When I suddenly lost my fiancé in a car accident, my body had a traumatic response to the situation. When we grieve the loss of someone we love so much and who had such a profound impact on our life, we do not get to choose how our body reacts. We can’t place an order to God and say, “God, I would like to be able to eat today without getting sick,” or “I would like to be able to sleep tonight at a normal time and without nightmares, disturbing dreams and constant waking up.”

If only grief work was that easy.

One of the most difficult things for me during the first year was the physical effects that grief has had on my body. Living with grief is hard enough; then, to have all these physical symptoms makes it even harder to bear, and at times, the effects of grief are unbearable.

My body went through a trauma emotionally when I lost Greg and it went through the ringer physically as well. My body type is athletic and I am average height, so my pre-widow body was slender and toned.

When Greg’s accident happened, I had the normal loss of appetite, nausea, upset stomach, etc. Except these things lasted well beyond the first month, 6 months, and 1 year mark. In fact, these are still symptoms that I struggle with today, and I am over a year and a half into this journey.

I was physically nauseated every day for the first 6 months. I am not one to tolerate nausea under normal circumstances, how the heck did I go for 6 months?! I also had a very difficult time keeping food inside my body. It did not matter what I ate or didn’t eat, I still got severely sick to my stomach from almost everything that I ate.

In fact, I have developed an intolerance to chicken. Who would have thought? Chicken?  But that meat sure makes me want to run the other direction. Being average height and athletically built, I already had a small body weight, and with these symptoms I lost almost 15 lbs, in a very short time period. I felt like I was starving all the time and it was not by choice. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror, when I did I wanted to scream or throw up because I became more nauseated by how I looked.

Along with grief, my new best friend is insomnia. It does not matter how tired I am, I could run myself ragged on three hours of sleep and still not be able to fall asleep until 5am or later the next morning. I am just about to fall asleep and I find myself wide awake again, for no apparent reason.

I have tried various forms of sleep aids, herbal remedies, various relaxation techniques,  none of which really bring any form of significant relief.

In addition to the insomnia, I still have nightmares or violent and/ or disturbing dreams; at least once a night. I wake up more times that I can count; some nights I wonder if I should’ve just stayed awake. During my first year of widowhood, more times that I can count, I went a day or two without any sleep and just dragged through the whole day. I never feel “rested;” usually, I feel just as bad when I wake up as I did when I finally fell asleep.

Isn’t enough to lose our beloved?

Brandi Reyna 2011

Brandi Reyna

Ms. Reyna is a creative soul with a passion for helping others. Her faith is very important to her and is reflected in her writings. She writes about her faith and the role it plays in her grieving process and how she grieves. Ms. Reyna's purpose for writing is to give voice to and shed light on unique losses. Ms.Reyna's articles focus primarily on building and living a new life after the sudden loss of her fiancé; the subsequent grief associated with sudden loss, her identification as an "unwedded widow" (a widow who was not legally married to her beloved), loss of a parent (grandparent) and creating a new life while living with loss. Ms. Reyna shares her journey to encourage others in their own faith and in their own healing journey. She hopes that by sharing her story and leading by example through her own life that her journey will show others that we can experience significant and impactful losses and still experience a full and joy-filled life after loss. Ms. Reyna holds a Master of Arts degree in Professional Studies with a specialization in Counseling.

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