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What You May Not Know About Grief

August 30 is National Grief Awareness Day, created to raise awareness of the many ways in which individuals can cope with loss. If you have recently lost someone you love after a long illness, don’t navigate this difficult time on your own. Take advantage of bereavement services in Alameda and elsewhere that can take the form of anything from one-on-one counseling to support groups. There are many things you may already know about grief, but there are also some things you may not know. Here, we will explore some surprising things about the grieving process.

Grief Affects Our Bodies

On top of the myriad mental health issues grief can cause, there are many ways grief can manifest itself physically in our bodies. Some people carry that tension in their neck or shoulders, while others experience problems with digestion. Some lose weight or gain it. Either way, stress and grief can set up shop in many areas of your body. You may not realize the physical symptoms you’re having are related to grief until you see a doctor.

  • Aches and pains: These can be exacerbated by grief. While usually temporary, muscle and joint aches and pains are uncomfortable and can detract from the quality of your everyday life. From headaches to backaches, these pains are brought on by the release of stress hormones causing your muscles to contract, according to Better Up.
  • Impaired immune system: Those stress hormones are very strong and as a result can cause an imbalance in your other hormones. Your body releases fewer white blood cells, which play an important role in protecting you from infection. You may get sick more often when grieving.
  • Sleepless nights: This is a common symptom of grief. Difficulty sleeping on a regular basis can affect both physical and mental well-being.
  • Gut issues: Stress hormones can affect your gut health as well, resulting in a feeling of constantly being hungry or lacking an appetite. Nausea is another common side effect.
  • Over- and under-indulgence: Overeating, undereating, refusing food, and abusing substances will affect your body physically. You need sufficient nutrients to function at your best, so if you are drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, abusing substances or eating a poor diet, your body will rebel.

Anger is a Side Effect of Grief

While you may already know that sadness and guilt are common manifestations of grief, you may not realize that anger is a common one too. Being angry at someone who left you is nothing to feel guilty about. It’s normal. But it also has to be dealt with. Even when the loss was no one’s fault, it’s easy to feel angry and resentful — at yourself, at the doctors, at God, or even your loved one for abandoning you. It’s common to displace those feelings and put blame on someone else for the injustice that you feel, says HelpGuide.

There Are Different Types of Grief

There is no one way to grieve. Here are some of the types of grief you may go through.

  • Normal grief: This lasts between six months and years following the loss.
  • Absent grief: This is a complete void of grief as a response to loss — more common with cases of sudden loss. Denial and shock are the main indicators.
  • Anticipatory grief: This is what you feel before the actual loss even happens. You may feel this at the time of a terminal illness diagnosis, for instance. It’s common for caregivers to feel this type of grief over a terminally-ill loved one.
  • Delayed grief: This may not happen for a long time after the loss, sometimes triggered by a subsequent event or loss.
  • Complicated grief: This involves conflicting feelings for the loss, such as facing the death of an abusive partner or estranged parent.
  • Cumulative grief: This kind builds up over time and may come after a multitude of losses in a short period of time.
  • Distorted grief: This provokes an intense response from the person who is grieving, characterized by an intense emotional response coupled with hostile behavior.
  • Inhibited grief: This is when there is no sign of outward grief, whereby the person keeps themselves very busy or distracted. People can get stuck in this pattern for a very long time and is usually where physical manifestations of grief come into play.
  • Abbreviated grief: This passes quickly, as the person attempts to embrace a substitute to fill the void.
  • Chronic grief: This is when the grief is pervasive and lasts for many months or years following the loss, whereby the person has an extremely hard time overcoming their grief.
  • Collective grief: This is when an event causes whole communities and large groups to suffer. These events may include war, terrorist attacks, pandemics, and even the death of a beloved public figure.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

From grief counseling to memorial services, Pathways helps those who have recently experienced loss navigate the process of healing. Learn more about our bereavement services in Alameda and elsewhere when you contact us at 888-978-1306.