When Grief Gets Physical: dealing with physical grief symptoms

There is simply no way to anticipate what grief feels like.  It is one of those experiences that you can describe to someone, but it is impossible to really understand it until you are forced to live with it.  Of all the unimaginable aspects of grief, there is one thing we hear people say time and again that they really didn’t expect: physical grief symptoms. They might not have been fully able to appreciate the emotional rollercoaster of grief until they were on it, but they at least had a sense it was part of the process.  The physical stuff is something many people tell us they simply didn’t know to expect until it hit them like a ton of bricks.

When this happens, it can be distressing.  Anytime we have new, uncomfortable physical issues it is distressing.  But in grief that can sometimes be coupled with a new level of anxiety.  In the past, a headache was a headache.  After the devastating loss of a loved one, you are all-to-familiar with the reality that life can turn on a dime.  Suddenly that headache is clearly a sign of something terrible.  This distress around physical grief symptoms often emerges with thoughts like:


So today’s post is going to get straight to the point.  If you take nothing else, just remember: grief doesn’t just manifest as emotional symptoms, it also involves physical symptoms.  Don’t panic, they’re normal.  Horrible and frustrating and sometimes scary, but normal.  You can’t magically cure them, but you can do things to manage them.  And of course, if they are impacting your day to day functioning or not getting more manageable over time, see your doctor!

Here is a quick run-down of some common physical grief symptoms (illustrated by bitmoji) and some tips and resources:


You feel exhausted all the time.  You feel run down. You are always ready for a nap. Ironically, when you try to sleep you may not be able to, only making your fatigue worse.   Or maybe you’re getting plenty of sleep and still feeling fatigued, due to the constant emotional strain of grief.


Tips: when you’re struggling with fatigue, sleep is a good place to start but it isn’t the only factor.  If you haven’t already, check out some of our tips for grief and getting a good night’s sleep.   Some of the other items on this list can also help with combating fatigue.

Aches and pains.

Yes, for real, you’re body can start to hurt.   You are experiencing the weight of a constant stress, you are fatigued, you may not be sleeping, you’re body is tense.  It is not uncommon for people to describe generalized muscle aches in grief, sometimes so severe it feels like the flu!  Research has even found that grief  “aggravates” symptoms of physical pain in older adults.

Tips: try to work on body relaxation.  Things like meditation, getting a massage, and stretching can sometimes be helpful.  And who doesn’t need an excuse for a massage! If you can’t afford a massage, check to see if there is a local massage school in your area – they often need practice clients so you can get a massage for a deep discount or free.  If you are struggling with chronic pain that you feel may be exacerbated by your loss, talk to a pain management specialist.  Be aware of the risks of “self-medicating” with drugs and alcohol when physical pain is increased, and consider looking into alternative therapies, like acupuncture, biofeedback, and talking to a therapist.

Tightness in the chest, shortness of breath

This is a symptom that can be associated with cardiac issues, so definitely something to get checked out if it is severe or chronic.  But it can also be a more generalized sense of tightness or shortness of breath that comes with anxiety, a common grief reaction.  Some describe it as a dull and constant tightness, others experience waves of tightness or shortness of breath, which can especially be associated with encountering grief triggers.

Tips: check out tips for coping with anxiety in grief, as well as some general relaxation approaches like meditation and deep breathing.  Learning breathing techniques can be helpful and calming not just with tightness and shortness of breath, but in many difficult and stressful situations.  Lastly, check out our post on coping with grief triggers.


Yes this is a type of ache/pain, but it is a very specific and very common type. The most common source of headaches is stress and, as you well know if you’re reading this, grief is one, huge, immense, life-encompassing stressor.  The constant tension that comes with grief can be a source of chronic headaches.

Tips: there are a lot of lists out there for managing tension headaches, though many only scratch the surface (think cool compresses and an ibuprofen).  This list goes a bit deeper than some we’ve seen and may be a good place to start.


If there is one thing we hear time and again from grievers it is, It feels like I can’t remember anything! From losing keys, to forgetting to pick kids up from daycare, to missing meetings or appointments, and on and on, forgetfulness can start to feel like a new way of life.  This is even the case for folks who used to have the memory of an elephant.  Try not to get too worried.  For most people, this slowly improves with time.  There are also some ways you can cope.  If you don’t see this improving, talk to your doctor to make sure nothing else is going on!

Tips: Use the simple tools at your disposal: to-do lists, phone alerts/reminders, phone calendars with alerts (that you can set a day or week in advance, so you aren’t getting the first reminder 5 minutes before!).  Create an “important stuff” spot in your house – it doesn’t have to be organized, but if it is something really important at least you know what general area it is in.  Try to keep a sense of humor – it is hard to laugh at yourself when you get to the grocery store without your purse, when you’re emotionally teetering and about to burst into tears, but it can help if you can muster it. I was looking for other good resources or articles on this topic and struggled to find much.  If you have a good suggestion, please leave a comment!

Inability to focus

You may be seeing a connection here.  Focus when you are under stress, distracted and forgetful, or struggling with fatigue or headaches, can feel impossible to achieve.  You may find yourself totally zoning out in meetings, in class, in conversations, and almost anywhere else.  Sometimes you may be distracted specifically thinking of your loved one or the life stressors that have come with the loss. Sometimes it is simply being unable to take in new information so you space out totally. Either way, it is normal, as crazy as it feels.

Tips: improving focus can be tough, even when grief isn’t involved.  Personally, I struggle with focus so I *may* not be the best person to speak to this one.  I read a LOT of books, articles, and tips but find very few that make a big impact when something like grief or other emotional stress is at play.  That said, there are definitely ways you can improve your environment and habits at work or school that can help.  Check out this post from mindtools.com for some good, manageable ideas.

Appetite changes or digestive issues

Maybe you have only eaten 2 pieces of toast all week.  Maybe you stopped at McDonald’s three times yesterday.  Whether it is significant increases or decreases, changes in appetite are normal with grief and many other life stressors.  Even if you’re appetite has stayed the same you may experience feelings of nausea or other digestive issues that can come with grief and stress.

Tips: food is connected to both physical and emotional health, so trying to get this in check is important.  If you are struggling with eating enough,  it is important to make sure your basic nutritional needs met.  If you are eating minimally, focus on making sure the foods you are eating are high in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.   A healthy smoothie or soup with a good balance of fats, proteins, and carbs can go a long way in helping you get what you need.  We have a post here from a wellness coach on tips for trying to eat healthy, even when you have no motivation.  If over-eating is your problem, you’re not alone.  This is a common issue in emotionally difficult times and we have a post on that too!

Getting sick more often

There is plenty of research showing that stress in general, and grief specifically, can take a toll on the immune system.  Couple that with not getting enough sleep, not eating well, and general fatigue that makes self-care a challenge and it is a recipe for getting sick. Research has shown this impact on the immune system is most significant in older adults who are grieving.

Tips: following suggestions for many of the other physical grief symptoms mentioned above can help with this one – sleep, eating well, and managing stress can all help in lowering your risk for getting sick.  In addition, you can also talk to your doctor about nutrition and supplements that help with boosting your immune system.

If you are looking for some general tips on taking care of yourself, don’t miss Eleanor’s epic list of 64 self-care tips.

Leave a comment to share how physical grief symptoms have impacted you and any tips you have for coping! 

April 12, 2017

83 responses on "When Grief Gets Physical: dealing with physical grief symptoms"

  1. I am only twelve years old and my dad just died of brain death. i held his hand till his last breath. i stayed at the hospital 24/7 all until it was time to let him go. It has greatly changed me in a way i have never changed before, not a good thing. the more i sleep, the more tired i feel. my hands are shaking. i had a full slab of ribs plus more and still felt hungry, still quite skinny. i havent been the same since. either i am moving really fast or i am moving really slow, never in between. i miss him everyday. i am always trying to figure out these ways that couldve prevented it. sometimes i go and look at our text messages. and i get so angry at myself because the last time i texted him, it was two hours after he texted me. i would do anything in the world just to hear his voice again. maybe even see him, at least in my dreams. i dont know why i did this, it will probably only make matters worse, but i texted his phone just now, and every time i see my phone light up, i am hoping that its him, that it was all a dream, or it was just all in my head, and this may not be good but, that maybe he was kidnapped and he texted me his location so i could just go get him. he had always promised me that he would teach me how to take apart and put back together a car and now, i have to learn. i am actually learning now. it wont be as near as the same without him teaching me but i promised him, on his deathbed, that i would follow all of his true wishes, and i knew exactly what they were. i feel like i may be going into depression. my best friend really helped me thru this. my mom is working on getting me a therapist. i keep on looking online for a free therapist but they all say that they are not right for me and all i need to do is talk to someone. this may also sound bad, but i dont want to talk to my family about it, id rather see someone that i dont know. i dont like pity parties and i really hate when people give me special treatment. i know that they are just trying to help, but its so much harder with the special treatment. it just feels as if it just makes me feel worse. and now obviously, i think i actually do need a therapist because i just typed so much stuff. if u know any online free therapists that i could talk to, please just via email me at [email protected] i would really appreciate it

  2. My beautiful husband of 47 years ago died of cancer 3 months ago in Hospice. I was alone with him when he died. Even the hospice nurse walked out over come with tears as she was new. I was alone with him as he took his last breath. Yes, it tore my heart out as I saw him laying there. I loved him so much and always will. I have God, Jesus, our only child, our 41 year old sweet son and his sweet wife. This has all been beyond devastating. I am experiencing so many grief symptoms….chronic muscle pain, overeating,tears, tears and more tears, forgetfulness, no energy, no sleep….you name it. I’ve even wondered about PTSD. I’ve never seen, in my 68 years, anyone die much less someone I love and loved so much.
    I cope only by knowing God and Jesus walk beside me holding me up. I so look forward to the day calls me home and pray I go to Heaven and can be with my husband for eternity. That is my deepest prayer. But it will be in God’s time, not mine.
    I love you, my dear husband, and pray to see you again someday. Until then,our son needs me. He could not survive losing us both so closely together. So, I go on.

  3. It’s a year and a half since my daughter died of overdose. Been through a lot since then. What I find hard now is it seems I’m just waiting for more awful things to happen. This gives me terrible anxiety and shortness of breath. I learned about deep breathing and sometimes it helps just wonder how long this next phase of grieving will last.

  4. I lost three family member s within five months. Then my son got a brain tumor he is fine now thank god. I did not eat for days can’t work my head feels like trash. Then I remembered that I had felt like this before when my dad had passed a way. I had a headache for almost a year could not take the pain away I thought my life was over. My brother had told me of a Chinese herbalist in phoenix that could help me. I told him no stupid tea could take this pain away I had spent thousands on doctor’s and meds. I could not take the pain no more thought maybe I would drive my truck right over a bridge and end it. I got scared I was thinking like this but could not take the pain. I finally had in of I figured there was no pain meds around thousands of years ago so they had to depend on tea’s what the hell let’s give it a try. I went to the Chinese herbalist the next day and he looked at my eye’s and checked my pulse, my tong ext. I thought to myself remind me to kick my brother hard next time I see him for getting me to see this Want to be doctor. He wrote everything in Chinese and gave the proscription to his wife. She got five sheets of paper and made five blends of tea’s they looked like landscaping trash. They told me to take one a day for five days. I made the first batch of tea it taste horrible made me feel no different. But after the third day I felt really good? I told myself no way a tea could help me feel this good. After the 5th day I felt brand new no joke every pain was gone. I could not believe after a year of none stop pain it was over thank god and my brother I almost lost everything over this pain . So I live a state away now from the herbalist and plan to drive or fly out there in two weeks. I hope this helps someone there is help for pain out there don’t give up. The Chinese herbalist is in phoenix on 44 st at the Chinese culture palace.

  5. Thank you for helping me find this page. I list my Mum just over 2 years ago. People say you’ll get over it but it gets worse everyday. I also have my 90 year old father living with me. I have just gone down with yet another bug. They seem to come around every three months or so.I used to be so healthy. These articles have given me something to think about.

  6. This song helps me through my darkest days and reminds me why I am still here.

    I Shall Not Live in Vain
    (Bill Douglas)

    If I can stop one heart from breaking
    I shall not live in vain
    If I can ease one life the aching
    Or cool one pain
    Or help one fainting robin
    Unto his nest again
    I shall not live in vain
    I shall not live in vain
    Love seeketh not itself to please
    Not for itself has any care;
    But for another gives its ease,
    And builds a Heaven in Hells’s despair.
    If I can stop one heart from breaking
    I shall not live in vain
    If I can ease one life the aching
    Or cool one pain
    Or help one fainting robin
    Unto his nest again
    I shall not live in vain
    I shall not live in vain.

  7. I lost my brother in November of 2017. He was only 40. He was murdered but I am telling the family he had an aneurysm so that way they don’t have the horrible images I have. ….. everyday feels like some sort of nightmare. I use to be so happy and now I just am sad all the time. I feel like I am floating above everyone and watching life go on for everyone except me. My chest is tight and I feel short of breath. Im irritated so easily and having a hard time sleeping and I feel so frustrated because I just want to be myself again. My heart literally feels like there is a spear in through it and its hard to put on a happy face for my 5 kids. Ive never experienced this type of loss. It still doesn’t seem real.

  8. I lost my 59 year old brother about 3 weeks ago while I was away on a cruise. He died from
    choking on a piece of meat. He was born with
    mild brain damage and mild
    cerebral palsy. I have been his caretaker for most of
    my life. I have been feeling extremely nauseated
    from grief and shock. When I lost my father 11 years
    ago I grieved for many years and was in a major depression. But I never felt so nauseated. I am
    praying that this symptom of grief will not be long term. I will never get over this loss or understand “why” my brother would have been taken away from
    me. He was doing so good and so happy.

  9. This article is so good, and really helped me understand what I’m going through. Thank you so much for writing it.

  10. I lost my son 6 years ago to a reckless driver and I feel like I am constantly bracing against the reality of it all and that is why my neck, shoulders, face, all feel so tense and tight. The forgetfulness and lack of focus are very real and I feel terrible because I have to constantly ask people to repeat themselves because I just disconnect and space out all the time. My entire body hurts all the time, my appetite disappeared and rarely returns because unless I am really very hungry all food still turns to dust in my mouth after a few bites. This is all valuable information to those new to grief. I had no idea the toll this would take on my physical body.

  11. I lost my 5year old son. He had hydrocephelus. It was such a shock coz we used to go to hospital and come back but this time he wouldn’t recover for two weeks…… he was right next to me when he died and I didn’t feel a thing or get to say goodbye….. everything around me reminds me of him. We would be almost always together. So I cry or think about him so often and everytime I do I get pains likeperiods pains or labour pains….sometimes i even bleed.

  12. My husband passed away in a rehab of heart attack. it was his third rehab. apart from grieving the guilt of putting him there is killing me. his alcoholism was a struggle for years but despite all that we loved each other deeply . I miss him terribly.

    • So sorry for your loss, Merlia. Feelings of guilt are a normal part of the grief process, but rest assured, you made the best decision you could at the time, during an impossible situation. We must do our best to be kind to ourselves, and not to second-guess that things would have been better had we acted differently. We simply don’t know that. They may have been worse. It’s very hard, but we must trust with Faith that everything went as it was supposed to. My heart goes out to you.

  13. Since my mother died three months ago I’ve gone through all sorts of emotions and physical symptoms. The main one I get is a stabbing pain in my chest that makes me hunch over. I’ve been grinding my teeth without realizing it and now they’re very tender. Every morning I feel terrible and my mood doesn’t improve until mid afternoon. I keep thinking, “Oh mum,” or “Oh I miss you mum” over and over and that just makes me go deeper into depression. I also get a strange electrical tingling on the skin of my chest on the left side that I originally thought was my phone vibrating in my pocket until I realized that the phone wasn’t in my pocket. By far the worst feeling is panic which seems to show up less often but when it does I feel absolutely overwhelmed. I’ve been through grief before but this one has been by far the most physical. I wish I could feel normal again.

  14. I lost my mother just over three months ago. She was my best friend and pretty much the center of my world since I was a little boy. I loved her so much that I never wanted to be parted from her which made going to school hell. I loved her, my dad and my sister so much I could never bear to leave them so I never left home. My family were all I ever wanted.
    We were always worrying about my sister who had cystic fibrosis, epilepsy and a learning disability. Mum put everything she could into keeping my sister going (which was a full time job) and still had time to be a great mother to me. Just the same, I was always fearful of the day when I would be all alone without them and so I tried to be with them as much as I could. When my sister died 12 years ago we were all devastated and Mum was crushed. My sister had been the center of her world and had always been with her. I’d never heard anyone cry so hard.
    Two years later Dad died and I was in agony over it – panic attacks, constantly fearful, and just plain heartbroken. Mum managed to get me through it by being strong even though she must have been just as devastated and fearful. It became just the two of us for the last 10 years and I put everything I had into giving her whatever she wanted. She looked after me really well during that time too and over time we coped together. All through that time I lived in fear of the day that I would lose her and I realized how isolated I was.
    When she went into hospital I spent weeks fearing for her life although the doctors treating her said that she would be fine. Her little cat was pining for her while she was in hospital and used to sleep on her bed waiting for her to come home. A couple of weeks before the end her cat had some kind of fit – I still don’t know what – and she died. I think I was more broken up about it than Mum was.
    On the morning Mum was to have an operation I managed to talk to her on the phone and told her over and over again how much I loved her and to please not leave me. It wasn’t supposed to be a dangerous operation so she told me not to be scared. My last words to her were “I love you.” An hour later the hospital called and told me to get up there right away as she had had an embolism on the way to the operation and her last words had been, “Who’ll look after my son?”
    I sat by her bedside for three days until the doctors sent me home; I wasn’t eating and I’d been in the same clothes for days. A friend drove me up there a couple of times a day so that I could spend as many hours with her as I could. I sang old songs to her that she used to sing to my sister and I when we were little and that helped me to cry. I was with her when she died and I held her until they told me that I had to go home.
    My best friend and his wife took me in and looked after me for the next few months and I would go home late at night. The house I’d lived in my whole life seemed suddenly so alien to me. Eventually I had to come home properly when my friend and his family went overseas for a trip. I’ve been mostly managing okay in the house on my own but the grief keeps tearing at me.
    Today it seems to be worse than it has been in a long time. For me, the grief feels like a tight, grasping pain in my chest. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. For the first two and a half months I would wake up every morning and be sick. I keep grinding my teeth, both asleep and awake and they are getting very sensitive. Lately I’ve been getting this strange buzzing sensation in the skin of my left pectoral and I keep thinking it’s my phone vibrating until I realize that I don’t have my phone in that pocket. The above article is right; there is always a physical side of grief but it seems to be different for each person you lose.
    I can’t focus, my work is suffering, and I’ve had a few occasions where I thought I might have been having a heart attack (though panic attack is more likely). I keep saying, “Oh mum, I miss you,” or just, “Oh mum,” and that just makes me feel worse. A friend of mine recently lost her husband and she said, “It’s like your life has ended but you’re still walking around,” and that’s exactly how I feel. I spent much of my life as a bit of a loner but now that I’m truly alone I can’t stand it. It hurts so much and I can’t make it go away. I wish my mum was here to help me through it.
    My heart goes out to all of you who are going through grief at the moment. I would not wish it on anyone.

    • I lost my mom 6 months ago. She was my best friend, as well. It was incredibly sudden. It kind of fed like your anchor to the planet is gone and you’re just floating through space.

      • I just lost my son last month. That is a good way to put it – my anchor to the world gone in a moment. I have no idea what to do or where to go now

    • Adam,
      I lost my mom a month ago today. I feel as if a piece of my heart died with her. How are you today? I don’t see how people do this!

  15. These types of articles and associated comments are very helpful. My mother was just diagnosed 3 days ago with metastatic pancreatic cancer which has spread to her lungs. She’s only 70 and I thought I’d have more time with her. We’re breaking the news to our 16 yr old daughter tonight and its going to be one of the hardest things to do since they’ve always been close. I’m just in the beginning stages of grief and I know its only going to get worse. I’ve had trouble falling asleep because I’m either crying or my brain is racing around with all kinds of “what-if” scenarios. I randomly get the chills and my appetite is gone. I was just promoted to a managerial role for an analytics department but I don’t know if I have it in me right now to do anything other than menial tasks. I wish there was an easy way to get to a state of peace. Right now it seems like the floor has dropped away and I’m in a free fall.

    • Hi Tammy I have just read your post about your mother being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I am so sorry for your news it is the worst. I have recently (11th December 2017) lost my mum to pancreatic cancer, she too was only 70. Please try to enjoy the time you have together as a a family. I hate cancer it is a horrible disease that robs us of our loved ones. Sending you hugs and strength at this emotionally and physically draining time.

      • Hi ladies,
        I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer on 12/10/17 after she fought for 2.5 years. She was 54. At 35 I thought id have my mom for a much longer time. I miss her everyday and my heart feels like there is a constant concrete block sitting on my chest. Her death occurred 3 weeks after my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer after 2 brain surgeries. Grief is my best friend lately.

  16. So lately I’ve been having literally ALL of these symptoms, 4 years ago my dad passed away which didn’t really hit me as I was 9 but I was shocked and it made me feel really crappy but over the past year or so I’ve been thinking about it a lot and it’s been really bothering me. From a young age my dad was never really around as he was always ill and never really could be around which meant we didn’t have much of a bond and when I had to stay at his house when I was younger I dreaded it as I couldn’t be away from my mum without actually having a break down so when I eventually had calmed down I would be moody and just be cruel and this must have made my dad feel terrible and thinking about it now makes me feel terrible. I honestly just miss him so much and I can’t deal with life anymore I don’t know what to do.

    • Cory, I’m sorry you are going through so much pain. I think your Dad would be proud of your openness and honesty. It sounds like you were dealing with a very difficult situation when you were a child, and sometimes circumstances are stacked against us and we act in ways we don’t understand until much later. If there is any way you could talk with a therapist, I think it could really help. Perhaps you could start with a school counselor. Given you were so young and in such a difficult situation, I think you should be more forgiving of yourself. Even in the best situations kids sometimes act out a bit…it is normal. That you miss your Dad so much now tells me that he was probably a very good man and that you are maturing into a fine young man. And he would not want you to be so hard on yourself. Try to learn to be kind to yourself, and to surround yourself with friends that you trust and who are supportive.

  17. I’m so glad I found this website. My cat Ginger died unexpectedly this morning. She was only 10 years old and totally healthy. She was perfectly fine and then went to nap on the futon – moments later I noticed something was going wrong, she was clearly in trouble and not breathing right, her body was going limp. I rushed her to the ER vet down the street and they couldn’t revive her. I’m beyond devastated. I’m still in shock and I feel like my body is still feeling the adrenaline from this morning. I keep shaking and my heart is beating fast. My breathing is shallow. It’s hard being alone right now. I have friends that have invited me over, but I don’t have the energy to go anywhere. I just miss Ginger like crazy. I keep having “if only…” thoughts, like if I could have noticed sooner or if there was something I could have done. I wish I knew what caused this. The vet said it could have been a blood clot, or problem with the heart. I just miss my baby girl, it hurts so much. I love her.

    • Caitlin I’m so sorry for your loss! My girl kitty became suddenly ill 2 weeks ago and stopped eating & drinking then suddenly my boy kitty stopped eating! They had different health issues this past year…the vet said it would be the kindest thing to let them both go! So I lost 2 at the same time. My heart is broken I miss them so much & I feel an ache in my chest all day when I’m home. I too am thankful to learn this is a normal part of grieving, we need to take care of ourselves 💔💔💔 Michelle

    • I’m so sorry for your loss!

      That’s exactly what happened to my cat 7 years ago. She was perfectly fine and then suddenly she couldn’t walk, could barely move or breathe properly. I ran her to the vet and there was nothing they could do. Her heart had thrown a blood clot which killed her within hours. They told me that even if she’d survived that one, once they throw one clot, they will continue throwing clots until one kills them. She was only 6 years old :’-(

      I lost her surviving sister just 5 days ago. She was 13 and she’d been ill for a while and I was already coming to terms with the fact she wasn’t going to be around much longer. I thought having the time to accept it before hand would make it easier, but it didn’t. I don’t think anything could. Sudden, unexpected death and a death you know is coming both hurt intensely.

      Just remember it will get better. You have to go through the entire grieving process to come out on the other side. But there is another side and while you’ll always miss your pet, it doesn’t hurt this intensely forever. I’ve cried more in the past 5 days than I have all year, but I know time will heal all wounds.

  18. I’m from the UK – I’m so glad I found this website. It put a lot of how I was feeling into perspective. My daughter died in January this year – suicide – I found her & there was no way of her coming back. To see my only child so dead was horrendous. I certainly didn’t understand the huge physical impact on top of the mental anguish. I started running & have found some help in that, plus you certainly find out who your friends are! I have a bereavement counsellor once a week. All I can add is stick with the positive & caring people around you – be kind to yourself, and don’t push yourself too hard this is quite a journey – not a quick sprint. It’s too early for me to be anyway clear of the utter despair & I have lost myself down a long dark rabbit hole – but somewhere there is a light – at the moment a glimmer but I feel I owe it to my daughter to live for what she has lost. I wish everyone on here love & kindness to yourself hold on!

  19. My husband of 28 years died Nov 8th. He had surgery on Nov 1st. He was home from the hospital, was doing fine at home, we went out, he collapsed and died. The doctors believe it was a blood clot. I can’t stop seeing the look on his face. I am glad I was with him and he wasn’t alone when he died, but I am traumatized. We’ve been friends for 35 years. He did everything for me. I am back at work out of necessity. A subordinate of mine who I’ve had personality conflicts with for over a year went to my boss because I left a corrective note to her and her feelings were hurt by my “tone”. My boss gave me a formal coaching about my abrasiveness and told me I was observed by HER boss that I was sitting down while working. My husband has not been dead 3 weeks. I was devastated that these minor infractions at work were such a priority to be addressed NOW. I expected a little compassion. I work hard for this company and I defended myself at the time but my boss was not going to be wrong. Now I’m thinking about leaving. The pay is good but I don’t feel appreciated or valued as a human being. Do I leave this job for my piece of mind, or stick it out and work with/for these children? I’m tired and don’t feel like learning another job, but the timing of this added stress seems wrong to me.

    • So sorry for your loss.It is well.Be strong.
      Try not to let the attitude at work get to you.Let it go because quitting your job and starting all over will be an added stress.
      You already said the pay is good and you don’t feel like starting afresh.
      Please don’t quit …try and make the best out of this situation. I’m sure your co workers and bosses have their personal problems too.
      Wishing you all the best.

    • Hi Mary, I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost a son 7 years ago and please let me give you some advice. Try not to make any serious changes in your life while grieving, we are more vulnerable now. Wishing you the best. Sheryl

  20. It was great to find this post. I have been wondering how come I am so exhausted after crying. I cried a few times on thanksgiving day and the next day I stayed in bed all day because I was so tired. I lost my 12 year old some days before Christmas last year. December 19, 2016 to b exact. He died from a blood clot in his brain that led to a stroke. He had been having migraines for about 6 months and were trying to figure out why. His doctor just thought he was prone to them even though he had had a problem with them before. So we had no idea until it was too late! It’s been a very rough year and I haven’t wanted to deal with the holidays but I have to for my 3 girls. My husband and I just try to take one day at a time. Thanks for these insights and ideas of how to deal with physical grief. I’m so sorry to everyone who’s posted here for their losses.

  21. In a short span of 3 months, I lost my Cat due to a dog attack, my Dog due to 3 types cancer, my rabbit due to illness and most importantly and most painfully my Mormor, (Guardian ) who raised me, and taught me everything I know.
    The grief of my pets was bad enough and admittedly I’m not through it. I was raised on a farm and am very close to my pets, they are my family, but my Mormor was the biggest hit, I didn’t see it coming.
    He passed from a stroke, and despite my family trying to support each other through this, I’m finding it harder and harder as Christmas approaches.
    I have noticed I’m always lethargic, and wasn’t sure if I was just getting sick, but it has been dragging on now beyond sickness. I’m coming to realise it might be the grief of everything hitting me, and me not coping as well as I should.
    My hubby and I were trying to have a baby before mormor died, and she was supporting my emotionally the whole way, I always thought she would meet my kids, it never crossed my mind she wouldn’t. And now that things are getting closer to being fixed and being able to have kids, I have found my excitement has gone.
    If I could, I would give anything to have her back, even the future children I have been through hell and back to try and have.
    I don’t know if anyone else has ways to look on the brighter side, but I’m struggling to see it.
    Hopefully time makes all the difference.

  22. I just recently lost my dog, yes my dog. I was unsure and how this death was going to affect me I dread it her whole entire life. My dog came at a part of my life when I just lost my father she was just a handful she was 4 weeks old and had three legs. I had the best 14 years 7 months of my life with her. 3 weeks ago she unexpectedly jumped off my bed and I thought broke her leg make a long story short she ruptured a tumor full of cancer in her leg and she had to be put down. My heart hurts literally I have chest pains surrounding my heart. I’ve been to the doctor and it’s my heart is doing fine so it’s just stress-related. I have lost my parents the grandparents best friends… I just don’t understand why the loss affecting me this hard when everyone else I lost has never affected me like this. My brain is content and knowing that she’s gone and not in pain, but my body just feel some sort of other way. I really hope this pain in my chest goes away soon it just keeps lingering me to remembering that she’s gone and that’s why I’m getting the pain in the first place. I do know THAT I am going to feel better I am going to get past this I am going to grow from this and understand that in time this pain shall pass.

  23. My son died on April 14, 2017 of an overdose. He has a 2 1/2 year old son that is the light of my life. The grief is overwhelming and I am trying to hold it together for my other son. The physical symptoms of grief are not letting up even though it’s been 6 and a half months. My heart physically hurts, I’ve had a headache since the day he passed. Every part of me aches and the fog isn’t getting any better. I go to counseling and am hopeful that with more time I’ll feel better. But let’s face it, my boy is gone – it’s got to hurt. Unimaginable loss has got to cause such pain.

    • I am so relieved to see these postings. I lost my only grandson – 18 years old – accidental drug overdose. The grief has left me pretty well housebound and lost 10lbs in the process. Am I only 5′ but weigh around 87lbs. Am scared to get on the scale to see if I’ve dropped more weight. My doctor says this is all “back lash” from my grandson’s death. I can’t function hardly. Terrible digestive problems, extreme fatigue etc. I’ve had to hire a cook-as I can no longer do my meals. I’ve got this hole in my heart and with Christmas approaching-makes matters worse. My grandson would’ve turned 19 this December 2. Drug overdoses are rampant. My heart goes out to all of us suffering from the loss of any we hold dear. I’ve no support system but see a counsellor next week. Everyday is a challenge. How long do we endure the agony of our grief???? Many people are praying for me-but I see no “relief or improvement” in my emotional or physical well being.

  24. I thought I was going crazy. It has been almost 6 months since my son was found dead from accidental Vicodin overdose alone for two days in his apartment in another state. His sister died 7 years ago and I lost my parents who I was taking care of within 3 years (before) of my daughter and my beloved boss of 27 years in the middle of that all. So my son’s death has broken me. I kept on going for about 3 months but then aches and pains and extreme exhaustion took my body over. I’m sad and in pain from my back most of the time and too tired to do much at all. It’s a task to do daily things. I recently took 3 weeks off work and I ended up with gout then and had to stay on my bed for 10 days. I’m wondering if this exhaustion will ever ease up and the joint pains go away. I too have digestive issues back and forth. I’m really best at work with a structure to my day accomplishing something but I have to come home and the exhaustion sets in. I pray and pray and try relaxation but it seems like I’m usually all tanned up unless I concentrate on relaxing. I do have really good friends and work with doctors who all support me. My husband is very needy and he and my son did not get along so now I do not think he understands but he has lots of his own mental issues that weigh me down. I’m thankful I found this blog this morning. I needed to know this that others suffer too and maybe I’m not headed for my own death. Not sure that it would matter anyway. It’s all just so scary.

    • I have empathy for you. I am at work and my chest is killing me. I buried my baby boy this past August from an intentional drug overdose. The fact that it was intentional eats at me minute by minute. I will pray for you.

  25. I really appreciate this article and everyone’s posts. It has been just 6 months since the love of my life passed away from lung cancer. Some days, I can barely walk due to the pain in my joints, especially my hips. Some nights, I can’t sleep because I can’t find a comfortable position for my aching hips and back. I try to take a nap every afternoon just to pass the time as the days are so long, and so sad, and so boring, I don’t communicate well with others, and I’ve fractured a relationship with my sister after having lashed out at her: even though she was the only support I had for funeral preparations, and I couldn’t have done it all without her. In other areas I’m doing better – I prepare myself good meals and stay on a good hygiene schedule. The household chores are mostly getting done. While probate has brought more stresses, I’ve kept a cool head through those activities so far. I know working through grief is a long process, but it’s the physical pain I wasn’t expecting, and am having the hardest time dealing with. At least I know others feel the pain, too.

  26. Hi Everyone,

    I recently lost my 19 year old brother to lymphoma. He was diagnosed2 1/2 years ago and passed away a week ago. I tried to see him as much as I could but feel like I should have spent more time. I was able to spend 3 consecutive days with him before he died. I felt his pain and fear. My family comforted him and assured him he wasn’t alone and
    that we loved him. This is my first time experiencing grief and I feel like my world is gray, I don’t want to be around happiness and rather sob alone. Sometimes I’m ok, then I start to breakdown. It’s hard to concentrate and get things done. My back has been aching and I feel fatigue. I miss him so much.

  27. I’ve lost my 13 year old sister suddenly almost three-months ago. I’ve been familiar to some extent to what grief, I’ve also lost my grandpa earlier this year, and I think I can say that I’ve dealt with grief then, mental grief. But when my sister passed the grief that I feel is mostly physical and it is very scary at first, you feel like you’re seriously ill, like something is very bad happening to you which caused me terrible anxiety. I visited two doctors just to tell me that this is all stress related, but oh boy this doesn’t feel like stress at all. At first it felt like sharp pain all over my back, and then it became muscle spasms, then sharp pain in my muscles again, then terrible neck pain and neck cracking and grinding sounds, joint popping and cracking, extreme fatigue and what it feels like that the moment that I started accepting the whatever is happening is related to grief another symptom shows up, which starts the anxiety all over again. I used to be very active but now a 30 minutes walk would drain the life out of me. It’s so scary to feel all of this and you don’t even find posts about the physical effects of grief which makes everything worse.

  28. I lost my mother August 3, 2016.. hit me like a run of bricks… in the 7 days leading up to her home going I didn’t eat only thing I did was drunk water..never left her side I stayed at the hospital and it was shocking to my family because I hate hospitals.. watching her in the week I did I saw her body transform and the dying process as they call it was taking over.. My mother had been dealing with kidneys issues going to dialysis 3 times a week for about 3 hours a day… I moved back from Maryland to help her.. went to every doctors visit etc.. now reading this one would assume I am the only child.. I’m not i have two older bothers and a younger sister. Only other person thag was their everyday with me was my older brother.. the other two didn’t show up to the service and one didn’t even show up to the hospital.. the other that did tried to fight me etc. I had to deal with all of her service arrangements alone. Thanksgiving of that same year I lost my nana… watched as she took her last breathe. These two women were my air, my reason for living.. I pushed and fought because they needed me.. now that they are gone a part of me is truly lost..im not big with tears or emotions… it’s either I’m happy or mad.. some said greif would hit me but in a physical sense because of the person I am… out of nowhere at times I feel tired when I know I shouldn’t, unmotivated to do anything, body aches etc. All I know is this grief shit sucks

  29. My big brother who was now 48 died 2 weeks ago. I had intended to call him the day before, but I didn’t. I keep going over that Sunday that I chose to sleep and watch TV instead of calling him. I am dreading going home today..it’s Friday and I wish I could work on the weekends too. I am dreading Sunday. He loved the Cowboys and last Sunday I thought I would watch the game for him, but I suddenly got so sick to my stomach I had to change the channel. I’m known as a jokester at work and at home…I can’t even smile..I feel stomach queezy constantly. I keep having memories of us when. We were kids and it tears me apart inside. I want to stop thinking so I can sleep. I wake up all night every night..my teeth clenched so tightly together. I miss him so much. His wife picked up his ashes yesterday and hasn’t contacted me or my mom since the day after he died. I know she’s struggling herself…I hurt for her too, but she won’t return our calls. I want to see his urn, I want to touch it. I know my parents are hurting too..I’m trying to be strong for all of them, but I feel like I’m falling apart inside…all I keep thinking of seeing him when he was younger and I looked up to him.

  30. I lost my boyfriend and the father of my two daughters in August 2016, to homicide. He was 26 years old and we had been together for about 4 years. I have very recently started going to counseling and also got some medications. I only wanted medications temporarily until I can learn to heal myself. Somedays I cant even get out of bed, it is a struggle to go to work, to clean up the house. To do anything. And my memory is horrible. It took me several months to realize why I was feeling this way, and thanks to my supervisor and a co-worker, I finally built up the courage to go talk to someone. She is whom showed me this blog website, I am enjoying reading it. Thanks!

  31. I just lost my daughter to addiction..and the pain is intense. I have more pain, it hurts to walk and I sleep a lot, I do eat though…
    I feel disconnected with the world, I hurt a lot and miss her so much..
    I am hoping this feeling goes away, as I am older and still want to live out my life.

  32. My husband died less than 3 weeks ago. We were married 48 1/2 years. I held together for 2 weeks and did everything as medical power of attorney through the memorial service. I had to work last week but this week I am so sick to my stomach I can’t work or eat. I called my doctor and have an appointment to get some short term disability started and have a counseling appt on Saturday. I am supposed to start a grief group tonight but don’t think I will be able to handle it. I am asking my body to be strong and it is telling me to take care of myself.

  33. 7/22/17, My amazing, brilliant, funny, loving, 44 year old husband took too many sleeping pills, which made him loopy, and shot himself in the head through a pillow lying next to me in bed. I didn’t even hear it happen…just found him in the morning. Gone a week after our 1st anniversary. We were so completely in love with eachother and having a great time raising his 2 amazing kids. My best friend is gone. He also suffered from several silent diseases, like Lupus among others. I’m seeing this as a recurring theme in some of your posts. I completely identify with those of you saying that you understand why your sick loved ones decided to check out. I also identify with the posts from other mama’s… I do feel like we are expected to keep everyone else running while trying desperately to find time to grieve ourselves.
    I’m back to work this week and my symptoms suuuuuuck. Hair loss, migraine level headaches, body aches, not able to concentrate on ANYTHING. I was so much happier at home, sitting with my memories while the kids are at school… but I know I have to stand up and keep going. I will honor my husband for the rest of my life.
    Thanks for letting me get this out. Sending love to all of you.

  34. My mother commited suicide by hanging just two weeks ago in my grandparent’s bathroom, where we were staying. I discovered her when I began to panic that she was taking much too long, knowing that she’d been emotionally distressed lately, and that we were scheduled for several psychiatric appointments that day alone. But she concealed her suicidal thoughts, assuring me in my panicked state that she was resolved to get some help for whatever was happening, and that she would see me blossom in my future. If only I could read her mind, and know the truth……I would have moved mountains to save her from herself. She was 45 years old, an unusual intellect, and a brilliant social worker. My mother, in my whole 18 years of life, was my best friend, and the love of my world. The first few days after it all transpired, I was numbed emotionally, which worried me because I knew a healthy part of grieving had to be letting it all out (which is slowly being disproven as a close minded approach to the varying manifestations of grief (i.e. resilience) by a doctor of psychology out of teachers college, columbia). But after seeing my beautiful mother’s mangled body, and realizing how desparately she no longer wanted to be alive, all of my emotions flooded to the surface. I sobbed for days straight, refused to eat or talk, and confined myself to my grandparents and my journal. I felt, every waking moment, that I caused this horribly unexpected tragedy. Now just after her funeral, I have been having all of the above mentioned symptons; I’ve gone so far to venture at times that I was having a heart attack, or developing colon cancer. I still will see my doctor to make sure I am in good health (or confirm the contrary). But I have now experienced my worst nightmare, in malevolent form. Where do I go from here?

  35. In a 3 year span my best friend was killed in a car accident, my only sibling /sister (and only family member left) died if a rare aggressive uterine cancer and my husband of 41 years died. Now I have no one left. I’m an introvert so it’s hard to get out and make a new life. After my husband died I had heart palpitations for over a year, very uncomfortable. My blood pressure also went up.

  36. My dad died about a month ago and my best friend died 4 years ago. My dad had a really strange type of pneumonia that doctors were unable to treat and were dumbfounded by what was attacking him. He was in the ICU for 11 days before he decided he had enough. He couldnt breathe without help of a machine and he wasnt eating anymore and he was just slowly dying. My family and I spent over 30 hours in his hospital room as he transitioned to heaven. Since then I have experienced so many symptoms. I can’t sleep, and if I do fall asleep I wake up in a panic and have a full blown panic attack. Sometimes when I am driving, I start to panic out of nowhere. I have headaches and always feel sick to my stomach. Its hard for me to eat. Its hard for me to go back to work. I just started a new job and I cant even focus on things I am supposed to be learning. This is the hardest thing I have ever been through. I feel so traumatized after watching my dad pass away. I have been seeing a counselor and trying to talk about my feelings but sometimes I feel so hopeless. When my best friend died, it was 4 years ago and she was in a terrible car accident. After seeing what happened to my dad, it brought back all of those feelings from when my friend passed away. This blog was very helpful to read.

  37. My older brother died on June 6th – suddenly and shockingly. He drowned. My mind was like a sponge for weeks. Then I went back to work and that’s when the stomach issues started. Gas, bloating, and yes, diarrhea. It is now July 17 and I still have it. Then Saturday I felt a UTI coming on. Sure enough – it’s hit me hard. Waiting to get antibiotics. It makes me wonder if I should go on short term disability. I am not familiar with this “blog” but I’m glad I found it. I feel a little more normal.

    • Maybe short term disability would be a good idea – if you have the financial means to do so, you don’t want to cause more stress at what is already a difficult time. To combat stress, meditation helps, there are many apps to help you with this. I’m speaking from personal experience, having been through several traumatic events which gave me physical symptoms, even though it wasn’t myself that the events happened to. Know that you are not alone, and please, take time to heal yourself. One day you will feel normal, it may just be a different sort of normal.

  38. One year and eight months ago my mother passed away after a very short stint in the hospital. It was totally unexpected. 3 months later my husband would succomb to lung cancer he had been fighting, and 2 weeks ago my father died. The pain (mental and Physical !) was unbearable, , every single muscle in my neck back and abdomen feel wracked with pain,, like i am comming down with the flu. I am trying to breathe deep, take walks with friends ,, (and take meds too ,, xanex when i just cant handle the anxiety, advil for the pain), I dont feel this time as worried because i learned after my husband died (and was shocked to discover) that Grief can cause actual real physical pain,, i guess thats why they call it heart ache.

  39. My husband of 29 years died last July. He had lung cancer, PAH, pulmonary fibrosis and lupus. The last 3 years of his life were filled with a lot of pain, surgeries, hospitalizations, medications and too many doctor visits to count. I feel lost without him. I also feel tired all the time.

    I had an emotional breakdown on Easter this past weekend. Today I was trying to take care of license plates, emission testing and some other errands. I finally gave up and came home because I was getting so anxious and could feel my chest getting tighter and tighter, along with a massive headache. Some days I just can’t concentrate enough to accomplish anything beyond a cup of coffee and making the bed.

    I keep waiting to wake up one morning and feeling better. I have had friends pull away. I am retired so no longer have work to keep me busy. Although I doubt I could concentrate well enough to work.

    Just feel like I am losing my mind. I am so sad and miss him so much. He was my heart and soul.

    • I lost my husband on 20th April 2017. I haven’t motivation. Hate having to try and get through each day. No appetite and feel weak and shaky.
      Hope this gets better. Hope to feel normal again one day. All the best to you Mary.

  40. 5½ years ago I lost my wife, my greatest love, to metastatic colon cancer. We met in 1968 and were married in 1972. Two days ago would have been her birthday. I kept thinking of her as the date approached, and decided to have a private birthday party in her memory. I bought an excellent brownie from a nearby restaurant. At home, I put in a birthday candle, lit it, and sang “Happy Birthday”, slower than the usual because my happiness in remembering her was mixed with sorrow at losing her. I imagined her as I often do— by my side, each with an arm around the other and my cheek nestled in her curly hair— watching the candle with me. Then I blew out the candle, took it out, and ate the brownie.

    In my religion, Judaism, the “official” period of mourning for a parent, spouse, or child is one year. Just yesterday I learned that the actual mourning for a spouse is more typically seven or eight years. (Unfortunately, I can’t remember where on the web I learned this.) Maybe that explains some of what’s been going on in my life since then. I’ve always been horribly disorganized (extremely serious attention deficit disorder), but it’s gotten many times worse since she died.

    About 2½ years after her death I started going with a woman in my congregation. We grew very close, and we were planning to find a place to move into together when her lease ran out. But ten months later her heart stopped during a CAT scan, and she never recovered.

    Last year or the year before I developed plaque psoriasis. In the middle of last year I, who have always loved taking long walks, couldn’t walk 100 feet without stopping for breath and light-headedness. When that and other, sudden symptoms took me to the ER, it turned out I had developed a rare form of blood cancer; fortunately it’s a very slow-moving one that treatment has been counteracting effectively. I had not associated these with my grief before finding your site here, but now I am wondering if there is a connection. Not that it would matter for treatment, I suppose, but still I wonder.

    Thank you for “listening”. I have subscribed here and expect to keep reading.

  41. Hi, I just very unexpectedly lost my brother and father in the same week. I am having A very hard time separating the grief because the circumstance of their deaths were very much the same both on life support in the same hospital one week apart. It is all so much to take in at once, also trying to help my mother get through this is beyond heart breaking.

  42. In the last three years, I’ve lost my ex-father in law, my ex-husband ( who was the love of my life) my boyfriend, then a lifelong friend, then my infant grandson. I am so numb.

  43. My daughter is alive and hasn’t spoken to me in 4+ years. My grief is overwhelming. I don’t know what I did. I am a nurse manager of an emergency department and go to work every day grieving. I’ve put on 60 lbs, can’t sleep, can’t concentrate, have panic attacks in the middle of most nights. I don’t believe in fibromyalgia but I have pain in every joint and muscle every single day. Knowing that she hates me and doesn’t want to be in my or her sister’s life is killing me slowly. I keep going for my younger daughter but I feel dead inside. I put on a front every day of my life. I listen to people complain about their children and their lives and I think “Do you know how blessed you are?!?!?” I have put this in God’s hands but grieve and grieve and grieve.

    • Oh Deneen, I am so sorry. This sort of grief (know in the field as “ambiguous grief) is absolutely excruciating and others often don’t recognize it

    • Whoops, hit reply too soon! I was saying, others often don’t recognize it like they would a death, so you don’t get the same support from other people in your life. Have you tried or considered talking to a counselor?

  44. I sometimes feel like I’m at the edge of no return. I have had to deal with the loss of my mother,whom I spent many a day off work to drive to another town to care for her, and then wrapping things up after her death in 2013.Then the loss of the love of my life in 2016 followed by the major life and death scare of a son who had a ruptured brain aneurysm and stroke and who now is in hospital since New Years eve 2016….On top of all this I had to take on learning to use all the outdoor equipment,dealing with a well that went dry,taking on the financial responsibility of running a house on my own while turning 65.That was more paper work, and waiting,plus taking on a heavier work load…..did I say mental exhaustion?…I’ll be glad to get out of this tunnel…..if only I could. Grief comes in many forms. I sometimes feel like a ship in a hurricane.

  45. My best friend died 9 months ago. Since then, my weight has gone up and my diabetes is out of control. I don’t know what to do to fix it. I have seen my Dr, he can only treat me medically, he can’t make me not be sad anymore.

    • Kathy, I recommend therapy or a support group. I have diabetes too and struggle with depression. My son took his life 10 years ago and every March is tough, tough, tough. I don’t know what I would do without a place to talk and cry and get angry once a week.

  46. Wow, you have hit the nail on the head with this post. 2 days after my 56th birthday my son died unexpectedly in his sleep. It has been almost two and a half years. I have had all these symptoms except headaches. By the way, I absolutely love the drawing with the food. Grief is a horrible thing that influences everything single thing in your life. I thought I was having heart attacks, high blood pressure, extreme aches and pains. I was thinking I was aging and rapidly. Maybe so, but once I got checked out with my doctor i finally knew it was grief related and just knowing this helped me focus on the real issue and I began to feel a bit better. I spend a great deal of time on me with out feeling guilty. If I am late cause I have to tend to my soul, so be it. I laugh at my forgetfulness because I am so thankful I have a purse to forget. Nothing is as bad as losing someone you love. I pay very close attention to my self while driving so I don’t forget to be safe. All your self help tools are very helpful. I am thankful for your posts. One day, one moment at a time. Even 2 1/2 years later.

  47. Since the death of my son I have experienced all of the above symptoms and ailments. As with all the grievers posting here, my world has been turned upside down and my balance and focus have been thrown off, literally, to the point where I fell down the stairs and broke my shoulder. While I was being treated I cried more for the loss of my son than from the pain of my broken should which lead me to tell the story of my son’s recent death to the doctor. He explained to me that it is very common for people who have suffered a major loss such as the death of a child to have accidents while grieving. I politely suggest you add this to the list of things to be careful of and to protect against. Thank you once again for a very informative post.

    • Kathleen, you have my condolences on the loss of your son. I lost my son Aug 26th 2016, and I too have suffered ‘accidents’. As a chronic pain patient already under the care of a specialist prior to my son’s death, I discovered a very disconcerting truth. After Ben passed away, I’ve had several incidents and accidents, multiple cuts and lacerations that should likely have been stitched, and two broken toes, one broken finger, and a cracked rib. The reason I didn’t even consider getting treatment was because the pain was so distant, and I was so numb and overwhelmed with grief, that it felt as if the physical pain belonged to someone else. None of those things were truly dangerous to my health, until, as the article mentions, my digestive system went haywire. I had become so adept at ignoring ‘discomfort’ that I didn’t realize the pain that I was experiencing was a warning sign. I was suffering a paralytic ileus, and when my spouse dragged me to the ER, imaging showed I was hours from a ruptured colon and esophagus. It may be wise to add to the list, pay attention to ALL you pain symptoms, regardless of how remote they feel. Tell someone you trust to be able to judge if it’s a serious enough issue to require attention, and let them attend to you.

      • Cat, my deepest sympathies to you as well. It is a very sad place to find ourselves in, grieving our sons. Your point is important, that we mustn’t ignore our bodies when they scream physically for us to pay attention. When I fell I was actually willing to stay where I was, face down on the tile floor in pain but not caring that my body was screaming get help. It took my husband and a stranger to convince me that it was important and worth picking myself up to get the attention I needed. I’m thankful they were there to talk me back into reality because I have others who need me to be healthy and strong. So thank you for the reminder to listen and pay attention and act when we need medical attention. Stay well.

  48. I lost my brother in the Vietnam War 8/26/1970 and then My mother six years later to Suicide. I can tell you all these years later, my health is not good, I have had Breast Cancer, Not since 2002.. I have Fibromyalgia, High B/P, PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, Raynaud’s Phenomenon, Essential Tremors, RA. Hair loss.eyesight
    Now I am not saying I wouldn’t haven’t had some of these anyway, but I do feel my health went downward, quickly after I lost my brother and even more so after I lost my Mother. It does take a toll on a person’s body, I really am a firm believer that it does.
    Take Care of yourself as much as you can, but that is easier said than done. If you can.. Be Gentle with yourself. Please do.
    Hugs To All <3

  49. I lost my brother in the Vietnam War 8/26/1970 and then My mother six years later to Suicide. I can tell you all these years later, my health is not good, I have had Breast Cancer, Not since 2002.. I have Fibromyalgia, High B/P, PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, Raynaud’s Phenomenon, Essential Tremors, RA. Hair loss.eyesight
    Now I am not saying I wouldn’t haven’t had some of these anyway, but I do feel my health went downward, quickly after I lost my brother and even more so after I lost my Mother. It does take a toll on a person’s body, I really am a firm believer that it does.
    Take Care of yourself as much as you can, but that is easier said than done. If you can.. Be Gentle with yourself. Please do.
    Hugs To All <3

  50. I lost my son on 4/8/16 since then I have had major trouble sleeping but also I am losing my hair. I have a spot that just won’t grow back.

  51. Wow! Thanks for the information. It has been a year since my son passed and I thought I was crazy because I have progressively gotten more fatigued. I am coming up on the 1st year of his passing March 24th. This month is getting more difficult, but now I understand that a lot that is going on with me may be from my grief. I am seeing a doctor regarding my medical issues just in case. I have not gotten to my new normal and just praying that I do. I still function sometimes as if I am in a dream or a fog, it still seems unreal. Thank you for giving information and for all of you who share.

    • Wendy I am so sorry you lost your son .My daughter died suddenly in an accident it will be 8 years ago on 24th March – after reading this article which described so many of the physical symptoms I have experienced since Sarah’s death I can now report my symptoms for the most part have reduced greatly.I have been racked with chronic pain all over my body – I thought it might have been fibromyalgia – I truly felt 100 yrs most days and so fatigued- 2 years ago after seeing a wonderful psychologist who used EMDR and helped me with mindfulness practice I am mostly pain free – just some pain on some days – strangly the pain increases around anniversaries- but I have my memory back and my ability to focus – I was in a fog for 6 years- forgot friends names couldn’t function well daily – but now I am doing better- the new normal I thought would never come did – all the tips in the article helped in some way .I feel joy again now it sits alongside my anguish and grief but there is a future I can imagine it now – I thought I never would. Sending you hugs for strength on your painful journey after losing your precious son .xx

  52. When my husband passed (exactly 4 years ago today on 3/1/13) I had to hold it together for my kids. My younger 2 were in middle & high school. My oldest graduated 2 months after my husband passed and his graduation was excruciatingly hard. But I was expected to smile and be social to put everyone else at ease. When school was out for the summer, I went to bed. Or lay on the couch. For two months until school was ready to start again. Everyone told me I had to pull it together, be strong for the kids, join the living, etc. For 2 years I was Susie Freaking Sunshine for everyone, I was the glue holding everything in place and smiling through it all, while my husband was sick and then dying from cancer. Everyone was so happy that I was the strong one who held our life together so they could fall apart. Then when I decided to take my due over that first summer, everyone acted like I had committed a heinous act. I felt sure I was going to die, I couldn’t stop eating, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t put two thoughts together, slept for days on end and was sure now I had gotten some disease that was going to kill me and leave our children orphans. I knew if I started to cry I wouldn’t stop because I hadn’t cried at all while my husband was sick. I knew all of this was normal from the hospice booklets and my doctor confirmed it. Yet somehow my family made me feel like I was in the wrong. I just wanted a break and to fall apart and to be babied a little and no one would let me–they made me feel guilty about being sick when I really wasn’t. I’ve learned that grief is an entity all it’s own and people aren’t really equipped to deal with it and I may never truly get to grieve the way I want to and someone is always going to feel I’m being selfish when I take a weekend to do nothing. They’re teenagers and can feed themselves so they’ll just have to deal with it. Life is a different normal now and that’s just the way it is.

    • Feb 28 was the one year anniversary of losing my best friend to cancer. We were really close for 25 years. I knew when he was going to die because I heard his voice in my head tell me he GOT to go HOME. that the family would call me within the hour, 45 minutes later got the call. II told my family then fell on the floor and screamed. Every cell in my body blew apart. i lost myself, my purpose, my goals, my world. I cried until my stomach hurt so bad I need medicine for 6 month. it still comes back about once a month. I slept weird. To much. to little. naps all day up all night. I didn’t dream for 10 months. I usually dream a lot. I don’t think i ever slept long enough at one time to get to ReM sleep. I couldn’t read my prayer book for 6 months, letters would not stay on the page. they flew around in a meaningless jumble. I couldn’t paint- I am an artist this was devastating! I kept painting, but i couldn’t concentrate long enough to do normal work. I threw paint at canvas and it was no more that a journal of pain. I still can not paint like I did. maybe I never will. About 4 month in a disc in my back slipped and I couldn’t move. I was hoping that the heart strings would break and give me broken heart syndrome so i could die too. but it was the strings in my back that broke. After that week in the hospital it was clear how bereaved I was and people tried to get me help. I ended up in ER with continued back pain and to be evaluated for a hospital day program. But when I said in frustration that they should just give me enough IV morphine to kill me., they decided to keep me as in inpatient in the psych unit. followed by 5 weeks in a day program. the back pain turned into sciatica and intense pain in my left leg above the ankle. In the hospital I started shaking from head to toe- like restless leg syndrome for the whole body. I had mood swings, pain, anxiety, panic, forgetfulness, NO ability to concentrate. I did not do activities of daily living like cook, or take a shower, or laundry. i sat in my chair and stared into space. My brain hurt my face hurt, my heart hurt. I couldn’t breathe. I cried in the grocery store, the mall, the car. I had a lot of chest pain. When my dreams came back my body started healing. I still have sleep issues, can’t concentrate, don’t paint like me, and have sever depression and no strong motivation to live. Fatigue is so deep i feel really debilitated.
      but i started cooking, shopping, getting dressed properly, and seeing people. The back pain is gone, the shaking stopped, and I cry less and more privately. I will never be the same again. I don’t think I will ever recover. I feel like we were so close – one heart-one mind, that when he left we were torn apart and every cell in my body explode and shattered. I have never felt so bad in my life. I see the stories of people who are further along in the process of adjusting and they give me hope that if I keep moving I will feel better.

      • I feel so Sorry, for your loss I go through similar bouts to My Mom passed away,Oct 13,2015 She was my everything we very Close I never wanted her to Die,I have Depression Sleeplessness Night,But I see a Therapist to Cope with the Stress.And try to keep Active for my well being,Try to stay focus and Busy Good Luck

      • Your post touched me. Susie Sunshine is the other me she has been my alter ego for a long time now. My teenaged Son was not sick but he died abruptly in late August of 2016. One of the things that vexes me now is how few of people who know me (either as friends or aquaintances) know me well enough to know that Susie is just a defense mechanism. Now that my son is gone and I’m just trying to make it through a day, these people seem to expect it/her from me. It makes ME angry. It makes me feel like they never knew ME at all. I have taken to sleeping on the recliner from 6:30AM to 9AM on the mornings that I am not obligated to go to town. I sleep through the phone, the tv, everything. Susie is not available. No fucks given. Its often the only time I sleep. Thanks for sharing.

    • I have been living in a similar situation for nine years….a prolonged grief whilst my husband slowly dies of MND (ALS). We have three children at home so they are experiencing the emotions that go alongside watching your dad graduallly turning into a ghost. The thing I find hardest and it gets worse as time goes on is that every wo/man and her/his dog feel they have a right to an opinion on how I should be reacting, behaving, feeling, conducting myself, thinking and most annoying of all, wife-ing….in a few cases they also see fit to let me know what that opinion is!

  53. It has been 7 months that my husband of 30 years passed away. I have everything you listed. My interests are gone. Seems like I have made all my friends mad. I already had anxiety and depression before Steve passed away. I am just not me. I don’t know if I ever will be again. If it was not for my faith in Jesus and knowing that we will be together again, I could not make it.

  54. I feel like I’ve started clenching my teeth in my sleep while awake since my Mother’s death last year. I really hope this stops soon before I get permanent damage. I also felt like I came close to a anxiety or panic attack once in a shopping mall but haven’t had that happen again.

    • While nothing can make the pain that causes you to clench go away, please ask your dentist for a mouth guard–the damage from grinding really can permanently damage your teeth, in addition to causing headaches and jaw pain. It can be terribly hard to seek care when we are suffering, but your dentist understands and wants to help you! As your grief someday softens and fades, you will be glad you saved your teeth.

      • Hi Jenny,
        Thank you for your advice, I did get a mouth guard. It looks like grinding can be caused by anxiety which makes sense as I never clenched my jaw or had anxiety until after my mother’s accident. I’m hoping that if I work on managing this anxiety, then I will be able to stop clenching my jaw.

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