New grievers are shocked to discover what a physical experience loss can be. Grief is very much felt in the body—we feel pain in our chest and/or gut, and headaches are common. We feel a lump in our throats, and sigh often. We either can’t sleep, or sleep too much—the same is true of our appetites—we either gain weight from comfort eating or lose weight because we lose our interest in food. Studies show that during grief, our immune systems are functioning below par.
It is not uncommon for the bereft person to have a period of time when they experience symptoms similar to whatever their loved one died from.
It goes without saying that self medicating with drugs and/or alcohol to try to cope is not only hurting your body, but also interfering with the grieving process. In cases of acute grief, prescription medication from a licensed professional can be helpful.
Because grief can be such a physical experience, it is important to take care of your physical health during bereavement. Good nutrition, enough sleep, and frequent exercise support well being. Many people find yoga, reiki, and massage helpful. Simply walking in nature can be comforting, and reminds us that we are part of something larger than ourselves.