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Grief is not just an experience of the head and heart. Rather, grief is a whole body experience, impacting the individual physically, emotionally, spiritually, and cognitively. The list of ways in which grief may manifest itself is almost endless. While most people recognize grief when it comes in the form of sadness, tears, and loss of interest in normal activities, most do not recognize grief in the form of anxiety and frustration. These too are very common “faces” for grief. Further, very few people recognize the physical nature of grief; headaches, intestinal distress, shallow breathing, and extreme fatigue to name just a few.

Because grief is for most people an extremely stressful experience, the body responds in a very physical way. The body absorbs fluids more quickly during grief. Thus, hydration is extremely important. Because grief may last for a long period of time, the body remains in this high-stress mode for some time. Certainly, recent research has proven the toll that stress can take on the body. Thus, managing the grief to reduce this stress is critical. At [the Austin Center for Grief & Loss], all groups begin with a relaxation exercise. Participants say they did not realize how they were carrying themselves until they experienced the relaxed state once again and felt the difference. Other resources for healing include massage therapy, walking, and other forms of exercise, meditation and healthy eating.

Copyright 2012 The Austin Center for Grief & Loss

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