Michael C. Hall holds his upper abdomen/lower chest a day after he announced his breakup with wife and co-star Jennifer Carpenter. When a person holds his abdomen or chest, particularly when the palm makes contact, not just the fingertips - this can be a sign of major emotional distress. There is also subtle contracture of his central, lower forehead - which is also a significant sign of distress. We can all empathize with feeling similar emotions "in the pit of our stomachs".
It's interesting to note that usually there is a correlation between how recent and sudden the event is (not necessarily the severity) and how high a person touches - covering the chest is more significant than the abdomen - progressing to the neck, mouth and even eyes. A notable exception to this is seen in pregnant women - they will instinctively protect their child and cover their lower belly.