Not feeling well? Not surprising when you’re grieving. (Grief & your health, Site Guide #4)

A lot of people struggle with their health following bereavement. This post links to articles about the impact that grief can have on our health and ideas of what we can do about it.

Grief and our health
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Grief can make you sick, but it doesn’t mean that it will.

 

It’s quite common in the acute early days of bereavement to not feel like eating or not be able to sleep. As time goes by, we might continue to find it tough to motivate ourselves to take proper care of ourselves, and eventually that can have an impact on our health. Loss of appetite – or overeating ‘comfort foods’, loss of motivation for exercise and activity, or turning to drink or drugs to dull the pain are part of this picture. The actual stress and trauma of our loss can also have a physical impact.

Read more about this topic here: Links between grief and poor health

This article looks at these issues & links to some scientific articles. It includes some ideas for taking better care of ourselves to hopefully mitigate some of these problems.

 

Grief is exhausting 

The emotional turmoil of grief can make us feel very tired. Add that to disturbed, sleepless nights, and it can mean we end up quite exhausted. This exhaustion can become part of a vicious cycle, as it tends to amplify our emotions.

Practical ideas here about managing your sleep,  including tips for getting to sleep:

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This is a more general article about how grief is exhausting, and again, some ideas for managing it:

 

Mental health

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Grief is not a mental illness, but it can make an existing mental health condition worse, and/or it could bring on depression, especially if it is complex and prolonged grief. If this rings a bell, you might find this one interesting.

 

Taking care of ourselves

A good diet, adequate rest, some exercise in the fresh air can only do us good. Here are some thoughts about other aspects of self-care.

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Few of us feel as calm as this koala bear (spotted in the wilds of the Gold Coast in Australia). Can we learn to ‘be’?

 

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Continuing the theme of ‘being’: allowing ourselves to enjoy something simple or profound needs to be part of our lives if we’re going to cope with our grief. However, sometimes we struggle to do it. We feel guilty, like we are being disloyal to our loved ones who passed away. “They’re not here to enjoy it, so how can I?” we might think to ourselves.

It can be so hard to get past this type of guilt. So difficult to allow ourselves to find enjoyment in the things that we enjoy. It can be a real accomplishment when we manage to start enjoying our lives and accepting the better moments when they come.

Quieting our minds, stilling our bodies

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It is not always easy to find stillness of mind. I think when we are in the throes of raw grief our minds race and it is more likely we find ourselves bewildered and confused. The clarity that can come from stillness may not be accessible to us in those early months and years.

One way of relaxing is finding some activities that occupy the senses but don’t have any tension as far as the outcome. In other words, we enjoy the process of the activity without worrying much about the end product. Something that includes physical action, perhaps repetitive, can be really quite therapeutic.

Some of my own experiences of this:

 


If you have found anything on this page helpful, please share! Comments are also welcome along with suggestions for other links and articles. 

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This Bush Wallaby I came across in Lane Cove Park, Sydney, seems to be taking pretty good care of itself.

This blog is written through the prism of my own experiences, particularly as a bereaved mother, but it also reflects what I am learning as I work with and support others who are grieving.  You may have different perspectives – we each have a unique experience of loss and our own beliefs.
You can find more to read here
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