Grief is not an easy emotion to understand and has, hence, accumulated several misconceptions over time. Because so many of us are accustomed to associating grief with the searing pain in the chest and hollowness, we often mistake it to be something that affects the heart only.
‘Emotions affecting the heart’ is an abstract idea in itself, but the concept also indirectly distances the rest of our existence from it. In reality, grief is too complex, and its affects people in different ways. Studies have shown that grief affects both our minds and bodies.
This blog post will explore our diverse reactions to grief to elaborate on the depth of impact it has on us.
How Grief Affects Mind, Body, and Soul
As mentioned above, our notions of grief’s impact on the heart tend to be abstract, but there is also a physical aspect to it. Research has proven there is a link between severe grief and an increased risk of heart attacks. However, that is not the only effect grief has on us.
Following are ways in which grief affects us:
1. Emotional Regulation Imbalance
Lisa Shulman, a neurologist, has explored how grief affects the mind extensively. One of her findings revealed that while the impact of grief may not always show up in an MRI scan, the results reveal themselves through an imbalance in emotional regulation.
The brain’s attempts to cope with the trauma force it to restructure itself, disrupting regular emotional functioning.
2. Worsened Memory and Learning
Aside from emotional imbalance, the mind also struggles with learning and memory creation. The brain focuses attention on coping with the emotional trauma, which disrupts mental focus. Since the ability to focus is imperative for learning and memorization, grief worsens a person’s ability to learn and memorize new information.
3. Poor Immunity
It is common for stress levels to rise when someone is grieving. Several studies have established an inverse correlation between stress and immunity, which means elongated grief can worsen immunity.
The claim is not unfounded because sickness and fragility are often common in people who suffer through long-term grief. Therefore, it is critical to find healthy coping mechanisms to help the body slowly recover before it deteriorates too much.
4. Digestive Issues
Digestion is surprisingly easily affected by emotional state. Several studies have shown how excessive stress or anxiety causes digestive conditions like IBS or minor ulcers. Grief also has a deep emotional impact and can cause digestive problems in the body.
5. Loss of Connection with Self
‘Soul’ isn’t as objective a concept as the mind and body; however, we often use the term to describe our holistic experience of existence. This experience focuses on our connection with our ‘self’ and ‘surroundings,’ both of which become disrupted while we are grieving.
Some people temporarily lose their sense of connection with both aspects and continue to live with emptiness and uncertainty until they find healing.
Understanding how grief affects us and the depth of its impact is a critical part of the healing process. We cannot solve a problem we know nothing about.
I hope you found this blog informative and will use the information to help you with grief recovery.
You can also read my books, each elaborating on grief for people suffering from it.