Loss and grief

When grief makes you ill

The last five days before my father passed away, we as a family were all there to support him, and each other. It felt good, to all be together, but to see my father struggle and fight for his life, was a very traumatic experience.

Afraid of dying

My parents lived in Germany and the law there prohibits euthanasia. Small doses of morfine were supposed to help soften the pain, but wasn’t really sufficient at the end. That was the worst part. My father was afraid of dying. His fear, the terrible pain and fully aware of his own dying proces made it a traumatic experience.

Sick with sadness

At first, I hadn’t even realised something was wrong with me. I had sleepless night and I kept seeing those last images of my father in front of me. Felt intens grief. But these things are normal when you are grieving a loved one. I believed it would get better in time.

But it did not get better. It got worse. Each time I drifted off to sleep, I shot up in bed. With a blast of adrenaline shooting through my body. I was lucky if I got an hour sleep in every night. I started getting panic attacks. After a while I noticed concentration issues, became angry quickly and was a danger on the road because I couldn’t focus on the traffic anymore.


I went to the doctor. He sent me to a specialist in the hospital and after several examinations the diagnosis of Graves’ disease was established. An overly fast thyroid gland that can be triggered by a trauma event.

Later, when I received trauma treatment (EMDR) after my husband passed away, I realised I had needed this as well after watching my father die. Maybe I wouldn’t have become so ill.

Take vague physical complaints serious

So if you have vague, unexplainable physical complaints since the death of a loved one, don’t ignore it and ask for help.