Can grief cause physical pain?
Posted on 15th June 2020 at 16:40
Are you suffering from the physical symptoms of grief? It's surprising how physical grief can be. Your heart can literally ache. A memory can cause your stomach to tighten or a send a shiver down your spine. Some nights, your mind might race, causing your heart to race along with it, filling your body with energy that means you can hardly sleep. On other nights you might be so exhausted that you fall asleep immediately and still manage to wake up the next morning feeling shattered.
Stress is the bridge between emotional and physical symptoms
Stress links the emotional and physical aspects of grief. The systems in the body that process physical and emotional stress overlap, and emotional stress can activate the nervous system as easily as physical threats can. When stress becomes too much, increased adrenaline, cortisol and blood pressure can lead to medical conditions.
Research shows that emotional pain activates the same regions of the brain as physical pain. This might be why painkilling drugs ranging from opioids to Tylenol have been shown to ease emotional pain.
Our bodies are designed to process rather than store things. We consume and process food to create energy and to fuel our various organs. If we consume more food than necessary, our body stores it as fat. Too much of this fat storage can have negative consequences for our overall health. Likewise, the body is designed to process our emotional experiences. If we suppress, store, and mask those emotions deep inside, this can result in negative consequences for our general health as well.
The consequences of holding onto sad emotions
When we continually bury these feelings of emotional pain deep down, rather than putting a voice to them, our body sends us signals that it’s not happy. Some people get headaches, while other people can respond with intestinal problems and ulcers. Normal responses to emotional stress can also include an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and high blood pressure.
By recognising that these are normal responses to suppressed emotional feelings, the best treatment plan can be followed. The Grief Recovery Method is an evidence-based effective action plan for dealing with the emotional pain of loss.
If you suffer with any of the problems outlined and you’re suffering most with these problems at the times you are dealing with a grief in your life, maybe it’s time to find out how you can release the pain. Taking effective Grief Recovery action doesn’t only help you to feel better emotionally, but can help physically as well.
When Grief Actually Hurts – Jill’s Story
Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist, Jill Attree experienced physical pain over a long period of time. This pain started in 2005 and carried on until 2018. She was tired all the time and suffered from headaches.
Jill had one headache that was so severe she was hospitalised for four days. She lost coordination and strength and had no energy. After numerous tests, a lumber puncture and rest, they couldn’t find anything wrong and Jill was sent home. She was so weak she couldn’t even hold a saucepan of vegetables. By this time, Jill was concerned enough to find her life insurance paperwork to see if she was covered for loss of income.
Jill kept going back to see her GP, who thought she may have fibromyalgia. The condition wasn’t really known about at the time, and Jill was referred to a specialist. She had awful physical symptoms, including being cold down one arm, and had pain around her pressure points. By this time, Jill was on steroids and Amitriptyline for fibromyalgia. While the medication helped with sleep, Jill still had immense tiredness. This carried on for years. Even when she came off the medication, she still didn’t feel well.
Jill didn’t recognise that her symptoms were a consequence of loss. It was only when she worked out her grief through going through Grief Recovery that her health totally changed. She had the space to reflect and gained a new positive energy. The lift was quite huge and made a massive difference to her health and her life.
How we can help
If you recognise this in yourself and think you may be suffering from the pain of grief, we can help. By taking the Grief Recovery action steps, you too could experience a change in your health and mental wellbeing. Grief Recovery is not a magic cure but sometimes people experience an immediate change in themselves. Others don’t feel the recovery effect until a little while after they have finished the programme. Most people come away with the tools to deal with death, divorce, pet loss, moving, and other losses for the rest of their lives.
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2. Be present
5. Say goodbye
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Tagged as: Invisible Losses, Loss of child, Loss of parent, Loss of partner, Mental Health, What is Grief Recovery?
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