‘Our feelings affect us physically’ - how our bodies speak the mental toll of grief according to experts

We look at how grief affects the body as part of our We Need to Talk...series. Picture: UNSPLASH/ DMITRY BAYER

We look at how grief affects the body as part of our We Need to Talk...series. Picture: UNSPLASH/ DMITRY BAYER - Credit: Archant

As part of our We Need to Talk...campaign, reporter Clare Butler looks at how the body interprets our thoughts and emotions.

“The death of someone close to us is probably the most devastating experience that will ever happen to us.”

Those are the words of Cruse Bereavement Care – the UK’s largest bereavement charity that provides care to those suffering from a loss.

Grief strikes so very deeply, that it is not just a mental toll but a physical weight that our bodies must process daily.

The effects on our bodies range from changes in how we eat, sleep, think and function.

Cruse state: “When someone dies it is very common for our bodies to react in a way we don’t expect. It can be really worrying and confusing.

“You may lose your appetite, have difficulty sleeping, or feel really anxious. You may feel mentally drained and unable to think straight.

Most Read

“People are also often very vulnerable to physical illnesses after bereavement. All of these things are very common.”

But let’s take a deeper look beyond the surface.

How is our suffering contributing to physical aches and pains, digestive and hormonal issues?

Deb Shapiro is the international best-selling author of ‘Your Body Speaks Your Mind’.

Speaking about her book in 2010 she said felt the need to write it after it “became obvious that the language of the body connects to the mind”.

She said: “The body is talking to us all the time.

“The two-way language is very clear – our thoughts and feelings affect us physically.

“As you think and feel you become.”

Is it any wonder that when a loved one passes away or we suffer a life-altering loss that our bodies respond with physical upset?

Our heart doesn’t appear like a cartoon drawing with a jagged line ripped through the middle - but that doesn’t mean it isn’t broken.

We need time, support and self-care to process the pain and weight of the grief were are in for us to be able to heal our bodies too.