H for Health (A to Z of Grief)

Why do I care so much about helping people move through the grief process? One reason is that it takes such a toll on health. Usually when people think of mourning and the feelings that it carries with it, they think of emotional and mental health. But I’ve found that physical health suffers as well.

The stress and internal conflict and energy required to hold down or feel a lot of feelings ‘all the time’ can affect physiology. The body tends to react in the same way it does when it is under immediate threat, putting some aspects of the body on high alert. Over time, if the threat or concern is not resolved, the entire system can be compromised.

Imagine a fist – when you first make it, it feels strong. But if you hold it, over time it may start to hurt, and then it may feel numb (with the blood constricted from holding the fist). That’s the same process emotional crisis tends to go through – feelings are good for us as indicators, yet over time they lose their impact and reason for being.

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