Grief is a natural response to loss. It is most commonly associated with the loss of a loved one, and it’s one of the biggest challenges anyone can face. Grief may be amplified if the death was unexpected and the result of negligence. It’s important for people to know that there is no timetable for grieving. It is a highly individualized process. While some people may start to feel better in weeks or months, other people measure their grief in years.
While grieving is typically thought to be an internal process, there are external effects. Grief can cause physical pain. If you’ve recently lost someone and are experiencing a variety of physical symptoms, you’re not alone. Understanding how grief affects the body can help you cope with what you’re experiencing.
The Relationship Between Grief and Physical Pain
While there’s not a specific series of symptoms a grieving person is going to experience, grief does cause physical pain. According to Harvard Medical School, everyone experiences grief differently, which is why there’s no exact way to determine what a person will feel. But, common physical symptoms of grief include:
- Fatigue. Someone who is experiencing grief is likely to be fatigued. They may feel exhausted constantly or run down. The emotions they’re experiencing in addition to the tasks that need to be done after a loved one has died is a lot to manage. Trying to sleep may also be difficult, which can exacerbate the problem.
- Aches and Pains. Back pain, joint pain, muscles aches, and stiffness are a symptom of grief. Headaches are also common. This is because of the amount of stress hormones that are released when someone is grieving.
- Inability to Focus. Under stress, people are more likely to be distracted and forgetful. Because grief is a serious form of stress, people are likely to zone out in everyday situations, become forgetful, and feel out of place.
- Digestive Issues. The digestive tract is sensitive to immense stress. Some people may completely lose their appetite and experience nausea. As a result, they could start to lose weight. Others may take comfort in food and start to gain weight. Irritable bowel syndrome can also develop.
- Lowered Immunity. Grief takes a toll on the immune system. From a scientific standpoint, the body stops maintaining stress hormone balance when a person is experiencing tremendous grief. As a result, reduced neutrophil function occurs. This means that the person, older adults especially, are less likely to produce some types of white blood cells. This leaves them prone to infection.
- Heart Problems. It’s suggested that the death of a loved one increases a person’s chance of a heart attack. There is a temporary, rare syndrome 100 in one million grievers experience called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or “broken heart syndrome.” This causes a disruption in the blood being pumped to one section of the heart. It mimics the effects of a heart attack. While treatment is available, the condition can reverse itself in a few weeks.
Coping with the Physical Effects of Grief
There are no quick fixes for dealing with the loss of a loved one. But there are steps that individuals can take to make the coping process easier. The first step is to understand that grief is normal. The intense pain, sadness, disbelief, or even guilt is not unusual. It’s important to allow yourself the opportunity to mourn. Grieving outwardly helps you accept the loss and it will give you the opportunity to grieve with others who are dealing with the loss.
Grief is unpredictable. There are no distinct phases, so it’s important to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. Going along with that, it’s a good idea to refrain from making any major decision while grieving. If possible, postpone major decisions like moving, taking a new job, or making financial changes.
Overall, it’s important to take care of yourself. Do what you can to eat as regularly as possible. Sleep may be difficult, but even if you have the ability to take naps throughout the day, that will make you feel better. Be mindful of your daily habits and wellbeing. If you notice any serious decline in your health, seek attention from a healthcare professional. A medical or mental health doctor can determine if any treatments are necessary.
Compensation for Noneconomic Wrongful Death Losses
If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident that was caused by the negligent actions of another, you can seek compensation for the losses associated with your loved one’s death. While economic damages serve to take care of medical expenses and the cost of a funeral and burial, you can recover compensation for your suffering. Noneconomic damages include mental anguish, loss of love or companionship, loss of consortium, and loss of care, protection, or guidance. It can be challenging to place a value on noneconomic damages, which it’s why it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer.
If you’re ready to take legal action on behalf of your loved one, schedule a free consultation with us today. We’ll walk you through the wrongful death litigation process and help you take steps toward securing your family’s future.