Physical wellbeing

Grief is experienced in your body too. The shock of the loss, even if you were expecting it, can trigger the release of adrenaline and other chemicals that can make you feel anxious and lead to a range of other symptoms.

Feeling tense, experiencing headaches, feeling sick, unexplained aches and pains, and a tight feeling in the chest and stomach are all common physical responses to grief.

Physical reactions caused by the emotional strain of grief can, in turn, affect your ability to manage your emotions and think clearly. It is a good idea to talk to your doctor about any physical issues that are worrying you or making it harder to cope.

Learn more about these common physical responses to grief:

  • Sleep issues – Many people who are bereaved find that their sleep patterns change. Some people find it hard to get up in the morning and end up oversleeping, while others struggle to fall asleep and/or stay asleep.
  • Exhaustion – Don’t be surprised if you have no energy and feel constantly tired. Adjusting to any major change is exhausting, and too little or too much sleep can make you feel even more tired.
  • Changed appetite – Having little appetite or an increased appetite are both common responses. Some people may also experience an upset stomach.

Tips for looking after your physical wellbeing

  • Get some exercise every day. A walk in the morning can shift your mood, clear your head, raise your energy levels for the day and make it easier to sleep at night. You might also like to try swimming, dancing or playing a team sport. Even giving the house a vacuum or mowing the lawn can help if you’re feeling tense.
  • Try to maintain regular sleeping hours, going to bed and getting up at set times. Oversleeping can leave you feeling even more exhausted.
  • Don’t panic if it is hard to sleep. Get out of bed and do something relaxing, such as reading a book or having a bath, and then try going to bed again. Check with your doctor before trying sleeping tablets or natural sleep remedies.
  • Talk to your doctor about seeing a psychologist for some simple strategies (such as tracking and adjusting your night-time routines) if your lack of sleep is ongoing.
  • Encourage yourself to eat a healthy, balanced diet. If you have lost your appetite, snack frequently on nourishing, easily digested foods.
  • You may find you are eating unhealthy foods or large amounts for comfort. A poor diet can affect your mood, so explore other ways to help yourself feel better, such as getting fresh air and exercise in a park, listening to music, or having a bath or massage.
  • Consider learning meditation or relaxation to help with the anxiety that may trigger sleep issues and stomach upsets. You can listen to our meditation and relaxation recordings right now.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on understanding grief.

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

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To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
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Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

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Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
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Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in April 2017
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Cancer information

Emotions and cancer
People who are affected by cancer in some way can experience a range of emotions, that can be very challenging to deal with at times. Learn more.

End of life 
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