Mom died 5/26 - trying to work to sadness in grief process - stuck in painful. I should have not tried to get her extra PT at the rehab/restorative care center, I should have MADE her come home for Easter and when she started not feeling so well - despite her protestations, I should not have left her doctor make determinations via telemedicine...should have gotten her to the hospital sooner .. most of all biggest regret is not taking her home in the beginning from the initial rehab and encouraging her to continue working towards being a one-person assist . She wanted to come home - she needed 2 care givers, I should have just brought her home and gotten then despite her objections.
She did well initially at the rehab, then COVID, isolation, and she would not come home because she said the care was good and she was comfortable and looked forward to PT. If I had made her come home with me ( I told her I would be one of her caregivers just with one other person), her last weeks would have been peaceful and happier at home rather than at the rehab i am stuck with what my grieving mind tells me I can never fix , change or correct..Mom had wanted to come home in the beginning....and the initial decision had long-term consequences. I am partially responsible ... I tried to get her to agree, but she kept refusing for various reasons...then it was too late...she developed rapid liver failure and passed in hospice at the hospital with me with her. The guilt is affecting my work, my relationships, everything...all I want to do is tell her how sorry I am for not letting her just come home and pass here in peace when it was her time. I am in counseling and on medicine, but scared for myself ...need hope that the pain will eventually fade and some little self-forgiveness will seep in...God help me. God forgive me

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Stop entertaining the idea that you had control over your mothers death. You are saying that God didn't know what HE was doing. I am sorry if I seem harsh but you are torturing yourself over something that only God had control over.

Are you really just angry that your mom decided that she didn't want you to be her end of life caregiver? If that is the case, I want you to take that as the gift she intended it to be.

Stop beating yourself up over your lies. You dishonor her and God by your belief that you did this.

We had thought that my mom would pass away at home but we ended up taking her to hospice. I was getting up all through the night trying to get some morphine into her. I was not going to get any help from other members of family. I was a walking zombie - in fact her passing seems kind of unreal still to me. In hindsight, I guess that taking her to the hospital was not really helpful although it did buy her some time. The last visit, though, I said enough, with all the constant blood letting and bed changes. I know another caregiver who says that she should have taken her husband home - she didn't know how close to death he was so she left him in the nursing home. I think most people who are compassionate people do have some regrets and second guessing. You are lucky that you got to be with her at the end - I'm sure that she really appreciated that. Also you can't force people - even elderly - to do some things that YOU think they should do. You have to make the best decisions based on what you KNOW, and then understand that you did your best. Your mom forgives you, God forgives you, so you need to forgive yourself.

Wow!! You've really laid it on yourself! Your guilt is a choice you've made. If you continue to live in the "what if" world, you're in for a life of sadness. Your mother died. You didn't. You have a life to live and you can choose how to live it. You made the decisions you thought were correct at the time. How can you fault yourself for that? You ask God for forgiveness, but you've done nothing wrong. I'm sure your mother would tell you she's thankful for your care of her. Caregiving is "on the job training" and you make the decisions you think are correct at the time. It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. Grief is one thing... guilt is another. Everyone grieves over the loss of a loved one, it's a normal emotion. Grieving can last a couple of yrs but guilt must be resolved quickly. You must be a participant in your guilt recovery. "God helps those who help themselves". Look for support groups, many are virtual now, search your library for books on grief, they all contain chapters on guilt, ask your hospice agency for any grief programs, many funeral homes also offer these programs, or/and consult with your pastor. These are some suggestions.

Your counseling doesn't seem to be very effective. Is he/she trained as a GRIEF counselor? Do you feel you're getting your money's worth? Doesn't sound like it.

Don't be a victim to guilt. Live a better life, not a bitter one. I wish you luck and the strength to resolve this guilt.

Laurabelle, This is now I think number four message to us about the guilt specifically. You told us I think two messages ago that you are working with a grief counselor. I am sorry to think that she is not really helping, and that you are still stuck right here. This is something that you are choosing and on NPR recently I heard a program about guilt and mourning. Mourning can sometimes seem too difficult, and some will choose to stay in guilt in order not to have to work through loss and grieving.
You have mentioned medications. I hope those aren't anti-anxiety meds as those are depressants. In fact, even anti-depression medications can works as depressants. If you have been on these medications for several months now and have no relief of them I would report that to your counselor or MD prescribing.
You say you believe in God. You ask him to forgive you. Do you imagine a God who would not? That is to say is there some teachings you have by background of a demanding and unforgiving God? If so that will be quite difficult to overcome.
I am sorry you are so stuck here, because you are forming a path for yourself that you are treading in a circular manner, like the mill horse who is finally over his life work of walking in a circle pulling the millwheel, now let out to pasture in a beautiful field, he chooses instead to walk a path around and around a tree. The story is an old one by Marguerite Henry that I read as a child. It is called "The Routine of Happiness". It was what the horse chose for himself. It was a kind of happiness for him, one he chose for himself. It is worth thinking about.
The fact is that this pain may lessen with time. As the counselors on NPR said, guilt can be a refusal to move forward. Some people choose guilt because they feel if they let go of it they thereby let go of the person, that they then must move into grief.
You mention other people are now being let down by you, and so you add them to your guilt basket, instead of having to making a life with and for the living.
There is no one of us, should we be lucky enough to live long enough, who will not lose our parent. This is the progression of life. If we are lucky we do not feel we really every lost them; we feel them with us, so often in our gentle loving memories.
Only time will tell what the outcome will be Laurabelle, for you, but some of it is within your own choice. Some of it involves HARD WORK you may not be ready for.
Your mother would not want this for you. In early May I lost the best man I ever had in my life. My brother was with me always throughout my life, my touchstone, the person always there for me; when we lived miles apart we wrote long long letters to one another. I was not even able to be a comfort to him and to be with him at the time of his death. I miss him. But he would have wanted me to take joy in our love, joy in our lives so long lived having one another. I would feel, in fact, that I was letting my bro down if I stayed mired in pain because he did finally have to let me down, in fact to let me ALONE here to negotiate the world without his support, without his advice, without his sharing. I write him long letters in a journal I decorate and collage. I celebrate him along with all that was good in life. I honor him with joy, with every good thing I see, with my determination to make this a better world for those who need me.

Wonderful advice. Grief and guilt can overwhelm a caregiver because there is always "what if".

Laura, give yourself permission to be human and to realize that it is possible that your Mom's life "might" NOT have been better if she had gone home instead of staying at the facility.


Dear Laura, grief is a difficult thing for everyone. I think everyone blames themselves for something about a death. “If I hadn’t let my son drive to that party, he’d still be alive” can be as bitter as the second guesses you are having. However no-one knows what could have gone wrong if they had made the different choice. It could have been worse, you simply don’t know.

You can say “I wish I had done things differently”, but also ask yourself some questions:
* Did I think at the time that I was doing the right thing? Did I have best intentions?
* Did I forsee CoronaVirus and its impact?
* Did mother agree with coming home and hiring extra carers? You say that she objected. Were you willing THEN to over-ride her wishes about that? Do you know how things would have gone if you had?
* Would liver failure have let her pass in peace at your home?
* Are you clairvoyant? Are you God?
* Would your mother want you to be in so much distress now?

You have nothing to feel guilty about, even though you have things to regret. Remind yourself that you tried to do your best, with love. There is nothing you need to forgive yourself for. Give yourself the peace and love that you wish for your mother. I know that I tried to do my best for my own mother, and it is a consolation for me that I wish for you too.

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