The Physical Symptoms Of Grief: When Pain Takes Tangible Form

Grief hurts. It shakes up your world with an intensity that can shatter any sense of balance into pieces. The world you once knew suddenly appears strikingly different, and you struggle to make sense of your surroundings and emotions. 

Of all the unimaginable and incomprehensible aspects of this moment, the physical symptoms of grief are often the least expected. People are often taken aback and surprised by the intensity of their emotions, but it is at least a form of reaction that they expect. Physical symptoms of grief, on the other hand, are often unanticipated. 

Grief is incredibly distressing for your mind and emotional state. But as you move forward, holding the grief within yourself, it also starts to make a home out of your body. The physical symptoms of grief and stress start manifesting in your body. Every single part of your body has a response to the immense emotional turmoil you are in. 

While coping with grief, the tendency to attribute these physical signs to something bigger heightens. Before this, a headache might just have been a headache. Now suddenly, the headache can be a sign of something bigger and more hazardous. In order to combat such negative thoughts, it is essential that we normalize these somatic responses so that people do not start panicking when they experience them while being on an emotional rollercoaster in the first place.

To help you get started, let us dive deeper into the physical symptoms of grief and how to deal with them. 

Physical Symptoms Of Grief

The Physical Symptoms Of Grief

1. Aches And Pains

There are multiple reasons why grief can cause heightened and more regular occurrences of aches and pains in your body. It could be a mix of tiredness, tensions that tighten up your muscles, lack of regular routines, and a deep sense of sadness that consumes your being. As per research by Mark Bradbeer, grief can worsen symptoms of physical pain in adults.

2. Fatigue

Grief can make you feel exhausted and run down all the time. You can feel tired and sleepy throughout the day. Ironically, you might find it extremely difficult to find sound sleep. Or maybe you can get plenty of sleep but still wake up feeling drained due to the constant emotional turmoil within you.

3. Digestive woes

Our digestive tracts are pretty sensitive and delicate ecosystems. Therefore, it is not surprising that the physical symptoms of grief can manifest into stomach problems. The most common digestive woes associated with grieving include:

  • loss of appetite,
  • binge-eating, and
  • nausea.

4. Shortness of breath and tightness in the chest

First things first, these symptoms are commonly associated with heart problems, and therefore, you should consult your doctor in case you are experiencing them.

In a different sense, tightness in your chest and shortness of breath are associated with anxiety due to bereavement.

5. Sleeping problems

Sleeping problems due to grief are extremely frustrating. Even though you feel tired and downright exhausted, getting sleep feels near impossible. Whenever you try to sleep, your thoughts creep up and go over them again and again. 

Read more: 101 How To Heal Emotional Pain

Coping With Physical Symptoms Of Grief 

If you are dealing with grief and its physical symptoms, these tips might come in handy.

1. Recognize that your pain is normal. 

Physical symptoms are a natural part of dealing with your grief. They do not signify that your process is wrong or strange. In fact, there is no set process to grieve. So when you have trouble falling asleep, appetite changes, lack of focus, and much more, know that it is normal. Try to remind yourself that this pain is a part of your healing process. 

2. Consider talking to your healthcare provider for help.

If you are worried about any of the physical sensations occurring in your body, it is okay to talk to your healthcare provider. They recommend medicines, exercises, or lifestyle changes to help you cope with these challenges better. 

Apart from this, you can also talk to a mental health professional who can help you deal with the emotional aspects of your grief.

Read more: Best Online Therapy Platforms 


Grief is difficult, challenging, and downright hurtful. It changes you. And it is okay if you cannot find any silver lining in this pain because sometimes there isn’t one. Sometimes it is just painful and heart-wrenching and nothing else. The emotional and physical symptoms can overpower your well-being. Therefore, in such difficult times, it is important that you take care of yourself. Try to approach yourself with kindness and compassion. The world might seem different and daunting right now. But eventually, you will get by, adjust, and find a way through to the other side. 

If you are looking for inspiration, here are the best healing quotes for you.

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