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Poor health and grief, the rarely discussed mind body connection.

Grieving is for a lifetime.
Grieving is for a lifetime.
Cristi Habermann

One of the most unexpected consequences of having my son die was the impact it had on my physical health. Insomnia, numbness, and fatigue began immediately. Chest pains were experienced almost on a daily basis. Jokingly, yet, being serious wondering if perhaps a heart can really be broken. Making a doctor’s appointment in an attempt to obtain some relief it was explained about the death of my son to the nurse. The doctor came in and never addressed the pain. This was so unexpected it was almost shocking.

Three doctors later the same pattern continues. In the meantime the body was breaking down. Within a year high blood pressure medication was prescribed along with numerous visits to the doctor for pain in the joints, and muscles. Over and over again each doctor ignored the glaring event staring in their face which was the grief.

Two years after my son’s death the medical problems continued to increase from a constant runny nose, digestive problems, and general feelings of un-wellness. Being a part of a support group opened the eyes to how common these health issues are to mothers especially that have lost children. Many women reported chronic medical problems. These medical problems were often triggered by the death of their children.

Family and friends were minimizing the medical issues believing it was imagined health issues. The doctors were kind of enough to not say it, almost.

For grievers this is a major part of the grief process. Adjusting to the changes in the mind, psychological changes, was difficult enough without having the body breakdown. It was shaming to have to address the health issues at family events. When asked what illness you had? There was not an answer except grief. Then the words of advice would start. Try getting out more with friends. Some days the energy to have a meaningful conversation was not there. How could getting out more with friends help? Words like lazy became of the vocabulary used in conversations you are not a part of.

An acceptance of the health breakdown is evolving within. Adapting to the changes such as napping, taking breaks when needed, and not being ashamed of not keeping up become a part of every day. The body breakdown has become a part of healing from the grief. It is another permanent loss which occurred with the death of my son. The honest truth is no one knows or understands the mind, body, or emotional connection which occurs with grief except for those who experience it. This experience is minimized by the people around us, who don’t believe grief can be a chronic illness.