The Effects of Grief on the Body

After losing over 900,000 Americans to COVID-19 within the past two years, there are many people across the country navigating the painful process of grief.

Here at Cypress Lawn, we want our neighbors in San Francisco and the Bay Area to know they are not alone in their grief and want to offer our wholehearted condolences. To help everyone better understand the physical symptoms involved with mourning the loss of a loved one, we’ve decided to take a deeper look at how grief affects the body and overall physical health.

The heart

During the onset of grief, many experience an increased heart rate and higher blood pressure. Grieving individuals may also suffer from chronic inflammation or increased risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular disorders.

The immune system

Emotional stress can lead to an increased risk of catching colds or other common ailments. When grief takes hold, the body releases cortisol and other stress hormones, which can leave the body in danger of infection.


Grieving a loved one can throw off our eating schedule and lead to the development of unhealthy eating habits as a result. Oftentimes, those who are grieving either eat too much in an attempt to self-soothe or may lose their appetite and eat too little. Others may experience diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, and nausea.

Sleep disorders

Similar to the way grief can disrupt our eating habits, it can also interfere with our sleep schedules. Those who are grieving tend to sleep either too much or too little. Insomnia is a common side effect of grief, but in most cases, can improve over time.

The muscles

Intense or ongoing grief can lead to muscle weakness and physical fatigue. You may feel body aches and pains due to increased stress levels in the body.

The brain

Long-term grief can lead some to suffer from brain fog or short-term memory loss. It may also be difficult to make daily decisions or to problem solve.

A note on grief

Though grief can create debilitating physical effects, health professionals want to remind

those who are facing the loss of a loved one that your body is resilient. You will eventually learn how to coexist with both love and grief alongside each other.

If you’re experiencing persistent physical symptoms such as those listed above, we recommend making an appointment with a healthcare or mental health professional to address these as well as the underlying issues surrounding your grief.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any grief-related questions or concerns, and our compassionate staff will do their best to assist you.