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Symptoms of Grief

Kathryn Patricelli, MA, edited by Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Though each person grieves in unique ways, there are common behavioral, emotional, and physical signs and symptoms that people who are grieving typically experience.

  • Physically, persons affected by grief may experience:
    • Fatigue and exhaustion alternating with periods of high alertness and energy
    • Temporary hearing loss or vision impairment (possibly associated with dissociation)
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Disturbed appetite (either more appetite or less appetite than normal)
    • Muscle tremors
    • Chills and/or sweating
    • Difficulty breathing or rapid respiration
    • Increased heart rate or blood pressure
    • Stomach and/or intestinal problems
    • Nausea and/or dizziness
  • Mentally, persons affected by grief may experience:
    • Confusion (memory, concentration, judgment and comprehension difficulties)
    • Intrusion (unwanted thoughts, arousal, nightmares)
    • Dissociation (feeling of detachment and unreality, disorientation, denial)
  • Emotionally, persons affected by grief may experience:
    • Shock
    • Fear, anxiety or apprehension
    • Anger, irritability or agitation
    • Guilt
    • Numbness, remoteness, depression