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How Your Body Processes Grief

More Than Just Emotional Pain: Grief Hurts

Have you ever grieved so hard you could actually feel your heart ache.  It is amazing how emotional pain can be physically painful. A deep ache in your heart and throughout your body that makes you want to curl up in a ball and cry.  


Broken Heart Syndrome is Real

 Grief can alter the heart muscle so much that it creates “broken heart syndrome” which is a heart disease that has symptoms matching a heart attack. In addition to the actual heart disease grief can cause there is a long list of other ways that grief manifests physically in one’s body. 


Research shows that emotional pain activates the same region of the brain as physical pain.

Here are some areas that you may feel that grief manifest in your body.


  1. Headaches
  2. Chest Pain
  3. Shortened Breathe
  4. Stomach pain
  5. Decreased appetite
  6. Dry mouth
  7. Fatigue


(Make sure to seek medical attention if you are experiencing these symptoms especially chest pain or shortened breathe)


According to webmd grief can create inflammation which can create new health problems or make old ones worse. “Grief batters the immune system”, leaving you depleted and vulnerable to infection. Has the ability to create high blood pressure and put you at risk of blood clots. 


How you deal with your grief can play a role in how it in turn affects your body. 

Denial is a “normal” part of grieving but when it turns into avoidance of truth it can turn into rumination. Rumination or repetitive negative thoughts is a way people use to avoid the real problems by focusing on all the negatives. According to research out of Utretch University, “Rumination and other forms of avoidance demand energy and block the natural ability to heal”


Grief Support is more than emotional.

When you or a loved one is grieving the emotional aspect is obvious. You will feel sad, you will experience a variety of emotions and pass through many of the “stages of grief”. That pain in your back when you roll out of bed, maybe it’s a headache that always seems to appear before the day is over.  Emotional pain manifest physically. Now that we know it happens we must be prepared to take care of ourselves to stay healthy.  

Support Systems to protect your health

The most important piece of healing from grief in a healthy way is to stay connected to loved ones. Find others who have been where you been. Join  grief support groups, have real conversations with trusted loved ones. The more that you can process and release your emotional pain the less likely it will have a long term effect on your physical health.


1 Comment

  • Roberta Posted July 8, 2021 7:48 pm

    Just a note: I think you need an “s” either behind “pain” or “manifest” to make this statement be grammatically correct: [it currently reads: “Emotional pain manifest physically.”]

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