Grief is a natural part of human life, whether it's for a pet who met an untimely fate or a family member who's passed. But you may be surprised to know just how much grief can affect your physical health. Scientists are increasingly discovering that grief is a bodily phenomenon that has serious and wide-ranging effects on human health, from cognition to digestion to the way we sleep.
"Grieving is as much physical as it is emotional," Josh Klapow Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. Humans appear not to be the only animals who grieve; evidence suggests that other species, including dolphins, apes, and birds, may exhibit behaviors that are consistent with mourning and missing a companion who's passed on (though because we can't ask animals about their emotions, we can't be precisely sure). And being flattened by grief is a more holistic experience than many of us had ever imagined, encompassing many disparate areas of human health.
One thing's for sure: if you're in the midst of mourning, your feelings are valid, and you should not be pressured into "just getting over it." But if your grief is beginning to affect you physically in the ways outlined below, it may be worth speaking to a doctor about how to heal.
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