Guilt over how Mom died. How can I forgive myself?
I've posted a little bit about Mom's cancer here (and how on earth was I going to care for her!) and after all my grumbling about the road ahead her condition worsened in a short time and she died yesterday morning. She was 72. We elected not to tell her how advanced her cancer was - I wanted to but my sister did not. Every day the doctors would ask how she was feeling and she would say 'Oh, a bit better today'. The doctors also didn't tell her how sick she was.
I am wracked with guilt and anger with myself over her this and her last moments. I know it's early days and if anyone else told me this as their story I'd know exactly what to say to make it seem better. But I can't tell those things to myself.
We had been told she had maybe a few days or weeks at best, but she was still awake and lucid during the days (and parts of the nights) chatting and talking about different things like she always did. The night she died I stayed with her and she had a rough night - lots of pain, calling out for her Mom and my late Dad (her husband). She was woken early in the evening by a nurse to check her vitals and she was very distressed saying she couldn't wake up....why couldn't she wake up properly etc. When she did eventually wake up she said things like 'Whoa I thought I was dying there for a second'! We chatted throughout the night, she was very uncomfortable and the nurses gave her a lot of morphine and other things for pain. We watched tv, listened to music, chit chatted about inconsequential stuff and she kept thanking me and apologising to me for being a nuisance as she said. My chair was positioned to her left and if she couldn't see me she'd say 'Where are you MaryJane' and I'd swing my head around the bed to say 'Right here Mom'
The nurses came to reposition her and asked me to give them a few minutes. I went and dozed off in a chair for about an hour or so I think. I came back to her room and she was turned over staring toward where my chair was - breathing with her eyes open but not really responding. I called her name and she made a sound as if to say 'Yes?' and I went to ask the nurse if she was ok because she seemed off. The nurse reassured me she was ok, that she'd had a lot of pain relief and seemed comfortable now. I walked back to Mom's room and she wasn't moving, her oxygen line had become dislodged and though I put it right back on her she was unresponsive. I called the nurse and they confirmed she was gone.
I feel so badly that she was looking for me in that hour and had turned herself over to face my chair to see where I was. I worry that she was calling for me and I wasn't there. I'd been by her side through her entire illness and then when it came to it I wasn't. My sister is angry that I didn't call her to come in that night before it was too late. And I'm heartbroken that she ultimately died alone.
I know grief is a process and it's still very raw and will be for a long time, but how can I forgive myself? I was with her through everything and I feel like I abandoned her when it mattered most. I'm torturing myself with visions of her screaming for me and wondering why I wasn't there.