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Death & Dying

Symptoms of Grief

Kathryn Patricelli, MA

Though each person grieves in unique ways, there are common behavioral, emotional, and physical signs and symptoms that people who are grieving typically experience.

Physically, persons affected by grief may experience:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion alternating with periods of high alertness and energy
  • Temporary hearing loss or vision impairment (possibly associated with dissociation, see below)
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Disturbed appetite (either increased or decreased)
  • Muscle tremors
  • Chills and/or sweating
  • Difficulty breathing or rapid respiration
  • Increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Stomach and/or intestinal problems
  • Nausea and/or dizziness

Mentally, persons affected by grief may experience:

  • Confusion (memory, concentration, judgment and comprehension difficulties)
  • Intrusion (unwanted thoughts, arousal, nightmares)
  • Dissociation (intense feelings of detachment, unreality and denial)

Emotionally, persons affected by grief may experience:

  • Shock
  • Fear, anxiety or apprehension
  • Anger, irritability or agitation
  • Guilt
  • Numbness, remoteness, depression

 

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