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So this past week a man died in his apartment. I was asked by one of his friends to go by and deliver him some dinner and I said yes of course. By the time the shift ended late in the night, I hadn't. I was chasing my dementia patient around trying to calm her down and my other client was sick.
The next morning I found out he had had a heart attack that night.
It's eating at me that I forgot his dinner. By the time I remembered, I thought he'd be asleep already in bed and I didn't want to bother him.
What should I do? I feel awful.

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You must feel awful, and I couldn't sympathise more. I'm still new to the job, as in job rather than family-and-friends, and what's just happened to you is exactly the kind of horror that wakes me up through the night.

I think you have to focus on cause and effect, and accept that you were no part of the cause, here. This man died of a heart attack. Your taking him dinner or not could not possibly have had any effect on that either way. Even say you had called in, even say you'd noticed that he didn't "look right," the reality is that people don't survive these events unless they have the great good fortune to be in hospital when it happens, and often not even then. In short, bluntly, he was going to die anyway; and you did NOT do it.

If it's the sort of thing you do, light a candle for him.

And if it's the sort of thing you do too often, which is often the case with caring people, don't say yes of course so readily! Hugs to you.
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Just to put this in perspective, what is your professional role, and to whom?  I'm assuming you're employed, but that the man who died isn't in the same facility as you?  Or do you work in a place in which people live in apartments, within a larger facility, such as an IL or AL? 

Was their some reason why (a) his friend who asked you couldn't himself deliver food to the man?   (b)   Is it part of your work responsibilities to deliver meals to the man who died?

If he lives in an apartment in a facility, what are the protocols for meal delivery?  Did you breach a responsibility?   Is there someone else who could have/should have been responsible for meal delivery?    Or was this a situation in which the man couldn't get to a common area kitchen for meals?

Did the man have a history of cardiac issues?   If so, what did the facility, or the apartment complex in which he lived, create as emergency measures?

Do you know when the arrest occurred - before or after you might normally have delivered a meal?  

There are lot of factors to consider, but I think the critical one is whether or not you breached a responsibility of your position.  

I'm assuming you're a woman.  Men tend to see things somewhat differently.   They learn from events and mistakes, and factor them in future behavior.   Women (including me) tend to stress about it, wondering what I could have/should have done, and creating blame when it doesn't exist.   I'm still trying daily to think like a man.
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Rennrenegade Dec 20, 2019
This man had fallen the previous week. I knew nothing of his medical past besides the fall. He was not able to get to the common dining area. It was not part.of my regular job responsibilities. The arrest occurred after I would have delivered the meal, later in the night. He lived in a retirement community that has apartments. I treat two other ladies here and both of them had me running back and forth to their rooms, helping them with various things. I dont know why the friend or anyone else could deliver his food. I work with a company that comes in the care for people, but the facility is a different business.
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You did not intentionally harm him. Please know that.
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Many years ago when I got back into the workforce after a divorce and being a stay at home mom for 22 years, I took a job as a care giver with an Agency. One of my earlier jobs was at an ALF caring for an old gentleman with severe respiratory issues. During my shift, Apria arrived to deliver oxygen and set up the apparatus in his room. They left all the plastic material on the floor and took off. So I cleaned it all up, placing the plastic in the trash can in his apartment. That night, I received a phone call from the Agency about my job being canceled for the next day. The gentleman removed the plastic from the trash can and suffocated himself with it. He died shortly thereafter.

This happened in 2005. I still think about it and feel awful that I hadn't had the foresight to put that plastic wrap in a DIFFERENT trash can outside of his room.

Then I realize it wasn't my 'fault', per se, I just enabled the man to end his pain and suffering once and for all and pass over to the next phase of his eternal life.

I just wanted to share my story of 'guilt' with you. I seriously doubt you caused the man's heart attack by not delivering his dinner. I understand how you feel, however, and offer you my empathy and compassion. Sending you a big hug, too, and my best wishes.
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NeedHelpWithMom Dec 20, 2019
How awful of an experience, lealonnie.

I have a friend that her nanny placed a dry cleaning bag by her daughter’s crib when the baby was napping. The phone rang.

The nanny left the room to answer the phone. When she later returned to the baby’s room the baby had suffocated. The bag had fallen on top of the baby. It was so sad. The sitter had to call my friend at work to tell her that her baby was dead.

The death was ruled as an accident because my friend knew she did not intentionally kill her baby and did not want to press charges against her. It was so heartbreaking, a tragic accident.
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I doubt if you caused his death. I would feel bad too but things happen.
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