A note from Kelly King: During this season of preparing our hearts toward Easter, it’s a good time to remember Christ’s humanity and how He physically responded to grief as He faced the cross. You, too, may have physical manifestations in the midst of responding to loss. In today’s article, Kaye Hurta provides some common responses our bodies may experience.
When one considers the journey of grief, we naturally think of its emotional implications. We may have a tendency to focus on the emotional landscape in isolation to the rest of the person. But have you considered how your physical body responds to loss and grief? Our single personhood is created with three distinct parts; we are body, soul, and spirit. Whatever we experience in life—joy, trauma, pain, loss, illness—is never experienced in isolation. Rather, it affects every part of our being. It is no different with loss and grief.
Loss of any kind is a disruption to our emotional ladndscapes and can shake our spiritual footing. Our bodies also respond to grief and loss. Here are just a few common physiological responses to grief and loss:
- Hair loss
- A metallic taste in your mouth
- Changing taste buds
- Dry skin/change in nail beds
- Digestive problems
- Foggy thinking, inability to focus (“grief brain”)
- Weight gain or weight loss (it has never been weight loss for me!)
- Reoccurring illness due to suppressed immune system
- Chills or night sweats
- Too much sleep or too little sleep
- Aches and pain (headaches, joint pain)
If you or someone you know is grieving a loss and experiencing physical symptoms, this is a normal part of the process. The best advice when physical symptoms are present is to check first with your physician to rule out anything serious. If everything checks out, could it be you are grieving loss in your life?
Without trying to be overly simplistic, think of it this way: imagine all three parts of you (body, soul, and spirit) are responsible for carrying the weight of whatever is happening in your world. When there is a loss, “soul” is your first responder with all the feelings and thoughts. “Spirit” picks up her part of the load with questions and maybe even doubts. It is only natural to assume that “body” will carry weight that “soul” and “spirit” have no more strength to carry.
So the next time you are hearing someone’s story, and they lead off with physical complaints and symptoms, listen for loss in their story. Help them to identify and name the loss they are experiencing. A good next step is always a referral to a counselor and a grief support group.
When Jesus was facing the loss of His own life, He prayed in a garden. He cried out (His soul responded), asking His Father for any other way (His spirit responded), and under the weight and stress of what was to come, His body responded by sweating blood. Should it be that we respond any differently to our loss?
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.