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What causes stress during bereavement?

Stress can skyrocket during bereavement. The massive adjustments to change demanded of you can repeatedly trigger the stress response, a cascade of hormones that prepares your body to fight or flee. Unless feelings of stress are given an outlet, physical and psychological symptoms—such as a clenched jaw, shakiness, and anxious feelings—tend to compound. This fuels a negative, self-perpetuating cycle of stress.

Bereavement stirs up many sources of stress. Tempers may flare among family members brought together by a death. Finances may be pinched. Work obligations may loom within days of the funeral. The gap between all that needs to be done and all you feel you can do may widen every day. Small wonder researchers have noted heightened levels of key stress hormones in bereaved subjects. Many investigators believe that over time these physiological changes trigger physical ailments. They may even help explain higher rates of mortality among certain groups, such as elderly widowers.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.