The body always talks. Our bodies are our alarm system to something not being right. And, when experiencing grief, our bodies definitely talk to us. When we are feeling anxious or worried, our minds often swirl the same thought patterns over and over. In response, our bodies reply to those thought patterns. For every person, the symptoms will present differently, however, may be similar as well.
Common Physical Grief Symptoms
Since I started grief recovery work, there have been similarities in symptoms that clients have shared with me that were like my own. For example, when I had my “mid-life unraveling,” I was experiencing overall body aches, hair loss, weight loss, stomach/gut issues (often with bloat), fatigue, etc.. After going down numerous rabbit holes with my doctor, what came of all of that was that my body was “Epstein-Barr Reactive.” Meaning, the mono virus was reactivated in my body, however, blood work was showing that I did not have mono. Also, around those years, I ended up having three colon polyps removed.
Grief manifests in our bodies; no doubt about it. And, because most of us will not identify ourselves as grievers, we suffer from what we believe are “medical mysteries” with no explanation, and, begin to feel a little crazy in the process. Also, “traditional” doctors are not going to ask you about your emotional state, are they? They’re not going to ask you about your “loss history,” are they? So, the mind-body connection is rarely (if ever) made in a traditional doctor’s office, even though boat-loads of medical research point to how our minds and bodies are connected in amazing, brilliant ways.
The disconnect comes where our ego is. The disconnect comes from our inability to get out of our minds and into our hearts. And, there’s this assistance of resistance to that which is painful and traumatic. We simply don’t want to “re-live” or “re-hash” what we’ve experienced. I often hear this from those who are not ready to dig deep and work through the muck. And hey, that was me, too, for a very (very) long time. But, if you would be honest with yourself (as I wish I would have been years earlier), you would see that not “re-hashing” and sitting in the muck, is only keeping you stuck in various areas of your life, negatively impacting your health and relationships, and probably taking years off of your life.
That which we don’t acknowledge (or refuse to) festers like a sore that won’t heal. And, over time, we tend to pick at the scab. However, when we’ve picked just a bit too much and it starts to sting a bit; we retreat, pull back, and leave it well enough alone. Because picking away any more is just plain painful.
A Car Analogy
Over the past five years, I have learned a lot about how my body responds to stressors. I’ve learned what I need to feel recharged, not depleted, and balanced. It’s still something I am working towards because, kids, life, work, side -hustle all require mental, emotional, and physical energy. If we think of our bodies as a fuel tank, we start to think more about our bodies as the cars we drive. We take our cars in for oil changes, tune-up’s, balance the tires, keep the fluids filled, etc.. However, this same common sense care and maintenance goes out the window when we think about ourselves and self-care. We take better care of our autos than we do our one body that we don’t get a re-do with; we can’t trade our one body in for another newer, better-equipped model. Nope, one shot – one life.
So, just as we take great care in ensuring our automobile lasts for the long-haul, so too, we need to consider how we’re taking care of ourselves for the long-haul. What is your heart needing? What is your mind fighting your heart against today?
I recently heard a pretty probing question posed by the author Hal Elrod who wrote the book Miracle Morning on a podcast episode. He said: “Is my life a reflection of who I want to be or a reaction to those who I don’t want to upset?” I bring this question up because often it is our relationships with the living that often cause us the most grief. And, this grief manifests in our bodies. What we hold in, emotionally, will always come out in one of two ways; we either implode (health issues) or we explode (emotional outbursts/anger/relationship problems/etc.). If you answer that question and, you’re walking through life on eggshells; reacting to life and attempting to not upset anyone, what do you think that this doing to your heart? What do you think that is doing to you emotionally? It likely feels like an emotional rollercoaster, filled with highs, lows, and a lot of stressors in-between. And, we all know what stress does to us – mentally, emotionally, and physically, right?
Heart vs Mind
My body responds to stress with increased heart rate, negatively impacted sleep (even if I don’t realize it), dry mouth, burning sensation between my shoulder blades (where my tension goes), anxiousness, lack of concentration, an inability to focus, and gut symptoms. I know this now about myself. I didn’t understand this over five years ago. And, that is why I believe I was led to grief recovery and energy healing. My body knew exactly what I needed. My mind (ego), however, was the one holding me back, pulling the strings, and keeping me stuck.
Where are you feeling your emotions in your body? I encourage you to consider that grief may be the cause of your physical symptoms. Whether it be high blood pressure, an ulcer, body aches, fatigue, etc., consider that it may be grief. Reflect on the losses you’ve endured in your life that involve both the death of a loved one and the losses that don’t.
- Have you lost trust in someone you deeply cared about?
- Have you felt betrayed in your life?
- Have you experienced financial ruin?
- Lost your home in uncontrollable circumstances?
- Suffered estrangement as a child (from a parent) or as an adult (in relationships)?
- Has your life been a downward spiral of loss of health?
- Are you a caregiver to someone who is terminally ill, cognitively declining, or is cognitively delayed?
- Have you survived a physical attack or accident?
- Have you had many accidents throughout your life, which often occur as a result of the cognitive consequences of grief (an inability to concentrate/focus)?
All of these situations (and many more) create grief in our lives that also manifest in our bodies. The body knows. And, our one body is always talking to us. I have become so attuned to this connection that I can often look at someone and, I know something is up. Both our body language, and our physical appearance tell a story without us having to say a word. We often wear our life stories like the clothes on our backs without us even realizing it. Kids are no different. The energy that surrounds us, and we take with us out into the world, tells the story.
Heal the story, and you begin to heal the body.
P.S. Do you have a child with a story that needs healing but you’re not sure how to help them? I am looking for 8 participants for an upcoming 4-week, online group program, Helping Children with Loss. We will meet on Zoom for one session per week for 4 weeks for approximately 2 1/2 hours, in the evening (day/time TBD and flexible). This is not a program for you, rather it is a program for you to learn tools and communication skills in how to help the child/children in your care work through and process loss. And, considering Covid-19 has touched every single one of us, there is no denying children need this, even if you think they’re doing just fine. Prior to Covid-19, has a loved one or a pet died? Maybe during Covid-19, a loved one died and they didn’t get to say goodbye? There is plenty of grief to go around these days and this program is prevention. I encourage you to consider it and get in touch with me via email to [email protected] The first group will be offered at a discount!
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