A Crash Course in Surviving Divorce – Part V

Today, I think it’s important to speak specifically about the fact that the grief we experience during the divorce process can negatively affect our bodies and physical wellbeing. This is particularly significant in my Crash Course in Surviving Divorce Series because to actually survive divorce, it is important to understand that there are real dangers to your physical wellbeing as you go through this process. Your health is in a more precarious position while going through this life-altering event. (Did you know that?) I do not say this to cause more fear and anxiety, but rather to arm you with the facts and to validate why you might be feeling unwell..

There is a lot of scientific data on this subject, and though much of it focuses on grief over the death of loved one, it is also true that the grief experienced when we lose a life-partner through divorce, creates the same kinds of physical problems within our bodies.

On a positive note, most of these concerns can be alleviated by taking excellent care of yourself, through physical movement, diet, good sleep habits, self-care, self-acceptance, religious practice and spirituality, tapping into family and friends, and creating/joining a community for yourself. It is best for your wellbeing and longevity to allow the emotion of grief to exist and not to bury it within yourself. Grief, if allowed to work its way through your system, will do so in a natural process that is essential for healing. If you bury your grief, it will inevitably cause even greater problems in your body and life.

Many of our organs and body systems are affected by grief. Here are some of the organs and systems most often compromised, the heart, immune system, adrenal glands, brain, and the entire body system.

The issues that can occur when our physical systems move into overdrive to deal with our grief are, sleep problems, general fatigue, immune issues, digestion concerns, aches and pains, prolonged rise in cortisol (which can adversely affect nearly every system), anxiety, heart rate, broken heart syndrome, and a higher risk for heart attack.

Even though our physical body can be adversely affected, it is essential to know that grief is a normal emotion that should be processed. When we handle this emotion appropriately, most often there will be no long-lasting, negative effects. As seen in this quote from the WebMd article above. “Most often, normal grief does not require professional intervention,” says Zisook. “Grief is a natural, instinctive response to loss, adaptation occurs naturally, and healing is the natural outcome,” especially with “time and the support of loved ones and friends.”

In conclusion, I hope that you will take away several points. Our bodies (as well as our hearts, minds, souls) are affected by grief. There are direct links to organs and systems that can become compromised during the grieving process. This is normal and when we allow ourselves to feel the emotions, and then take healthy, empowering, supportive steps to build ourselves up and protect our health and wellbeing, we will be able to weather the storm of grief and integrate this experience into our whole self in a way that delivers us as a healthier, more resilient, more grounded, understanding, and compassionate human being.

Weekly Dose Divorce Support Group

Denise Palmer


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