When Grief Becomes Physical: How Loss Impacts Our Health | Health Eagle

When Grief Becomes Physical: How Loss Impacts Our Health

by Editorial Team January 15th, 2019 | Common Conditions
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The death of a loved one is one of the most common yet adverse life events as we grow older. Those words by G.A. Bonanno will always ring true and will always justify why people care so much about staying as healthy as possible. A common misconception is that grief has mostly to do with emotion rather than an actual physical issue. The truth of the matter is that grief can have a severe impact on the physical state of a person.

A Literal Broken Heart

Beyond familial relationships, romantic relationships have the most significant impact on our lives. This is why when a spouse or romantic partner dies, we feel their loss intensely and our physical health suffers significantly, too. A scientific study conducted in 2018 found after six months of losing a spouse a widow/widower is at 41% increased risk of mortality. This was due to higher levels of different proinflammatory proteins in their blood that damage the ventricles of the heart. So yes, people can actually die from a broken heart.

Inability to Rest

Adults generally need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep based on the National Sleep Foundation. When people grieve, the extra stress disrupts the normal processes of the body like sleep. The inability to sleep further exacerbates the grief that the bereaved feels. In effect, they are unable to rest as they are too consumed with mourning. It’s a dangerous cycle that is truly detrimental to the prolonged health of a person. When a person does not get adequate rest they can suffer from different effects like impaired cognitive abilities, hair fall, and dry patchy skin.

Coping With Physical Health Effects

Scheduling a visit with a general practitioner to find out the extent of the physical ailments is one of the best things to do. A doctor can provide a clear breakdown of the different symptoms and potential effects of what the bereaved is experiencing. From there, the doctor can also give a prescription for medication should they think it’s needed. Getting a recommendation for a good therapist could also be on the cards. After all, if the mental and emotional aspect of grieving is not addressed there is a big chance the physical manifestation of grief will continue.

Grief is not something to rush, of course. Getting help from friends, family, and even professionals can help find a remedy to what the bereaved are going through. Being proactive about seeking help can make all the difference in recovering from loss.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.