For the elderly, grief can be not just an emotional experience but also a physically damaging one. Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. found that age changes how the body's immune system responds to grief.
They found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation.
The study states around age 30 an important stress hormone called DHEAS begins to decline, and the elderly only have about 20 percent of the DHEAS they did when they were younger.
Researchers think this shortage of hormones might be what causes the immune system to respond so negatively to stressful situations. In this case, we mean the development of infections as a result of a weakened immune system.
Studies have previously linked heart failure to grieving adults as well. The American Heart Association calls this "broken heart syndrome."
And whether it's the immune system or the heart, researchers say grief-related illnesses could even lead to death.
Which is why some have suggested cases like this are related: the passing of Don and Maxine Simpson, a California couple who made international headlines when they died just hours apart.
Maxine was suffering from cancer when Don broke his hip and experienced a series of health problems as a result.
According to their granddaughter, the two lived out their last few weeks together before dying four hours apart.
DHEAS does come in supplement form, and researchers say they're considering looking into whether these supplements would help elderly people suffering from grief.