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Body Positive Works Holistic Wellness & Health Blog

The Effects of Grief on the Body

Last Updated: December 11, 2023

If you are someone who has experienced the loss of a loved one or knows someone who has experienced this, you know that it can grief can make it feel impossible to do daily tasks and think that things can get better. Although people grieve differently, the effects that grief can have on your mental and physical well-being and health can be common among people that grieve. 

Although not always the most recognizable, grief isn’t just in your head, it shows up in your body too. With the high amount of stress that comes with grieving, it can be common to see an increase in blood pressure. This can contribute to a lot of medical conditions, which is why it is really important to be proactive about how you take care of yourself during a time like this. 

Another physical effect of grief is an increase in inflammation, which can cause and worsen health problems and depletes the immune system. Experiencing that type of heartbreak and trauma is real, and your heart literally aches, which is why seeing someone manage stress and help you work through the process is extremely important to processing and finding your meaning and path in life again. 

Your mind and body are more connected than you may think, so when you experience things like 

  • Headaches
  • Dry Mouth 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue 
  • Stomach pain
  • Chest pain 

It isn’t just a coincidence. When your sense of self and meaning is shaken up, your physical health takes a shaking too. It can be hard to make life work again after a close family member dies. Losing a partner can mean having to move out of a shared home or having to reach out to other loved ones for help, which can further increase emotional stress and worry. Strobe says the stress of adjusting to changes in life and health during and after a loss can “increase vulnerability and reduce adaptive reserves for coping with bereavement.”

But, know that when grieving, there is no quick fix. Sometimes, leaning into it, understanding that you are grieving, and working on yourself can be extremely beneficial. You only get to grieve your loved one once, so making sure to process is so important. Don’t spend the whole time trying to distract yourself or push it down. It does get better, and you will miss feeling that connected to that person again. And if you feel like your whole life has fallen apart, that’s fine! It may have. Now you get to decide how to put yourself back together. Be creative. There’s new life to be lived all around you. 

How can I help myself though? What can I do to combat these physical setbacks? One of the most obvious is therapy, support groups, and counseling, but there are other ways that your mind may be able to clear and help itself. 

Spending time outside can be extremely therapeutic. The sun helps you feel that boost of energy you may need. Another amazing thing that can help one feel better and physically be better is exercise, whether it’s a walk, run, etc, spending that time and dedicating time to yourself is a really great way to feel better and help your physical health. Not only this but having something that you can control in a situation where you cannot control a lot can be really helpful. 

At Body Positive Works, we offer support in so many different ways, as you experience, grieve, and ultimately find meaning. Some of the ways that we help with grief are: