1st May 2022
When we talk about grief, it is generally understood as a strictly mental process – something that affects the mind and one’s emotions in a big way. And while this is of course true, it also ignores the crucial fact – one ignored by many – that the mind and body are inextricably linked. Being overly stressed or depressed will end up expressing itself in the body, and any physical issues will naturally lead to one feeling worse about themselves. And when it comes to grief, there are a number of physical signs that can emerge. This blog post walks you through three of the main ones that I have noticed during my time as a bereavement counsellor in Harrogate and online.
Appetite and Digestion
At times of high stress, your appetite. You may not feel like eating anything in the aftermath of someone dying; swallowing itself may seem difficult. It could be that you eat more than usual, or only eat a specific kind of comfort food. This is perfectly normal, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for any changes in your eating habits. Your digestive tract can also be particularly sensitive during this time. You might feel slightly queasy, blocked up, or experience some issues commonly associated with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
Aches and Pains
Grief can occasionally cause issues like back pain, headaches, stiffness, or joint pain. This discomfort comes from the higher-than-usual amount of stress hormones being released into your body in the wake of someone dying or experiencing a considerable loss of another kind. In a similar way to ‘broken heart syndrome’, stress hormones directly act on the body, and it is a normal occurrence in the period after losing someone.
Having trouble with sleep is an extremely common occurrence after someone dies. Sleep is a time for your mind and body to rest and repair themselves, but if your mind is constantly weighed down by stress and spiralling thoughts, it can be hard to properly switch off. I have worked with a number of people who fear going to sleep, for fear of having nightmares or dreams that the person who died is still alive. Grieving often leads to people being both stressed and exhausted at the same time, which is a debilitating feeling – but one that does pass.
Are you experiencing any of the above physical signs following the death of a loved one? If so, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me to arrange bereavement counselling in Harrogate and online.