Follow
Share

My mother, who had ovarian cancer, a broken sacrum, and mild dementia lived with my husband and me for 18 months. I was her primary caregiver during this time, even when she went into hospice care. She passed away on February 9, 2019, and every day since then, I have been racked with guilt over certain feelings I had while she was living with us. I must preface this with the fact that while my siblings and I were growing up and even after we married and had children of our own, Mom was the most wonderful, caring mother. She gave of herself selflessly and did everything she could for all of us. While she was living in our home, I was with her just about 24 hours a day. I did get breaks here and there to go to the store, etc. There were many times, though, that I just couldn't stand to hear her walker rolling across the floor, her little sayings like "jiminy Moses," and her just standing there watching what we were doing. She would want to leave on the porch lights during the day and I would turn them off and tell her we didn't need them on during the day. I resented her coming out when my friends came to visit me and joining in our conversation. I could give many other examples, but the bottom line is how could I have had these thoughts about my wonderful mother? Why didn't I just let her have the porch light on since it really was no big deal? Why did I have to correct her on many so trivial matters? I have not had a moments peace since her death. I miss her terribly, and I am so sorry for my thoughts about her and corrections I would voice to her. Have any other caregivers felt this way toward the parent they are caring for? Are these thoughts normal? I have cried every day over this and just can't seem to get past it.

Find Care & Housing
Dear LoneStarTeacher,

I think what you are going through and feeling is absolutely normal as others have said, remember it has been only days since your mom’s passing.
The advantage and disadvantage of being a loved one’s caregiver 24/7 is that the daily contact will always generate some reasons to be resentful or upset about (living with anyone is not exactly easy) but also will create many reasons for you to be thankful about and at peace with yourself.

This may sound weird and even ill to some, but sometimes when I imagine what I will go through when I don’t have my mom physically anymore, I kNOW that I will feel a great deal of guilt (I feel it now!), but then I realize that I am very thankful for having the opportunity to be her caregiver because this journey has allowed me to see (being very honest with myself) that I am doing a lot for my mom, sacrificing so much, and I don’t mean missing out on my life because I’m not counting that, I mean all the times I remain quiet when almost anyone else would have responded to her and not exactly lovingly; all the times I am physically or emotionally absolutely tired, yet if she wants me to do something for her I do it and smiling...even if inside I am mad, but hey, I am human too; all the times I listen to her, I protect her -even from herself-. All the times I really put into words my love for her! All those times, all of me that has been given to her...
So guilt? Yes, I will have guilt, for all the thoughts that went on while I was doing all these things, for not being a better daughter or simply a better human being. But, my guilt will quiet down because of all I know I did for her and because of my love for her.

And I think God is allowing me to go through this so I can recognize that my love for her is and will always be greater than my shortcomings.
That is the recap I hope to have when the time comes.

How about you?

I think you did a lot too, you gave a lot too, you LOVED -you love- her a lot too. Don’t you think?

Give yourself the opportunity to heal by acknowledging what you did well. What you still now do well.

Lastly, being such a good mom as you shared with us that she is (is because a mom is always a mom!), what do you think she would tell you or she would want you to do and feel? I am sure she would want you to be at peace, because very likely she was not hurt because of all those things you are saying you did, what she likely would keep in her heart is all you meant for her, knowing she had you by her side is probably priceless and what she would recognize and be thankful about the most. And she would probably say to you, wow! I must have been crazy wanting to leave the porch lights on during the day! Please don’t blame yourself for that! And she would smile at you.

Listen to what your mom would tell you. She is right and she knows the daughter she has, and all the love you had for her...greater than any of the things you’re sorry about. And when alone, in silence, tell your mom you’re sorry, pour your heart, say all that wasn’t said, and let it all go. I’ve the feeling that little by little you’ll experience peace after that.

Give yourself a break, we are all humans, Your mom was too.

A comforting hug sent your way and I hope healing starts coming to your heart and mind a little more every day that passes.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Rosses003
Report

Hey, LoneStar Teacher. I recently buried my MIL of 8 years, who had been showing some minor signs of cognitive decline. Basically she was a pretty good companion but she had her own friends and activities, which she never bothered or thought to include me in (I'm new to this tight-knit community and still an outsider). I enjoyed her company when we sat and watched tv together... but, like you, there were some minor resentments. How can there not be when two women share a home and a kitchen? Utensils never get put away in the same drawer twice .... dishes, bowls, pans are never quite clean, but she insisted on washing them though I tried to retire her from kitchen duty because she couldn't see well ... dirty coffee spoons are left on the counter .... and there was constant interference with how I am raising my children, sigh ....

I believe when a LO dies we all go through a Valley of Of Onlys and What Ifs. But it's too late. So we beat ourselves up. I think it's natural and normal. Recognizing it for what it is helps us get through it. At least it is for me.

It also helps for me to realize my LO is not floating off in some ethereal existence looking down disapprovingly at me, counting up my sins. She's sleeping. At least the Bible calls death a sleep (John 1111-13) and says we all sleep until the resurrection (1 Thess. 4:13-18). So realize that what you're feeling is pretty much universal, give yourself permission to feel it and also to let go of it. It just means you're human. Yoi,'re perfectly fine. 😊💖
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to DesertGrl53
Report
DesertGrl53 Feb 17, 2019
Pardon typos. Past my bedtime. John 11:11-13. YOU're perfectly fine. Be at peace, don't beat yourself up. It will get better!
(1)
Report
All I can say, is I know where you are coming from. I didn't like being Moms caregiver. I didn't deal well with her Dementia. As u, I was with her 24/7 till Daycare 3x a week but that was a year later. Just before that, I watched my grandson from 2 months to 20. So 5 days a week I had him. I was looking forward to him going to daycare and then Mom.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report

Ah, LoneStar. I too am one of the lucky ones-to have a wonderful and supportive mother my whole life. Doesn't mean you don't want to take a swing at her here and there-as I'm sure she did me when I was a kid!!! (of course, I don't mean that literally)  LOL. It's ok. It's probably not about the porch light anyway. It's about frustration over lack of control of what's happening around you. And to watch the decline of the person you've always known and are helpless to do anything about it. Please, find a way to let it go. It's really ok.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to lynnm12
Report

What if your mom was not sick, what if your mom had not died recently? Would still feel the same way? I am sure the answer is no.
You treated your mom as if she were "normal" as if nothing were wrong. And I am sure that is the way she would have wanted it.
No one would want to go through life with everyone treating them like ..today might be their last day..(when in reality we should always treat someone as kindly as we can, and we should live like every day is our last)
You treated your mom like any daughter would treat their mom, and she did the same to you. It was "normal" or as normal as could be.
You have great memories and you should treasure them and once in a while while you are getting things done in the house you will utter the words...."jiminy Moses" and all of a sudden you will realize that your mom is with you. (As a matter of fact when you say those words it might even sound a bit like your mom) Just smile and thank her for showing up.
And you will feel terrible for a long time it is called Grief. It is normal, it is painful and it will seem like it will never end. But it will change slowly it will hurt less, it will change from a sharp pain and it will become a dull ache.
I wrote these out in another post recently but they bear repeating
Grief
Grief never ends...
It's a passage, not a place to stay.
Grief is not a sign of weakness,
nor a lack of faith...
It is the price of love

and another
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
love leaves a memory no one can steal.

A few other thoughts for you.
If your mom was on Hospice contact them and ask about Bereavement Support Group
I am sure the Cancer Society also has grief support groups as well

And lastly find something that you love and get involved. A volunteer opportunity is wonderful. but as caregivers our world changes and becomes smaller and smaller. Our friends drop off as we can no longer go out whenever, we can't stay out real late when we can get away. So you need to find a new "normal" and get a new routine. Keeping busy will help you more than you realize.
And if you honestly did the best you could for your mom she knows that and you have nothing to feel guilty about, noting to feel bad about. Forgive yourself for whatever you think you did wrong.
(((hugs)))
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Grandma1954
Report

Why all these things? Because they're normal! Because you're human! Forgive yourself and move on! Trust me, your mom has!

Just prior to my dad passing, the man by whom I measured all others, I made an honest mistake in caring for him. We're not talking a little mistake. After I wept profusely and told him how sorry I was, he said, and I quote, "Now, you're not to beat yourself up over this."

Daddy forgave me on the spot! Now that's love.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to CantDance
Report

Like others have said you are grieving and racked with numerous feelings. Give yourself time. Grief has its own pace and dimensions.

Take care of yourself. She is no longer a prisoner of the degradations of age. Your watch has come to an end.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Segoline
Report

Normal, in fact its part of the healing process. Remember you were also under stress. Stress brings out the worst in all of us. Of course we all want to act in a good way all the time, but that is never possible, and we can't beat up on ourselves because we responded in less than admirable ways. Writing letters, lighting a candle in her memory, telling her outright that you are sorry and to forgive you is a good thing. Your mom really does not care about this stuff, she loves you and wants the best for you. They do hear you, and you can say this in your mind or out loud. But either way you should strive to let this all go when you are ready (take your time) know your mom loves you, you love your mom and the two of you experienced a hurdle together but you saw your mother to the end. It was difficult but both of you had your moments. You were your mother's light and anchor.

I think death and caring for other people helps you grow in leaps and bounds. You start to see life so differently... When our parents are on their last journey it becomes very profound. Parental death is extremely hard, but billions of people have gone through it and made it through. Take small baby steps. Everyone who has parents will have to face this head-on its part of life unfortunately. But we all can get through it by talking to each other and helping each other out. It does get better, I promise you. That quote time heals all wounds. Is very true for me anyways...

You are a good daughter, don't let those minor things disturb your grief, think of all the good things. I wish you healing and comfort in your time of grief. Take care.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Nicene
Report

I’m so sorry for the loss of your much loved mother. And I think what you’re feeling is normal. You’re in no way a bad person, you stepped up and cared for your mom in her final days here and I’m sure she felt loved. Caregiving comes with stress, it’s normal that you’d react to some of that stress by bristling at some minor things with mom. I hope you, with time, can shift focus onto the bigger picture and remember more the happy memories, the good things your mom taught you. There’s a unique pain to losing a beloved mother, I know it personally, it takes a while for the harsh grief to change to positive memories, and there to be more smiles than tears
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Daughterof1930
Report

(((((((Hugs)))))))). Be kind to yourself; these are early days in your grief journey.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn
Report

The guilt feelings are normal, they are just hitting you harder because now Mom is gone and your grief is merging with those guilt feelings. Unfortunately guilt is a major part of care giving. No matter how well or what we do, we all feel guilty. No one keeps it together all the time, there's just too much stress and pain in being the caregiver. Sometimes we vent that stress toward our loved one, if only in our minds. I'm guessing your mother didn't need a walker until her illness. Your "anger" at hearing that walker wasn't really at your mother; it was really at the disease that had weaken your mother to the point she needed a walker. It was your grief for your mother's illness and pain coming out. Anger is a normal stage of grief. You felt grief (and the accompanying anger) then during her illness and you feel more now that she's finally gone and beyond the pain. Your mother is safe and in the arms of a loving God. Your care of her was a a great gift to your loving mother. Now forgive Mom for getting sick and forgive yourself for grieving her losses with anger. Your mom would never want your care of her to cause you more pain, She has already forgiven you.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to TNtechie
Report

Don’t worry. Time heals and anyway, I am sure your mother loves you still and it doesn’t mean anything anymore
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Pandabear
Report

LoneStarTeacher
I am sorry for the loss of your mom. It will take much more than a week for you to recover. Be gentle with yourself and your memories. Right now with the loss so fresh, you naturally reflect on all the negatives, the regrets and the realization of lost opportunities. It will balance out and you will remember happier days. We all do the best we can and it sounds like you did quiet a lot for your mom.
Yes we all feel bad for the times we could have done better. That’s true in all areas of our lives. It’s such a deep personal loss to lose our mom. It’s a sad ache in our heart that doesn’t go away but does become more bearable as time goes by.
It is appropriate that you grieve now. I’m sorry it’s so painful.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to 97yroldmom
Report

Ask a Question

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter