Physical Manifestations of Grief
A study conducted at the University of Birmingham shows that aging changes the way that our immune system reacts to grief and bereavement. Therefore, younger adults are more immune to physical effects of grief, while grief in older adults can open the door for infections and diseases.
As we age we produce less dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), which balances the stress hormone, cortisol. Grief increases cortisol within our system and without the necessary DHEAS to combat it, elderly adults are more susceptible to an unbalanced immune system, which increases risk of infection and worsens existing illnesses. Grief is also accompanied by some physical symptoms particularly stomach pain, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and loss of energy, which all also work to further decrease your immunity defenses.
How to Cope with the Death of a Loved One
For years, the grieving process has been known to come in the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Everyone copes with grief differently. However, it is important to go through the grieving process. You need to grieve in order to heal. This process may take six months, or it may take years. But here are some ways to help you through it.
Many people opt for trained professionals to help them through the process. Recently, a new psycho-sensory technique called Havening has been catching media attention. This technique helps people resolve traumatic events and associated negative emotions by delinking the event and the emotion. The amygdala is responsible for our feelings and a fear response within it is activated whenever you think about the event or loss. Havening techniques involve specific touches on the hands, arms, and face which releases delta waves and thaws out the thoughts that were freezing the amygdala. This is called synaptic depotentation and breaks the emotional reaction from the thought of the loss.
Taking Care of Yourself
During your process, it is important to take care of your health. Get plenty of rest, exercise, and food. Since grief results in a loss of appetite, plan your meals and go out to eat with friends and family members as this will help ensure you eat and build up your immune system. Finding purpose in an activity is also beneficial as a study by Met Life Insurance Company shows that a purpose in life for people aged 45-74 is what helps live a longer life. Spend time with your family, or find a relaxing activity to ease your mind.
Site last updated: 6. May 2021