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Living with a terminal illness and looking for support? Our Support Line team are here to help. 

 Reopens today at 11AM

by phone

 0800 090 2309 Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones. Find out more about our Support Line.

Physical symptoms of grief

Our bodies react to our feelings and it’s common for grief to produce physical symptoms. Even simple, everyday things like getting up in the morning, going to school, college or work, or talking to friends may be a huge effort. 

Here are some of the ways you may be affected:

  • overwhelming tiredness and exhaustion
  • restlessness ‒ feeling unable to sit still
  • aches and pains, eg headaches, backache, neck pain, rib and chest pain
  • anxiety attacks
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • comfort eating
  • finding it hard to sleep or fear of sleeping
  • difficulty concentrating.

How to cope

Grief can be very tiring so try to look after yourself as much as you can. Lack of sleep and not eating properly can also make other symptoms such as anxiety worse. Learning a relaxation or breathing technique may also help.

If you’re feeling anxious, some of this might be down to uncertainty about the future. You might find it gives you a sense of control to make a list of things that are likely to change, and things that will stay the same, now the person has died.

Physical activity can also be a good way get rid of tension and ease aches and pains, as well as helping you to feel more energetic and mentally positive. It can also help to channel any anger and aggression you may be feeling. Activities could include:

  • group sports, like football or rugby
  • solo exercise, like running or swimming.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel up to doing these things straight away. You can try them whenever you’re ready – take it at your own pace.

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