Grief is not just emotional or psychological; it is also physical. It is important to attend to your physical health. Do not hesitate to consult with a trusted physician. Exercise and try to improve your eating habits. It will take time to begin to withdraw yourself from the comfort foods that may have become your staple diet during the first months or years of your grief journey.
The above is one of many truisms written by fellow grieving dad and friend Charlie Schmidtke. I met Charlie about a year and a half ago when I traveled to Buffalo, NY to interview several grieving dads for my upcoming book. At that meeting, Charlie gave me a list of 31 Truisms that he wrote in regards to what he learned from the death of his daughter.
I agree with this particular truism because I can relate with both the psychological and physical pain that sets in during grief. I recently read a statement that says, “mental health is physical health and physical health is mental health”. Both of these go hand in hand. They’re connected and even more pronounced under heavy stress. I was suffering from depression and anxiety (and several types of fears) from psychological standpoint. The physical health equated to chest pains, headaches, inability to eat or hold anything down, hair turning gray and extreme weight loss to name a few. Even through all of the pain, I still managed to work out as a way to control stress. The time running or pedaling gave me a chance to be by myself and process all of the “stuff” going on in my head. The following is something I recently came across in some writings I did during the early days of my journey:
“It’s like being dropped deep into a body of water blindfolded at night, you are alone and in complete silence except for what you hear in your head, you just don’t know which way is up. The fear sets in and you start to experience psychological and physical symptoms you may have never felt before. Fear turns to panic as you try to make sense of it all, grasping for help. Your nervous system has been impacted with almost irreversible damage, trauma, I’ve heard it described. Call it what you will, it doesn’t change the way you feel inside.
After you lose a child, you may no longer recognize the person in the mirror. You look vaguely familiar in physical features only. The look you see in your own eyes displays so much pain, pain that no one on the street recognizes and if they do, they haven’t inquired. That would make them to uncomfortable.”
– How are you attending to your physical health?
– Do you have any physical health issues related to the death of your child?
– What are your thoughts on this topic?