“It’s like someone has sat on my chest.” “It starts with a tightening in the throat, it goes down to the stomach, and it seems that the heart will explode”. “Chest pain, shortness of breath, and a feeling that the throat will close.” “Nausea, numb hands and arms”. The above descriptions are from people who have lost someone dear. The grieving pains are real sensations and can be temporary or persistent. According to the British Psychological Society, as people often react differently to grieving, there is still no standard list of symptoms. Scholars, however, identify some of them: upset stomach, racing heart, shaking, and hypersensitivity to noise.
As the immunity lowers when you are in a long period of stress, losing someone you love can make you vulnerable to infections. A study by the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom found that people who have recently experienced grieving, especially the elderly, may have reduced neutrophil functions, which make up the white blood cells and help fight infectious diseases such as pneumonia. The altered defense mechanisms explain, for example, the death of one spouse shortly after the death of the other.
The fact that grieving does not classify, as pathology does not prevent the bereaved one from physically feeling their pain. They exist and are hardly cataloged: they are not objective and cannot be measured. “The body expresses itself through pain,” says Dr. Taty Logiodice, general practitioner specializing in integrative medicine. The doctor does not agree with the classification of “emotional pains” and “physical pains” and explains that they are caused by a physical or emotional problem, they are real pains that can have equal intensity. Pains in the heart, scholars report, are no mere figure of speech.
In research carried by the University of California, Los Angeles, it has been shown that the part of the brain that processes physical pain also processes emotional pain. Those who are suffering the loss of a loved one often report chest pains and palpitations. These may be, according to doctors, symptoms of a so-called “broken heart syndrome,” or Takotsubo’s heart disease, usually due to strong emotional or physical stress. Doctors believe that the syndrome is actually a defense mechanism of the heart to the adrenaline discharges that usually follow shock situations. Dr. Logiodice believes that these pains should not be underestimated and can and should be treated with both conventional antidepressant medications and alternative therapies such as reiki, art therapy, music therapy or acupuncture (the only one recognized by the Regional Medical Council) .
People do not usually talk about their pain because they fear they are just imagination. It is a great taboo: they suffer in silence, fearing to be suffering from sadness. And they can actually be. Dr. Taty Logiodice describes three levels of illness: the first level is the energetic, capable of causing discomfort. The second level is functional, which brings metabolic imbalances. The third is organic, in which evils such as gastritis may manifest. Listening to the expression of your body, recognizing pain, and especially speaking without fear about it, is the first and most important step to stop feeling it. Do not be ashamed to ask for help.