Symptoms of Grief

There are many things that we experience sadness over as we go through life. When we are faced with our own death or have a loved one who is dying; then, we experience grief. Grief as defined by dictionary.com “is a keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.”

Death is a natural part of life but when it touches our lives it brings such deep sorrow into our everyday existence that sometimes only time can heal our pain.

A Valuable Coping Mechanism

There are many symptoms our bodies and minds exhibit as an expression of our grief. The symptoms our bodies have are coping mechanisms that can lead us to a time of healing.

Each one of us will handle grief when it comes to us differently. There are however, common behaviors, emotions, and physical symptoms that are typically encountered along the journey from pain to healing.

No other event in life causes the depth of grief so much as when we experience the death of a loved one or our own imminent death. It is at these times that the symptoms of grief surround us and are undeniable.

The typical physical symptoms of grief such as those experienced when dealing with the death of someone loved are:

  • Periods of fatigue mixed periods of high energy or extreme alertness
  • Hearing or vision loss that is associated with “dissociation“.
  • Experiencing difficulty getting or staying asleep or one might experience the opposite and sleep too much
  • An increased or decreased appetite from what is normal for that person
  • Muscle tremors
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Rapid respirations or having difficulty breathing
  • Increased blood pressure or increased heart rate (pulse)
  • Problems with stomach pains or intestinal upset
  • Dizziness, fainting or feeling nauseous

The typical mental symptoms of grief such as those experienced when dealing with the death of someone loved are:

  • Confusion expressed by lapses in judgment, comprehension difficulties, difficulty concentrating or memory loss
  • Experiencing “intrusion” which is unwanted thoughts, nightmares or unwanted arousal
  • Intense feelings of detachment, denial of circumstances being not in reality

The typical emotional symptoms of grief such as those experienced when dealing with the death of someone loved are:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety, apprehension or fear
  • Guilt
  • Numbness or an inability to feel or to express feelings
  • Feeling remote or removed from the situation emotionally
  • Depressed emotionally
  • Shock

All three areas of symptoms: physical, mental and emotional are felt by all those who grieve. Not all of the symptoms may be experienced at the same intensity.

Certain symptoms may only be experienced briefly and others with deep intensity that lasts hours, days, or weeks. Symptoms of grief when expressed allow us to move through the process of accepting our loss and being able to cope with it.

When we are presented with our own death or contemplate what it might be like we are certainly faced with grief or loss. Especially as death nears and we experience the physical stages of impending death our minds and emotions travel the stages of grief in our quest to cope with our own death.