I have written several times before about the regret/guilt with which I am paralyzed due to the last weeks of my Mom's life. She had multiple chronic health conditions and was fragile/frail. I extended her rehab due to her needing 2 people to assist 24/7 per her therapists, etc. I had planned on bringing her home, but only had 1 caregiver lined up and the 2 person bombshell changed the plans at the last minute. Though not thrilled, she agreed to 30 days restorative care/pt/ot to see if she could build strength and get to a 1 person assist. She was not thrilled the first few days, but then when the 30 days were up and I was ready for her to come home, she decided to stay another month to continue the progress she was making in therapy. COVID hit - I could not see her...she still wanted to stay unless they had cases there - they never did. During that time she started having stomach/bowel symptoms (increased from prior levels). Her PCP saw her, did blood work, bedside x-ray, etc. - adjusted meds, etc. Misdiagnosed her with an ileus and constipation. Things declined quickly the end of April/beginning of May. After refusing additional diagnostics and refusing the hospital, she eventually agreed to go when the pain became unbearable. At the hospital she was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis and acute decompensated cirrhosis. With her prognosis, pain and other health issues, she ultimately decided on hospice. I was with her at the hospital and during the week in hospice - until she passed away in my arms.

Despite feeling blessed for being with her at the end, my rumination torments me 24/ 7- now affecting all my relationships and my career. I have no peace. Grief counseling, spiritual help, psychiatrist, and medication have still only provided minimal relief form the agony. I constantly ask:

1. Why would I put my sick/fragile mom in rehab rather than just bringing her home as she originally wanted? I could have taken FMLA or a leave of absence and been the "2nd" caregiver...why?why?why did I not. I had taken care of her for 5 years through multiple hospitalizations and rehabs - stroke/heart attack/broken hip/neck.etc. Why would I drop the ball on her care the last 8 weeks of her life????

2. How could I allow her to stay during COVID isolation? Despite the fact that she told me and my family she wanted to stay until she was done her therapy, I should have known she would not do well under those circumstances mentally and physically and MADE her come home. Multiple people talked to her about coming home to me, but she kept saying -not now, maybe in May...I pleaded, begged, explained multiple times why I wanted her home, that I would care for her myself ( with one other set of hands), etc. that we needed to be together, etc, PT was not that important, being home was, etc...but in the end, I still listened to her and did not go get her and MAKE her come home. Why would I do that when I "knew" that was not the right thing...???

3. Before the hospital and hospice, she told me she needed a lot of care - more than I could do at home myself - and that she did not want to argue with me about eating, etc. ( things we fought about when she lived with me) and that if I kept nagging her she would not answer the phone or talk to me...finally, she promised to discuss with me on a "home" date before the end of May ( after more than 20 discussions regarding same).
We never got there - she died 5/26.
The woulda/coulda/shoulda of grief/guilt/regret is more than I can bear -more than I can carry for the rest of my life. I am searching for a way to forgive myself and apologize to my Mom for my bad decisions and lack of appropriate action. If anyone has any ideas on helping me find just a little mental peace, a little self-forgiveness, I would be grateful. I am scared for myself, my mental and physical health ( both are greatly suffering), and the effects on my family. I am a lost soul at this point stuck in negative rumination

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Have you looked into EMDR?

It’s a process being used to treat PTSD and similar traumas. It’s been around many years. Some people find it very helpful. I have a good friend who used it. She gives it a lot of credit in enabling her to move on with her life.
Here is a website where you can find an EMDR therapist in your area.

Here is a good article on what the process involves.

Note: no doubt the brain scans mentioned in the article are helpful in validating the success of the therapy. However, I know my friend just had the therapy alone and it worked for her. She didn’t require a scan to know she was much better. But this is a good article to explain the therapeutic process. There are some good comments posted as well.
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Reply to 97yroldmom

First of all I’m so sorry for your loss. We always feel guilty and second-guess our decisions. But we also listen to our mothers and usually do what they ask of us! The only advice I have is to get out of your head try to help somebody that usually helps me to stop thinking about my stuff if only for a while. I am fairly new to this care giving, mother bed ridden from a stroke just before her birthday in July of this year, step dad‘s being put into assisted living because of dementia is so bad and he thinks my mom wants to commit suicide so he’s helping her by handing her pills and knives so for her safety He’s gotta go. Also a therapist would be a great idea there’s nothing wrong with therapy, we all need it! Take care Luv.🙏🏼
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Reply to Carla22

Please forgive yourself. There is no right way to do any of this. My mother is living with me and it is so challenging. I have to help her do everything and then she wakes me up in the middle of the night to smoke cigarettes outside. I haven’t slept A full night in over a month. Last night I lost my patience and yelled and slammed the door. I felt terrible the rest of the night. I kept thinking “she is dying, let her do what she wants”. However, my exhaustion has gotten the best of me. I guess I tell you this because it seems to me that no matter what, we are making the best decisions we can in these situations. There is no right way and it is hard to meet everyone’s needs all the time. We can always go back and wonder how we could do it differently. I recommend finding a therapist you really connect with and meet once a week for as long as you need (years) and ask your most trusted friends and family members to listen to you. Let them know you are having a hard time sorting things out. And you need to talk about it a lot. I am not sure under what condition your mother had cirrhosis but my mother has it from alcoholism. I have recently reached out to the local al-anon group because many of them have dealt with family members in these situations as well. I’m sorry you feel the way you do. I feel guilty too. Those are the ways I’m dealing with it.
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Reply to Homecare123

Laurabelle, everything I read in your post actually shows how much you loved your mother and personally gave her as much care as was possible for you, given her multiple medical issues. There often comes a point when we have to involve health professionals in caring for our loved ones, and that is a normal, caring thing to do. It is not in any way an indication that you don't care or didn't do enough - in fact it's the opposite. It's normal to go over and over the final few weeks of someone's life. I too did this when my father died. Is it possible for you to speak with someone who cares for your mum, and who can help you understand and put into context what you have experienced with your mum? I found talking to one of dad's nurses really helped me as I too was utterly tormented by dad's suffering. Please do not take on the burden of blaming yourself. You have nothing to blame yourself for. You are grieving and need to give yourself time, and also a little self- kindness. You mentioned the various forms of help you have tried. Have you tried writing down how you feel, in a journal? I found this helped to unburden my head of all the strong emotions that were swirling around constantly. I believe I started to feel a little better maybe 8-9 months after my father died, although the grief came back in huge waves as we approached the first anniversary of his death. That too has subsided and whilst life will never be the same without him, I have found a way to be happy again and to be thankful for all of the good memories I have of my dad's long and full life before he was ill.
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Reply to Chriscat83

I am so very sorry. You weren’t a mind reader. You didn’t cause any of this.

We all have regrets in life. Somehow we propel ourselves forward.

Your mom is at peace. I know that she would love for you to be at peace as well.

Take care, dear lady. Honor your feelings. You can’t help what you feel. You can’t pretend that you don’t feel this way.

One day your grief will ease up. You will always remember what happened but I hope that you will no longer blame yourself.

Your mother knows that you loved her and still do. She will live in your heart forever.

Sending a bazillion hugs your way. I will say a special prayer for you.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

Dear Laura, I am sorry that you are so overwhelmed with all the things that you think went wrong for you and your mother. Perhaps different ways to think about it might help you.

Your mother was very very ill. She had autoimmune hepatitis, acute cirrhosis, stomach and bowel issues, stroke, heart attack, multiple other chronic health problems, and she was frail and fragile. Her body was packing up, and she was in the process of dying. The other things that went wrong medically didn’t change the basic facts – she had very little time left, and even less good time left.

You wish that both she and you had made other choices about where she was, and what treatment she should have. You regret that you didn’t force other choices on her. You tried to, and she was very resistant. However doing things differently would not have changed the fact that she was dying, and almost certainly any different course would have had its own regrets. Unless someone drops dead without warning, death only goes smoothly in the movies. No-one has a happy and comfortable death from a painful illness.

You are overwhelmed with grief, and can’t move past it. This is the ONLY thing that you can now change. You need to work on that, both for your sake and hers – you want to keep good memories of her long term, not the awful problems of the end.

To do it, first acknowledge the truth of what really happened – you did what seemed best at the time, but now you wish it had been different. Next make a clear decision that you want to feel better. Then find other things to think about, and force yourself to move to them when you start reliving the bad times.

It takes a lot of self control to stop yourself from dwelling on something so overwhelming, and you need to try. Nothing is being achieved by you feeling so bad. When my own mother died (at home with me, still many difficult memories), I found that the best way to change the furniture in my head was when I went on a trip, with other things to look at every day and other people to talk with. You need to work out what is possible for you. Best wishes, and help yourself to feel better. Love, Margaret
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Reply to MargaretMcKen

Hindsight is 20/20 and a b*tch. You know what you know now, but you didn't then. You did what you thought was best with what you knew at the time.

Don't revise the history, and give yourself a break.
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Reply to MJ1929

OMG your post is hard for me to read. We can all go back and find reasons to feel guilty about some aspect of our LO's care. But how does that help? Guilt is about regret for something we did or something we didn't do. But how, in the heat of the moment, do we know what to do? We make our best guess and don't look back. In your items above your decision was to do the right thing at that time and to not create friction between the two of you. So what you did was right!

Now you're stuck in a world of what could be everlasting grief. It needn't be that way. It's not unusual to grieve for 5 months. It's not unusual to grieve for a year or two. We all grieve differently. But at sometime you have to realize that your mom died, you didn't. You can get thru this but you have to CHOOSE to do it. Focus on your family not your mom. It's not the passing of time that will heal you, it's what you do with that time. Therapy is a step that you've already taken, kudos. Do you attend a grief support group? Do you maintain your relationships with your griends? Are you reading any books on grief recovery, there are many? "The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving" by Debra Holland and "How to go on Living When Someone You Love Dies" by Therese Rando are two. My wife died 2 1/2 yrs ago. My grief is gone but I still have sad moments. I hope that at this time next year you too have only sad moments and happy memories. You can do this>
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Reply to sjplegacy
AlvaDeer Sep 30, 2020
Beautiful advice and post, as usual for you!
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Dear "Laurabelle01,"

My heart truly goes out to you. I understand why you feel such anguish. The irony is that it was your "mom's choice" to stay put. You can't MAKE anyone do anything they don't want to do no matter how good your intentions are and whether or not you think it's "right." I think I've seen people on this forum whose parent/LO begged to come home and the family member didn't bring them home - it was the same outcome for them. They passed away and the person felt the guilt just like you do.

I began to feel bad when my 95 year old mother with Alzheimer's nearly died at her ALF in April. She had severe dehydration, COVID and a couple other things. The facility wasn't taking proper care of her or notifying me that she was in such bad shape. She survived but, can no longer walk or dress herself. She is at a different facility in the MC unit with hospice. I blamed myself that she is no longer able to do those things and is bedridden. But after mulling it over, I had to come to the realization there wasn't a person on this earth that could have ever predicted we would be hit with the Coronavirus - had I known we'd have this pandemic, I would have moved her a year ago into a facility that would have provided better care but, I always heard you shouldn't move someone with cognitive issues and disrupt their routine. I felt like the16 years I'd been watching over her after my dad died just went out the window in a "poof" and was all in vain.

Each of the other ladies who posted their comments have made very good points and as "lealonnie1" said we've been given a certain allotment of time on this earth - "A person's days are determined; You have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed." Job 14:5. Your mom made the decision and you feel like your suffering from the consequence of "her" decision as if it had been "yours."

My suggestion would be to find a book where someone has actually gone through an incident like Steven Curtis Chapman, a Christian Singer, whose son accidentally ran over their 5-year old daughter when she ran in the path of his SUV while backing out of the driveway. I know they have experienced the pain, grief and guilt. You may find it helpful to see their perspective.

I sure hope you will somehow, someway find the strength to push forward for you and your family's sake-
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Reply to NobodyGetsIt
Laurabelle01 Sep 30, 2020
Thank you - the main problem is that I know she did not want to go there originally; and the first few days she wanted to come home... I did not bring her home -told her to let me get the caregiving help in place - then when I had them, she decided to stay another month because she was making progress in PT/OT. She cried the first 2/3days and I did not just bring her home...originally, after the first rehab, she wanted to come home - but we did the restorative care because I did not have the caregivers in place - but I almost did and I could have taken FMLA to be the 2nd caregiver - and did eternal remorse.

I made so many mistakes - so many - I feel like I could have gotten her to the hospital faster, made her eat better, etc. if she had been with me .
I blame myself for her decline a lot - knowing that originally she wanted to come home - even though she changed her mind later.
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I am so sorry for what you are going through. Please do not feel guiltily. Your mother made her decision and it was out of your hands. You were doing what you thought was in the best interest of your mother. I need 2 people assist with my 98 year old mother and if I did not have a second caregiver it would be most difficult doing it alone. No need for forgiveness, you were there for your mother when she needed you most. I am so glad you were with her when she passed. It was her time to go, nothing you could have done would delay it, she was in Gods hands and now at peace. Please seek grief counciling asap. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time in your life. Keep your moms memory close to your heart. Hugs to you.
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Reply to earlybird

laurabelle, I am so sorry you are going there this. Ruminating thoughts are so hard!! I go through it myself with my mother.

I know how hard it is when you try to sleep and your brain won’t shut down because of the ruminating thoughts.

Please talk to a therapist. I talked to many over the years. They all helped me in one way or another.

please don’t suffer in silence and feel like you are all alone. Please reach out to a therapist and keep reaching out on this site. I am so very sorry.
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Reply to elaine1962

Laurabelle, ((((hugs))))))).

Sometimes we need to make the least bad of a bunch of bad choices. I know that with my mom, once dementia, a broken hip and recurring CHF issues entered the room, there were no "good" choices to be made.

COVID sent us ALL into a tail spin and made what might have been fairly straight forward choices more fraught and less predictable. It seems like you think that you feel like you should have been a mind reader to the universe to see what was going to happen.

I have no good answers for you. Just empathy and love. Please forgive yourself for your unintended trespasses.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

When I was at the lowest point in my life, I wound up going into a nearby church. I hadn't been to church for probably 25 years prior, but had grown up with the church being part of my life and education. It felt like a last resort, quite honestly. When I was at rock bottom, I was willing to try anything.

It was the kind of church that was dark and moody. Dark wood pews, stained glass windows, a musty odor of incense in the air. I went into a pew and put down a kneeler. I got on my knees then & prayed to God to help me, because I didn't know what else to do. I asked Him to guide me. To help me figure my life out; to clear my head; to get me to a better place inside of my soul. Because I was lost and at the end of my rope.

The next course of action suddenly became clear to me and I was able to turn my life around, thanks to taking that first step and asking God for help. That was 1991 I believe, and I've been sober ever since.

If you have faith in God, do what I did. Ask God to help you forgive yourself because He has already forgiven you, as has your beloved mother, who is at eternal peace now.

You can't play God; you can't save a person you love from dying, in spite of wanting to very badly. We all have a certain allotment of time on earth. Your mom's was up when she left for her next life with God.

I wish you all the peace and self-love that you deserve now, and that you stop torturing yourself over something you had no control over.
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Reply to lealonnie1
earlybird Sep 30, 2020
Oh lealonnie, I am tearing up with your heart felt post . I am so glad you were able to seek Gods help in a very difficult time in your life and your life turned around for the better. I appreciate your honest and personal read, I could give you a hug right now. This post should help many people. God bless you.
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I recall all of your other postsand am so sorry therere has been for you no movement forward for you.
I recommend you continue with the therapy you told us you were and are still doing. Not all drugs are right for all people; it's anything but an exact science, so you may need to utilize your doctor in trying different formulas of medication for what may now have moved from grieving to clinical depression. Our brains tend to form habitual paths of thinking.
You have explored most options for help in the grieving process and it is entirely possible that only time will heal you.
If you recall we wrote a few times in private messaging. I lost my brother the same month you lost your Mom. When I hear you I can only think of him and how sad it would have made him if I felt as you do. I try to honor him by living the best and happiest life I can; honestly, that is for me a choice. I won't have the like of him in my life ever again while I live. But to spend my remaining years in mourning him rather than celebrating him, to me, does him no honor.
I am curious L., if prior to your Mother's illness and death you had any prior mental health history of clinical depression?
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Reply to AlvaDeer

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