I live every day with a terrible burden of guilt for the way my mom passed. What can I do? - AgingCare.com

I live every day with a terrible burden of guilt for the way my mom passed. What can I do?

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Hi everyone, I'm posting this from Sweden so please excuse my sometimes broken English.. Here's my story..in 2013 my beloved Mother passed away suffering from pneumonia. She lived in a nursing home since a second stroke paralized her in 1998. The last night I was sitting by her bedside for some hours watching her breathe very hard and fast, no pauses. She was totally awake and alerte and the breathing had been going on for about 5 hours. Finally I rang the nurse and she came and gave my Mom 7.5 mg of Morphine and 5 mg of Stesolide( I don't know the word for this relaxing meds in English). After about 30 minutes I rang again in some kind of panic because I didn't think it eased the breathing that much. I was a fool thinking the meds would change my Mom's breathing, but I did hope it would... The nurse came again and I asked if she could have some more.. How I hate myself for this!!! The nurse said yes and gave her another injection and despite of what I thought and hoped for this seem to make her breathing more labored. I was in such denial, my brother and I had spoken to the doctor and the chief nurse earlier that day and asked them to try and save her, and we got some hope up, maybe there was a little chance she might live through this! Having had a sick Mother for 25 years, it was almost impossible to understand that this was it-she was going to die. Anyway, being in such a state of denial I went to bed thinking tomorrow was another day and we would try and save her. She died an hour after I went to bed and left her with a girl who worked there.. I torture myself every day for asking the nurse for more and then going to bed. I would have done everything to make this undone:( I feel totally devastated.

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KarinBe, your mother died because she had lung disease and her body was not able to overcome this final disease episode. She did not die because you asked for something to try to help her. She did not die because you went to bed. She did not die because the nurse gave her standard treatments for her situation. She died because she had lung disease and it was her time to die.

I am so sorry.

You have been torturing yourself for more than three years with guilt over something you did not cause, and over which you had no control.

Of course you were/are very sad about your mother's death. I imagine you have some regrets -- we all do. But there really is no reason to feel guilty. How would your mother want you to handle these feelings? Would she encourage you to feel guilty, or would she want you to let the guilt go and move on?
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For four years you've been carrying this around?

The rapid breathing would have been oxygenating your mother's bloodstream poorly, because each breath would not have been very deep. The more "laboured" breathing, although it may have sounded as though it was a struggle, would have been deeper and more effective at getting oxygen into your mother. Meanwhile she would have been freed of any pain, and the sedative she was given will have eased any feelings of fear or panic. In short, her passing was very peaceful, and she wasn't alone. There is even a theory that some parents need to wait until their children aren't there to witness their death before they can "slip away."

Clearly, you and your family must have been very loving and dedicated to ensuring that your mother had a good quality of life even after her paralysis. But fifteen years confined to a nursing home? Do you not think that perhaps she was ready to leave?

I'm so sorry for the terrible guilt you are feeling, and nothing some stranger on a website says is going to change that. Have you tried talking to a counsellor, a pastor or a therapist? Whom can you confide in?
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KarinBe, the nurse would not have given the second dose unless the doctor's orders permitted it. She would not have given a lethal dose, no matter who asked her. You have no way of knowing that Mom would have lived 2 more days or 2 more minutes or no extra time at all without the second dose. That she would have lived longer is wishful thinking. But you probably wouldn't have wished her to live longer in pain and panic.

Again, your mother died of lung disease. You did not cause that and you could not prevent it.
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KarenBe.
You did not kill your mother. The nurse would never have given her a dose of morphine so large it would have ended her life. She died because it was her time to leave this earth. She did it cradled in the love of her family and will be forever grateful that you had the sense to ask for more relief for her.
Let the guilt go and simply finish your grieving with professional help if necessary. You have been an excellent and loving daughter.
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Karin, a professional nurse is not going to go against medical protocol just to please a patient's daughter. If she hadn't felt your request was clinically justified, she would have refused it and explained why. She must have agreed with you that it was necessary for your mother's comfort.
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You have to let this go. It was her time to go, she went peacefully and it's over. You can't say for certain that your mom was signaling not to get that last injection, don't torture yourself with what could have been. That heavy labored breathing usually occurs at the end of life, it's a physiologic response of the body to try to get oxygen. It wears the person out. The injection calmed her. You didn't want to see that continue, you used your good judgement, and asked the nurse because you cared about your mom and didn't want her to suffer anymore.
My mother passed away April 2013. The hospice nurse told me she was showing signs of impending death - mottling, shallow steady but not rapid breathing. She was in a nursing home- the bed next to her was empty. The nurses let me stay there and I fell asleep to the sound of my mother's rapid breathing.
The moment she died, I woke up. It's like everyone said above, I don't think my mom wanted me to see her go because she loved me too much.
But I awoke, went to her, and I could tell she just passed. It was my mother's way of protecting me-again-in my life so I wouldn't have the memory of seeing her draw her last breath.
It took me about 21/2-3 years for me to accept that while I was in the same room, I was asleep when my mom died. I had a lot of guilt, but then I had a light bulb moment and said to myself, that's it....she didn't want me to see.
You can't turn back time. You did the right thing at that moment. The nurse wouldn't have given the medication if it wasn't at the proper interval.
Please let it go. Your mother is happy now and she never really leaves, she's just gone somewhere else - with her mom (who she loved), her father, brothers and sisters,etc. Your mother is happy and she would really like you to be serene and comfortable with her passing. Let it go, dear. If you can't then go to a therapist but let your mother give you strength - she loves you and always will. Good luck to you.
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Karin... Add up!

7.5 + 7.5 = 15mg morphine.
Minimum lethal dose of morphine = 200+ mg.

Even giving the second injection early, you're 185mg short. Your mother was given less than one tenth of the lethal amount.

Do you need to be awake to keep breathing? Wouldn't that be a bit problematic for all of our bedtimes?

Darling girl, I suspect that what you might be going through is the wish, wish, wish that you could have saved your mother. So you're trying to find something you did wrong, something you could have done differently. Please talk to a counsellor or pastor, because no matter how much logic anyone offers about this it is not going to help you get past your fear.
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Karin, please note that a patient will pass on the same time table with or without the morphine. No one did anything wrong.

I noticed you are upset because you weren't there with your Mom when she died. Please note that many patients prefer to die when there are no relatives/friends in the room. This is common. My Dad waited until I left the room and I went home, apparently he didn't want me to see him pass. Dad and I were real close, and he did that to save me that emotion.
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I repeat. Please talk to a counsellor or pastor, because no matter how much logic anyone offers about this it is not going to help you get past your fear.
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Dear KarinBe,

I know its tough. You loved your mom so much. I know you only wanted to protect her and save her if at all possible. Like everyone said, you did nothing wrong. I know its hard to believe because I have the same thoughts about my dad. I do the same thing. Its all part of the grief journey. Maybe check out this website What's Your Grief. I think it might help. Countrymouse is 100% right, look for additional resources and consider talking to a grief counselor, therapist, family doctor or pastor for more support. I know everything is easier said than done, but don't torture yourself. Its hard enough to know that our parents are not with us anymore but this self blaming will only hurt us more. We have to stop. Do your best, I know its not easy. Sending you love and hugs.
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