When we suffer grief and loss, we know there are tough times ahead mentally and emotionally but what we sometimes forget is the impact that grief can have on our bodies.
Your body holds all the emotions and memories of loss. You may have been caring for someone and not had time to care for yourself, you might be trying to be ‘strong’ for others or you may have even been avoiding your grief by keeping busy. No matter how resilient we make think we are, we all need time to rest, process and recover, even when we think we are doing this our bodies can be telling us a different story.
Types of physical reactions
Experiencing any of the following after a loss, and this can be any form of loss not just a bereavement, is your body telling you to slow down, look after yourself and allow yourself to grieve.
· Upset stomach
· Aches and pains
· Palpitations/racing heart
· Shortness of breath/feeling like you can’t breathe
· Changes in appetite
· Not being able to sleep
· Poor concentration
· Blurred vision
· Loss of feeling
· An ache like a longing to hold the person who has died
· Feelings and sensations after loss of a body part
· Getting sick more frequently
These symptoms of grief can be confusing and scary, you may think there is something physically wrong. For your peace of mind and to ensure that you are looking after yourself properly it is always best to talk to your GP, if you have any worries.
Here are some ways of looking after your body while you are grieving.
· Eat well, even if you are struggling to eat, a little of something is better than nothing. Comfort eating? Cut down on one thing you eat a lot of that isn’t healthy.
· The same for drinking, as tempting as it is to block out feelings with alcohol, drinking water is essential, having a soothing cup of tea or a milky coffee can be relaxing
· Physical exercise is great for releasing emotions but you don’t have to be going full pelt in the gym, just walking in a green space can help reduce stress and anxiety
· Be productive, getting one chore done, getting out of bed and making it or finishing a book you wanted to read. Small accomplishments and distractions can help
· Do nothing. This is not as easy as you might think especially if you have been ‘keeping busy’ but sometimes we just have to stop, lie in bed all day, take a long bath, turn off the phone and social media and just have time to ourselves.
· Learn to meditate. This might seem a bit new agey for some, impossible for others who don’t sit still but meditation and body scanning help to bring your body and mind back together and understand your physical reactions.
Remember we all grieve in our own way, there is no ‘right or wrong way’ and it isn’t a simple journey. Grieving a loss, no matter how trivial it may seem to others, is how we process our thoughts and emotions around that experience. Be kind to yourself, listen to your body and ask for help if you need it.