The Body Trauma of Grief
By Dr. Nancy Gahles,DC, CCH, OIM
Grief is a physiological reaction to an event or events that you think should not have happened. The happening is one of loss. Loss is usually deemed as something that wasn’t timely. “It should not have happened, not at this time, too soon, too late”, are some of the laments one might hold inside. It is the bond, the affection attributed to the person, animal, possession or state of being that has been lost that triggers grief.
The mental state, the suffering or distress we experience as a reaction to loss is a felt state. It is felt in the body/mind. It is felt as pain in the musculoskeletal system as contractions, spasms, arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. The sensation expressed as a feeling that “I will never be the same again”, “ I am crippled”, “I am vulnerable”.
In reactions to sudden loss the visceral experience has been described as “a punch in the stomach”, as though “someone stabbed me in the back”, or “my legs went out from under me”. Grief, loss has devastating impact on the gut microbiome, the enteric nervous system, and may manifest as IBS, SIBO or gastritis.
The respiratory system can exhibit a state of collapse as in sensations described as, “it took my breath away”, “I almost fainted”. This expression of overt sympathetic stimulation can be addressed with vagal stimulation techniques that induce vagal tone such as breathwork alone or in conjunction with meditation.
Cardiac symptoms of grief can feel like heart palpitations, nausea and pressure in the chest. Indeed, researchers from Johns Hopkins called “Broken Heart” Syndrome real. They discovered that sudden emotional stress can result in severe heart muscle weakness that mimics a heart attack. Middle aged and elderly women were the most affected. The researchers found that people may respond to sudden, overwhelming emotional stress by releasing large amounts of stress hormones into the bloodstream.
These chemicals can be toxic to the heart, effectively stunning the muscle producing symptoms similar to a typical heart attack.
Prolonged and sustained rumination over the events is a feature of Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD). Persistent thoughts of the past or worrying about the future causes inflammation and a cascade of cytokines maintaining an inflammatory environment predisposing one to chronic pathologies. The practice of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teaches one to identify the thoughts/delusions which are maintaining the troubling state. Adaptive network nanomedicine provides resolution.
Grief is an acute reaction to the trauma of loss. When the acute phase passes the expectation of a resilient, healthy person is to integrate that experience rightly and move forward, grow from the event, learn from it, honor the passing.
All too often, there is not a system of educating ourselves in place as to how to grieve properly beyond the prescribed mourning period pertinent to your religious or individual beliefs.
In this case, the body trauma of pain persists. The mental state of acute shock develops into insidious sadness, anxiety or depression. Body parts develop disease.
The adaptation required for the whole person to integrate these experiences and return to equilibrium, ultimately self-regulation, is best addressed by Adaptive Network Nanomedicine, known in the vernacular as homeopathic medicine.
The homeopathic repertory is replete with rubrics that describe the totality of symptoms expressed in body/mind/spirit. Among the most common are: ailments from grief; ailments from grief suppressed; ailments from grief with anger; ailments from loss; melancholia, sadness; pain, back; chest pain; difficulty breathing; stomach, pain; abdomen, bloating; diarrhea alternating with constipation; weakness,fatigue; loss of libido.
The pharmacopeia of homeopathic medicines contains a vast selection from which to individualize treatment. Among the remedies for the acute phase of grief Ignatia Amara is a top favorite of mine particularly in cases of hysteria, weeping uncontrollably and wandering pains. Natrum Muriaticum is a remedy that appears in the cases of chronic grief wherein one cannot move on, cannot cry and dwells on the past disagreeable occurrence. Back pain, headaches, dyspepsia and heart disorders are all part of the totality of a person who may benefit from Natrum Muriaticum.
With understanding of your body as a vehicle for enlightenment, one can decipher the language that it speaks and use that to communicate skillful strategies for growth.
Awareness of your body/mind connection to events past, present or anticipated in the future is your key to liberation from suffering on a daily basis.
Stress is bearing the grief of being alive - Anonymous