By the time we reach midlife, there’s a good chance that we will have had some experience with grief. Whether we've mourned the death of a loved one, wrestled with the pain of a divorce, or lost access to the people and activities that bring us joy and fulfillment due to a chronic condition, coping with losses can be extremely challenging.
Adding to the burden of painful emotions, our modern culture tends to discourage expressions of grief and mourning. After a loss, it’s not unusual to receive advice from well-meaning people like, “just keep busy” or “it’s part of God’s plan.” And without supportive people and positive examples to turn to, you may find yourself questioning whether your experience is normal -- or trying to hide it from others.
While you should always check in with your doctor when you experience distressing or ongoing symptoms, it is also normal – and expected – for grief to impact your mental and physical wellbeing in direct proportion to the magnitude of your loss.
According to Dr. Don Eisenhauer in his book, A Coach Approach to Ministering to the Dying and the Grieving, it’s normal for someone who’s grieving to experience:
A decline in their ability to experience pleasure
Intrusive thoughts or inability to focus
Chest pains and heart problems
Inability to sleep or sleeping excessively
Increase or decrease in appetite
Feeling guilty because others have suffered or died
Increased irritability or angry outbursts
Increased allergic reactions
Shortness of breath
Gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, or excessive gas
Uncontrollable sighing and sobbing
These are just some examples of the mental, physical and emotional symptoms you might encounter during and after a significant loss. Whether your loss is ongoing or lives in your distant memory, grief can overwhelm you and disrupt your life in unexpected ways. If you’re going through a difficult life event, a professional grief coach or counselor can help you explore your feelings, honor your loss and begin to heal.
About the author: Eva Bender is a results-focused coach with professional certifications in health and wellness, grief and end of life, mental performance, and executive leadership coaching. Her extensive knowledge and compassionate approach make her an ideal resource for people who are navigating the mental, physical and emotional challenges of chronic health conditions. Schedule a free consultation with Eva here.