Grief is a normal and natural response to loss that can feel impossible to cope with. In some cases, grief can lead to a decline in both physical health and mental health. When people think of grieving, they automatically associate it with the death of a loved one. But grief comes for many reasons—the loss of a friendship, the loss of a job, the ending of a relationship, and more. No matter the reason, it can take a serious toll on you. Of all the things you can do for yourself or a loved one to help, the most critical is understanding the grieving process.
There are five stages of the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Everyone will experience these stages at different times, for different lengths, and in a different order. Making the grieving process unpredictable and unique for everyone. In short, there is no wrong or right way to grieve. Although denial is usually the first stage and acceptance is the last stage, there is no particular order to these stages.
The grieving process impacts physical health in many ways because the connection between emotional and physical health is so strong. Sadness, regret, guilt, anxiety, and frustration can lag on for weeks or months. Prolonged exposure to these emotions has serious implications on physical health, including:
Children are at a higher risk of having a complicated grieving experience because their brains are not fully developed, meaning they have a more difficult time regulating their emotions. They are also less likely to recognize or express their need for extra support. Minority groups are also at a higher risk, due to provider bias and the inability to gain access to appropriate support. These conditions are all linked to higher risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and substance abuse.
Grief is a sudden and traumatic experience. Having a good understanding of how it affects your health, along with good support, will help you or a loved one get through it more easily. When coping with grief of any kind, it is important to have the support of loved ones and those who understand how you feel. One way to do this is to seek out a support group that specializes in the type of grief you’re experiencing (i.e. infertility, job loss, death of a loved one, death of a child, etc..). Another great option to help process and heal is grief counseling. If you or someone you know is grieving, Medens Health is here for guidance and support with both in-person and virtual counseling. Contact us by phone or text at (833) 624-5400, or by filling out our online contact form.