My grief is in my throat, my mom’s is in her stomach, and a friend’s is in his tooth. For other bereaved, grief has taken up residency in their hearts and they have experienced chest pains.
No doubt about it grief affects us physically. In a children’s grief activity book, the bereaved child is asked to color in on an outline of a body where they are experiencing pain. It is a way for the grief counselor to see where the child’s grief is located. You would be amazed to see that almost every part of the body has the potential to feel the impact of grief.
If you are not aware of or you do not understand the powerful physical impact of grief, you may be confused or frightened about these intense physical symptoms. It is important to know these feelings of pain stem from your grief. Doing your grief work (telling your story, feeling your feelings) will help alleviate these physical symptoms. It is not a quick fix, but rather a process; be patient and gentle with yourselves.
Immediately following the death of my father, I had what I thought was a sore throat. I ultimately realized that my throat muscles were constricting in response to my grief.
A friend who lost his father at a relatively young age felt an incredible ache in his tooth on the day of the funeral. He finally went to the dentist only to discover that his tooth was fine, it was just taking on the pain of his grief.
When my mom experiences moments of grief surrounding the death of my father, her stomach feels like it is on fire. It has nothing to do with eating spicy food or a digestive problem, it is her grief.
Many bereaved will visit a doctor’s office complaining of pain that is eventually diagnosed to stem from their grief.
Physical pain from grief is NORMAL and should not frighten you but if the pain you are experiencing is extreme and intolerable and does not pass, seek medical attention.
In due course your pain of grief will subside, if you practice self-care (eat healthy, get rest, exercise) and do your grief work (talk about your deceased loved one).
Take an inventory of your physical symptoms and see where your grief is located.