I am aware that guilt seems to go with losing a loved one. It seems I had guilt with several extended family members that have passed away, but I’m suffering a terrible amount over my husband’s passing. I cared for him about three years before he passed away. He was wheelchair bound and refused to keep blood sugars in check no matter how much I pleaded. We were married 48 years and have 5 children and 8 grandchildren. Our marriage became a bit trying ten years prior to his many health issues when I went through menopause and lost interest in sex. He had diabetes and thus couldn’t perform. I admit I had little interest in even kissing, though I loved him dearly. After he had heart surgery his health continued to decline.
During the last two years of his decline I accidentally found out that he had been meeting up with a woman that was not only beautiful, but the same age as our oldest child. No doubt at all that the woman took up with him for monetary gain. Evidently he had cut it off with her when his health became an issue. I was very angry and we had it out, but I forgave him and knew he desperately needed me as he was disabled. I took very good care of him and enjoyed his company and we had some laughs, etc. for quite some time. The caregiving was taking a toll on me and I felt so tired. Things got worse and he couldn’t even stand up so I bought a lift machine. As things got worse he had bowel issues, diabetic ulcers on feet, nausea and vomiting. It was bad. We went to ER and they wanted to amputate his leg but his lungs kept filling with fluid. They kept draining them. I was at the hospital around the clock and was exhausted. He was moved to ICU and during that time I sat in chair in his room day and night. He was out of it so I hardly ever even got up as they had a nurse around the clock in the room with us. During the night on the 2nd day in ICU I suddenly had a knowing that his life was ending. I just felt it as no one said anything. The next morning a dr took me in the hall and said he wasn’t going to survive. I told them to remove all machines and they did.
I was trying to make arrangements to take him home to die. He wasn’t responsive though his eyes were open. We gathered around him and prayed and played his favorite worship music. He continued to breathe though not responsive. I ended up in the waiting room for a good two hours talking to family and trying to make arrangements to move him when my daughter ran out and told me to come to room quickly. He died within minutes of me walking in. Now I am consumed with guilt for not comforting him while in ICU and not staying by him in those last hours. I was so tired and now feel I was just cold and heartless. It kills me, He was an excellent husband and dad and grandpa. To my knowledge he had never cheated on me before and honestly I can’t blame him as we got older as I had pushed him away. I beg forgiveness all the time but don’t feel forgiven or worthy of being forgiven. I am a very giving person so I don’t even understand what was wrong with me during those last days to have just been right there yet not comfort him. I am at a loss and just hate myself. I would give anything to go back and do it over. I miss him terribly and beg him too to forgive me. So sad how life goes sometimes. so angry with myself for not doing things the way I should have. I didn’t handle it right at all.
2 things: good -on your decision timing. You better think again- with guilt over not comforting patient to your satisfaction.
we have had similar experiences.
I feel guilty that I didn't’ act fast enough to move Mom from nursing home hospice program- to home hospice -so Mom could die at home.
But you were good & fast with this decision making.
I’m a smart person- I have a good brain. But I realize now, after my mom has passed away, that one can’t think straight during extreme stress - ICU, hospital,
hospice. My thinking was correct on many things-as yours was too- Example: instinctively knowing that it was time for patient to pass to a higher realm.
to share-what I feel guilty over - is with the “ slowness of my brain” to reach critical, immediate decisions.
human brain slows down in stress. In survival mode- our blood goes to our legs - so we can run - from danger. I suppose this is why we turn to attorneys, because their brains are in neutral position.
Looking back, if you/we can do it over again, of course, we would do everything right -to our satisfaction – so that no guilt or regret would consume us -after death of a loved one.
what are we - psychic?
human body is limited. We’re not psychic.
intellectually, we understand we aren’t psychic. But I, you, and every other survivor, FEELS regret & guilt - after it’s all over.
Mom told me -while living- that MOST / SOME decisions she made throughout her life were wrong. Everyone feels this way- don’t we?
REGRET- What a consuming, bad feeling. “I SHOULD HAVE BEEN NICER” - is
another universal regret. So is “ I SHOULD HAVE DONE BETTER”.
This is what you've been going through, too- right?
So do I. So do all humans alive- who buried their parents. we feel the same. Should’ve done better.
I have left 8 messages - on Mom’s cell- within 3 months of mom‘s passing -begging for forgiveness of the things I felt I wronged Mom. I see this as my free therapy act.
few hours of not being at bedside: We all want to be at patient’s bedside 24
hrs. Just not possible. Too tiring. I’m sure you’ve had to rest - for months -after his death. Same with all survivors.
I witnessed my mom death. I had my hand on her chest to feel her breath. I heard the gasping sounds. It usually happens twice.
this shocking memory will forever live inside my brain. Maybe It’s better for the survivor to not have this memory.
I also saw the mortuary person wrapping up my mom’s body. Her body was still warm. Would it be better if I don’t have these kinds of images stored in my brain?
I think so. Recovery would be faster during grieving period- I feel. It’s easier - To have “living” memories of deceased.
MEN: aren’t they pathetic- cheating in their hay days-
Then tucking in their tail - returning home to die - in their wives’ care.
Why don’t Men’s pretty mistresses care for them (change diapers, pay for a Hoyer lift) when it is time for men to die?
To the OP.....it staggers me that you should be feeling even a tiny bit of guilt over not being in the room the moment your husband died. You devoted your entire LIFE to this man and stayed by his side thru everything. You endured his relationship with another woman, even, and forgave that behavior. You went on to care for him in a truly heroic fashion for ages, yet choose to hate yourself for the few moments you weren't there?
Your husband probably did not WANT you to witness him taking his last breath, so chose to depart purposely while you weren't in the room. Many loved ones do that, my dad included, I'm sure of it.
Speaking of my dad, when I knew he'd be passing in the early morning hours, I chose to go home instead of hang around any longer at his room in Assisted Living and watch him take his last breaths. I laid in bed fully dressed and waited for the phone to ring which it did at 1am. I woke my husband up to get ready to leave and the nurse called to say he didn't think I'd make it in time....dads vitals were dropping fast. I knew I wouldn't make it because dad didn't WANT me to. I got there 5 minutes after he'd passed. I didn't and don't feel any guilt at all. I was there for my dad when it DID count and when he needed me most which was during his last couple of years of life. I did all I could for him, and it was more than enough. And now, the memories I have of him are lovely and not a horrible image forever etched in my mind of him gasping for breath, thank God. That's how I wanted it, too.
Take comfort and solace in all you DID do for your husband. Forgive those things you feel you did not do, and allow yourself to get past this unwarranted guilt you've created. Allow yourself to move past this, to grieve, and to then carve out a new life for yourself, which you fully deserve. If you feel that some counseing would help, then by all means get some! Life is short, my friend, so allow yourself some peace and relaxation.
You cared for him 99% of the time and the 1% when he was passing you weren't there---dwell on the 99% not the 1%!!
Perhaps he didn't WANT to die in front of you. I know a lot of people who seem to be waiting to be left alone to die. My grandma was dying and mother would not leave her side. The ONE night mom went home to sleep, grandma passed. Mother could not forgive herself--the thought her mom was alone.
well, I know that grandma was 'seeing' her sweetheart who had left her widowed at the age of 61. She was 94 at the time of her passing and she was waiting for mom to leave her alone so she could 'go' with grandpa.
Please don't dwell on this too much. You gave and gave---and nobody can fault you for not knowing he was on the brink of dying.
MY Dh has put me through the wringer with multiple MAJOR health issues. I was THERE for him throughout each and every one, except the motorcycle accident--b/c I was furious at age 60 he was going to get a Harley and travel the country--he didn't even last 30 minutes before he had to lay the bike down and should had been killed in the crash. I was furious. But he was really beat up and I eventually relented and did take care of him the 3 months he was recovering.
Had he died from that in the hospital, he would have been alone. I was so angry I couldn't even go see him for hours.
Truth is, most people do die 'alone'. It's OK and you are not to blame.
Married as long as you were---it's easy to get lazy about being affectionate, and when one person is chronically ill--it's REALLY hard to be loving and attentive 24/7 when the person is slowly, slowly dying.
Please don't blame yourself or be angry at the situation. Grieve, yes, but don't beat yourself up, OK?
You handled things beautifully. I'm sure your DH would say so. An entire life is not measured by one moment, but by the entirety of 'moments'.
Be gentle with yourself. He would want that for you.
Anonymous, I think what you're feeling is what many people feel, and I'm hopeful that someday either medical science or psychology will explore this issue and suggest feelings and methods that counter self created guilt, which seems to become overwhelming after caring for someone who has passed.
Please remember though that you did the best you could under very challenging circumstances, and helped your husband at a time when he needed it the most.
We are all human and can only do so much, handle a limited amount of grief and challenge, and yet many of us chide ourselves for not being able to become superpeople and extend beyond that.
From your description, you offered outstanding and consistent support. I see nothing over which you should feel guilty. In fact, I would be proud to have accomplished what you did!
So I ask you to sit down again and list all that you did for him, and only the positives, and also ask yourself how your husband would have fared had you not been strong enough to provide that support.
And, peace to you; spend today thinking of the good times.
I recently returned home from a weekend RV meetup, as I was heading back I realized that I had not eaten, so I pulled into a Cracker Barrel, it was packed and I was on the waiting list. Ten minutes later an elderly woman, also by herself, got on the list. I approached her and asked she wanted to join me. She immediately said yes.
As we were eating and chatting, she told me that her husband died of ALZ, he spent 7 years in MC, she went every day, all day, although the last 4 years he had no clue who she was. She stated that she would never do that again, she had lost her life, all her friends and most of her family, as she had no time for them. She was sitting day in and day out with a man who no longer knew her and had sacrificed her entire mental & physical well-being for him. Basically she said she had turned her back on everyone except him. She is now in therapy and trying to rebuild her life one day at a time. She said that she felt guilt too, not relating to him, but that she had shut everyone else out as she obsessed over him.
Guilt is interesting, it is a self imposed emotion, that can keep one stuck, it then interferes with daily living. You have done nothing wrong, you are operating under the completely false mindset that you did something wrong...you didn't.
I wish you the very best, perhaps therapy would be of some help to you.
It was his time. You could not have prevented his dying. I am quite sure he knows how much you loved him. Even if he was unresponsive I believe in my heart that he knew you were there. Hospice nurses will tell you that hearing is the last sense to go, so he heard every word you spoke to him.
He is at peace and no longer suffering. You will miss him. You are grieving. Can you find a grief support group or grief counseling?
I wish you well. This is a difficult time for you but it will get better in time. Allow yourself time to grieve for the man you loved so much.
Sending you a million hugs! 💗
Many like my Granny, wait until the family has gone before they die. I have taken 3 phones calls in the middle of the night from hospitals telling us a family member has passed. The family had been at the bedside for many hours, but exhaustion took over and we had to get some rest. We have no guilt that we were not there at the moment of death.
Please look into grief counseling, if you belong to a Faith community ask there, or ask your local Hospice organization.
Please don't be angry with yourself, or beat yourself up over anything. You loved him and he loved you All of the years you were together, the good and the bad. He's been sick for a long time, and it took so much out of both of you ~ physically and mentally.
Please take care of you, and know you did all you could for him. Prayers sent your way.