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For me it's a few. One in particular. My brother and I had attended a care meeting at the facility my mom was in. Afterwards we went up to visit with her. She had rollers in her hair and was dressed which was unusual in itself. But she also was bright and more talkative than usual.


I could tell she had been expecting our visit and had been looking forward to it. But I was weary that day and my brother offered to drive me home so I left early. I could see in my mom's eyes she was disappointed.


Turns out that was the last time I would ever see her conscious. I can't tell you how many times I've relived that day in my mind and the regret I feel that I didn't stay longer with her like I normally did.


Not to open up old wounds for anyone but any tips on how to get over these nagging images that keep you awake at night?

God knows I made enough mistakes in the time I cared for my mom and I was short tempered or less than loving and gentle too often, intellectually I've forgiven myself because hindsight is always 20/20, right? But I still grieve those mistakes, usually when my head hits the pillow at night. I don't think you can do anything to erase those memories, you just have to shove them out of your mind and think of something else - I like Vicki's suggestion of wilfully finding a good memory to replace the bad one, I can see that as being a good strategy to retrain your brain.
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I have so many thoughts nagging me. I chose to care for my mom at home. I second guess myself all the time. Should I have done this or that? Should I have done that differently? Maybe I shouldn’t have done that at all. What if?
The fact is that it’s normal and not normal to feel these feelings. We can’t predict how things will turn out, what would have been better or worse. Did we love the person we cared for? We’re we there for them, even though we might have made some mistakes? Life is full of regrets in hindsight, but we might have not changed the outcome even if we changed the action. Where I’ve found comfort is in the scriptural promise of no more tears, sickness or death outlined in Revelation 21:4 and the hope of the resurrection found at Acts 24:14.
This hope of seeing my mom again keeps me anchored and I’ll be able then, to love her for eternity, never making a mistake again.
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NobodyGetsIt Jan 8, 2021
Dear "marianneh,"

Very well said - I have Rev. 21:4 on my dad's grave marker (which will be my moms too when that time comes) that is surrounded by gold embossed delicate roses as a reminder that with the beauty of roses comes with it the thorns.
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Finding a better memory could be to focus on what is good about the memory you have that is keeping you awake nights. Changing the focus from regret to more of an understanding what was needed at that time.

As a nursing student, I was asked by my patient to help her with her hair, because her son was coming to visit. She was very ill, and tried her best to sit up, look better, and she did. The whole process was hard on her, even though it was to be only a quick visit because she was so weak.

She could not have visited long in her condition. Or even maintained her composure for long. So the shorter visit was just what she needed in that moment of time.
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Couldn’t we all write a chapter of the book “Things I Could have Done Better” I know without doubt that I could. I adored both my parents, but as their issues exponentially increased and became so difficult, I sometimes wanted to be anywhere else and know I dropped the ball on communicating with them as I should. My mother was particularly hard to carry on what had to be a one sided conversation with, and it bothers me now to know how often I avoided it. And I know she longed to be talked with. There’s no choice but to accept my faults, focus on doing better in the future, and enjoying the memories of happier times. I wish us all peace and comfort
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Sunnydayze Jan 8, 2021
Excellent response! Thank you!
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I try not to focus on negative memories. If they come up, I pull up a good memory and then get busy doing something so I don't brood. I have pictures around that remind me of good times. Right now I'm very busy settling my dad's estate. Lots of memories come back while going through his life. I always try to end the day thinking about happier times. Keep a photo handy that reminds you of a fun time you had together. Also, I remind myself that I did the best I could. I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. We all do. Our loved ones are gone now. They aren't able to think or feel anything. I find talking to a counselor is helpful. Writing in a journal about your feelings can help. Making art or music is very healing. Be kind to yourself. You made the best decisions you could at the time. Maybe we can use those moments of regret to learn from to do better in the future. I hope with time the painful memories fade and you can find comfort in the good ones.
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OkieGranny Jan 11, 2021
It seems all I can think of are bad memories. Why is that? If I start to think of something from the past, some regret or bad memory is the first thing that comes into my head. I cannot seem to forgive myself for anything, and I don't even want to. It's like letting myself off the hook. Crazy? Probably.
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I believe that all of us caregivers have moments we wish we could have done over, but really what good does that do us,(as we're all only human) and in what way does that honor the one(s) we loved and lost?

For me the moments that still haunt me are the pictures in my mind of my husband suffering so in his last weeks of life. He was in horrific pain,(despite being on the highest dose of fentanyl, along with haldol, and lorazepam) that hospice could not get under control, and because my husband wanted to die at home, and not at their facility, where they could have given him stronger medications to "knock him out", he really suffered. It was extremely hard for me as his wife to stand by and watch, and not be able to do anything to take his pain away. My husband was a good man, had been through so many trials and hardships (with his health) in his life, that I still have a hard time understanding why God let him suffer so in the end. Some things we just won't understand this side of heaven, so when those images pop up in my head, I instead try to remember my husbands sweet crooked(after his stroke) smile, which brings me great joy.
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I think we all have these moments. How I wish I could have been with my dad while he was hospitalized and in a hospice facility. I would have held his hand and comforted him. Due Covid to I could not. I think it is normal to second guess ourselves. I certainly have, my friends that have lost parents have commented about going through this. I think it's crucial to focus on what you did right. Being weary and tired might have been a blessing. You could have said something unintended to your mom out of exhaustion. You could have not had your brother to drive you home and experienced an accident. Your body prompted you to leave. Again, focus on the more positive experiences. Remember, she was safe, clean, well cared for and happy in her last conscious days.... I love having had the rollers in her hair! When these thoughts hit me...I focus on thanking the hospital and hospice staff for being a surrogate daughter for me. Your thoughts will ease. Also, in your mind, simply start thanking your mom for things...it doesn't matter what...teaching you to cook, garden, advocate for others...anything. This helped me a lot. You are not alone and you will get through this.
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NobodyGetsIt Jan 8, 2021
Dear "Sunnydayze,"

In your situation, it wasn't even something you did wrong. You wanted to hold your dad's hand and comfort him but it was the devastating pandemic, that kept you from doing what you longed to do. That is equally hard to cope with because the ability to do what you would have done in normal circumstances was "taken" from you.

God bless you!
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Fogiveness starts with yourself. Your mom would forgive you - you should too.
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I lost my mom 1 year, 3 months ago. Although she was 100% dependent on my care, including bowel schedule, diapering, and tube feedings, with the most severe of Alzheimer's disease (AD), it was not AD that killed her--also an insulin-dependent diabetic with chronic kidney disease and liver issues, those other health problems killed her. Still after 15 years of AD, she made it to 90. She died with perfect skin, and even to the end her sugars were extremely well managed. I never had a problem with the feeding tube either but it WAS a lot of work in itself. I would give my soul to the devil if I could have her back, but she has left this ORDEAL called life. Now nothing can ever harm her--not even disease and transcended death.

Mom is a much better place. But I still miss her terribly and I wear memorial jewelry with some of her ashes in it. I made pendants from her photo and I wear it. Mom will always be so close to me.

The price of love is grief, and you will never stop grieving because you can never stop loving them even in death. However, I also accept this is just a part of life and one day it will be my turn to die.

Part of grief is that your mind will work overdrive to make you feel guilty. None of us is perfect and you would have to be Jesus walking on water to be this pristine caregiver. You are human, and you did the best you could. I hear this a lot from caregivers on this forum--guilt--and all I can say is: (1) You have to learn to forgive yourself; (2) remember whatever you feel you did not do right, it is now in the PAST. It's over and done, and (3) your loved one is a much better place.

Remember PAIN is only reserved for the LIVING. Because you are still alive you will continue to suffer in grief. Since your loved one has died (I never use that word "passed"--they DIED), their ordeal of life is over so they are in a much better place. Grieve for yourself, but be comforted everyday we wake up we are one step closer to the grave. This is strangely comforting for me. And go on with your business of living....

After 15 years of caregiving with mom the center of my life, her suddenly not being with me traumatized me, but I am recovering from her death still, working a job and pursuing my Master's degree. I also no longer have to worry about her. I also know God killed my mom. I had nothing to do with her death because her other diseases killed her (insulin-dependent diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease). Mom's feeding tube kept her needs met and I spared her from dying of dehydration which can take weeks.

Mom was on hospice for 2 years but not once did she ever need narcotics or psychotropics. I used them like a home clinic and to give me supplies such as diapers, gloves and ointments, and renew her routine medications which was insulin and lopressor (that's all she took), and LACTULOSE for her bowels. Lactulose is kidney-disease friendly. Never give laxatives that have magnesium or phosphates with people with kidney disease because they cannot excrete them.

----I also gave mom routine oral care because clean mouth is essential to prevent pneumonia. Bacteria accumulates in the mouth even with tube feeding and if that is aspirated it can cause pneumonia. Clean teeth and mouth is ESSENTIAL for care for the elderly just to prevent aspiration pneumonia and helps control diabetes.
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My Mum was 93 very independent and insisted on living alone. My sister and I had a conversation about her time was coming and it would be a happy release for her. We were both exhausted trying to share her care day and night, After she passed away I could not believe that I actually said it would be the best for her,, really meaning us I think. I was so depressed after her death I did not want to even get out of bed and had to force myself to do it. I regret that I did not seek counselling because it was over 2 years before I began to feel anything like normal again. My poor, kind husband really had a rough time with me. I did not sleep and dreamed all the time about ''the old days''. I urge anyone who loses a dear one to get counselling as soon as they can.
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