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About two weeks ago my mom, who was 91 and was suffering from late stage dementia, started refusing food. She asked for things to drink (I mostly gave her water and Ensure), but she would not eat. A little after that she refused to drink. Then she stopped talking, closed her eyes and went into something like a deep sleep and became unresponsive. I knew her time was coming to an end. It was hard to deal with emotionally, of course, but part of me was actually glad it was happening. Her quality of life was poor, she mostly slept during the day, stopped reading (which she used to love to do), and was completely bed-ridden. Furthermore she often was unaware of where she was, who she was, and what was happening around her. This got gradually worse during 2015. Often I found myself asking God to just take her. I just wanted it to be over so I could go through the grieving process instead of grieving every day for the loss of someone who was still physically here. Also, she needed me by her constantly, would call my name every few minutes, asked the same questions over and over; There were lots of beautiful moments, too: she often told me how much she loved me, what a wonderful person she thought I was and how much she wanted me to have a happy life. So, when she actually started to go there were mixed feelings of fear, anguish, but much relief. I wanted to be with her during the dying process. I wanted to go through it with her. Even though she was non respondent, I talked to her constantly, telling her how much I loved her and what a wonderful mother I thought she was (all of which came from the heart). But I still prayed to God to take her quickly, for both our sake. However, when she passed last Friday it hit me like a ton of bricks. The world seems so surreal right now. But I was comforted and cheered by friends. Anyway, last night I started thinking about the mixed feelings I had when she started to go. This feeling that "at last it's going to be over. She'll be in a better place and I can have a little more freedom." I recoiled at these thoughts last night; did I really WANT my mother to die? What an awful person I am! And then I thought about all our friends who tried to cheer me by remembering what a good son I was, how much I loved her, and how much she loved me. But now I thought, "If they only knew...I feel like a fraud, I was relieved when my mother started to die! Did I actually will her death? Was there more I could have done that I didn't do, just because I wanted the dying process to continue? Should I have force fed her? Am I somehow responsible for her death?" I know a lot of caregivers feel like this.And the real paradox is that now that she's gone I'd give anything to have her back. Deep down, I know these doubts aren't true, but these thoughts started to hound me last night. Has anyone else here ever experienced these ambivalent thoughts about a parent's death, especially one who had needed intensive care during the last year of his or her life?

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charlie ,
its such a mortal struggle . you need to get your own life back . in order for that to happen , someone has to check out . its sad . id give both my nads to talk to my demented but brilliant mother to this day , but if she would have lived for a few more years , my life would have eluded me entirely .
theres just a time for everything . ( turn , turn , turn , )
my mother died at 81 yrs old . i was supportive and i was the only one there , dammit . i dont think she has any bad feelings about my sacrifice from wherever shes at . she loved me . my future was more of a concern to her than her present .
i love her ..
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You did nothing wrong. Nothing. My 92-year-old father in law passed away two months ago. I was relieved and continue to be relieved that his suffering is over and he had no pain at the end. Feeling guilty implies you did something wrong-which is not true. Your mother was 92, in poor health. There is absolutely nothing you could have done or should have done. The dying process is a natural one that happens to everyone who lives to be elderly. She was never going to live forever. Her time on earth came to a natural end. Getting your life back is a blessing! My father in law lived with us for a year before he went to the nursing home for four months. I know how very hard it is to have a life when you're caretaking. Take your time grieving but do NOT beat yourself up or question your love and loyalty to your mother. You obviously loved her very much and part of loving someone is letting them go when it's clearly their time.
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Lassie while I absolutely agree with you - 100% I was very surprised to find that I was not ready at all for Mum to die when we were called to the hospital with not much hope of her continuing life. She did live and continues to creak on but I was broken hearted at the thought of losing her. So whilst I whinge and bitch and moan I have this sneaky feeling that although there will be some sort of relief I think I may just grieve much more than I originally thought
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My Dad suffered for 9 years with a rare autoimmune neurological disease called PSP, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, simular to Parkinson's, though does not respond to Parkinson's drugs. The slow decline from becoming very unsteady on his feet, to losing his ability to inspirate/expirate, as well as swallowing difficulties, and a strange sort of paralysis of the muscles in his fase causing a wide eyed stare, just a really sad disorder, for which there is no treatment. I had the very best Dad in the world, and the thought of losing him at only 75, was devastating to me, my Mom, and my 5 siblings. When he became unable to swallow normal food, one of the true enjoyment of his life, it became even worse. Now we were happily pureeing his food, and thickening his fluids, which he of course hated but it had to be done. Twice, he overcame Aspiration Pneumonia, and then the disease began shutting down his GI tract, he hadn't had a real BM's in 2 weeks. The last time in hospital, once again with Pneumonia, his poor body shut down, rendering him unconscious for 2 days. A meeting with his Drs, asking us what did they expect them to do, heroic, life saving measures, a feeding tube, daily enemas to keep him "moving", antibiotics to quell the infection? The rest of the family was in agreeance, to let him go naturally, but me, the medical person in the family could not bare to let him go yet, I was a wreck! I wanted him treated at least, with antibiotics, but again, he was out cold! So, for me, and me only, they started him6on the Antibiotics, and then we had the Priest in, to give him The Last Rites. The very next morning, I walked into his hospital room, and he was awake, sitting up, and drinking tea, my gorgeous Welsh Father! He was overjoyed to hear that we had had the Priest in, and we all had a lovely day with him visiting, and the very next day, Mother's Day, my Mom wanted a day alone with just him. The rest of us spent the day at the Horse Races, as we did with my Mom and Dad every Mother's day, and we all stopped in on our way home to check on him, and to pick up our Mom. He had been in and out, sleeping most of the day, but she had him all to her self, which I thought was so lovely. That night near Midnight, we received a call from the Nursing staff, that he was slipping away, and to come quickly. We all, 6 kids and our Mom, all 13 Grandchildren arrived in time to see him go peacefully in his sleep. I have no regrets, not even wanting one last trial of the Antibiotics. I wish he had never had this awful disease, but he was the Best man I ever knew, the Best Father hands down, and I know that he wouldn't have wanted to live out his days on a feeding tube, unable to manage his own bowels, or ever enjoy food again, dependant on everyone for everything! He's gone to a better place, now joined by my own Wonderful Mom, both now gone 12 & 13 years ago this year. I miss them so much, but I can't complain, as I had the best parents ever, and not everyone can say that. They also left me with a great network of 5 siblings that have wonderful characteristics of them both, so its often like their not gone at all. I have no complaints. They gave us a wonderful life and showed us what True Love really is. I am blessed!
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Charlie the very fact that you are feeling these feelings of guilt show you loved and cared for your Mother. When I got the phone call that my Mom had passed I actually said Good. I meant it in the best of ways. Good cause my Mom had left her poor, old, sick body. Not good for me cause I miss her every day. But good for her.

Don't beat yourself up Charlie. You were a good son.
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As she was dying, you wanted her in a better place, those are good thoughts. I held mom's hand and told her "There's a big party! They are all waiting for you to get there!!" You give them permission to go, that is good!
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Charlie, my heartfelt sympathy to you and your family for the passing of your Mother.

I was doing the same type of thinking as you were as I watched my Mom [98] pass. It was a combination of much relief and sadness mixed together. My life had been turned upside down and I was exhausted through this journey of old age, and the final 3 months of accelerated dementia. My Mom wasn't the person she once was, very bright with a sense of humor... all of that was gone and she was a shell of herself.... it was like, who is that person?
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Wow. Thank you all so much. This helps incredibly.
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Charlie, reading your comments really touched me, as I lived exactly what you described...
My mom passed away on December 18th, 2 days before her 87 birthday and I was with her at home when she passed away peacefully from heart failure. Never would have I thought she would die that night, but the last year had been difficult, being bed ridden, refusing something to eat or not swallowing food. But then again, with her vascular dementia condition, there were also some wonderful moments where she was all there and said precious and wonderful things to me. I will cherish those moments for ever.
I started feeling guilt after she passed away, asking myself if I had I done everything I could over these last few months, despite being a constant caregiver to her for the last 3 years.
I take comfort in the fact that doctors, friends and family told me all the same thing, she had lived a full life and the last few years were not what she would have wanted, being the dynamic and independent person she was all of her life.
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As humans, we want to feel that we control or at least understand our environment. That's largely an illusion. Our loved one will die whatever we do. Certainly our thoughts don't change anything.

If your mother was a good and loving person, she would probably also be "relieved" that your ordeal (as well as hers) is over and you can be somewhat free to start your own life. Your mother wants you to be happy. Do your best. Hugs to you.
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