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Recognize the Physical Effects of Grief

The death of a loved one can affect you in many ways. For example, you are very aware of your emotional reactions such as sadness, loneliness, anger or guilt. While experiencing these feelings, however, you may fail to recognize the physical symptoms of grief.

Often, these symptoms are the side effects of stress. While many of them are normal, if they persist for more than a couple of months or impair your ability to function for long periods, you should contact your physician.

Some normal physical symptoms of grief may include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Withdrawal
  • Sleeplessness or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite or eating too much
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Forgetfulness
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Confusion
  • Numbness
  • Racing heart
  • Shortness of breath
  • Panic and anxiety
  • Reduced immune system

Realize the importance of taking care of yourself. You cannot bring back your loved
one, but you do have control over your physical well-being.

  • Do not neglect your body. The healthier you are physically, the better you will be able to cope emotionally. If you have existing health problems, see your doctor to monitor your condition. Make sure that stress does not cause problems. Eat properly and get enough rest and exercise.
  • Maintain your daily routines. Make lists to help you remember what you need to do.
  • Seek out family members, friends or your pastor to help you through the difficult times. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. Support groups are available in most areas. Check with your local hospice, hospitals or churches for grief support groups.
  • Allow yourself time to remember. Although memories of your loved one may be painful to recall, you may find that, in time, they will bring a sense of comfort.
  • Take a break from your grief and do something you enjoy. Finding a moment of joy does not mean you are disloyal to the memory of your loved one.
  • Learn some relaxation techniques.
  • If you have trouble concentrating, take extra precautions if you must drive.

— Adapted from an article by Nancy E. Crump, M.S., Certified Grief Counselor