Guilt and Grief: coping with the shoulda, woulda, couldas

When my dad died I remember well the intense guilt I had in the months that followed.  Though his death didn’t fit into one of the categories known for guilt, that didn’t stop me from feeling guilty.  I felt guilt that I wasn’t a match for a bone marrow transplant, though rationally I knew I had no control over that.  I had guilt that I hadn’t called him more during my first year of college, guilt that in the hospital we had told him it was okay to let go and that we would be okay without him.  When my sister’s boyfriend died of an overdose years later, my guilt went to a new level.  I rehashed all the things I felt I should have done, all the negative thoughts I had over the years, and approximately a million other guilt-thoughts that often plague survivors of substance losses.

Now, we could just assume I have guilt issues (quite possible) but luckily I have worked with enough grievers over the years to know that my guilt when grieving is the rule, not the exception.  In our experience most grievers have some level of guilt associated with their loss – sometimes big, sometimes small.  We have had a lot of comments about guilt on the blog and facebook lately.  So today we are thinking about, talking about, and embracing guilt and grief (well, sort of).

If you have ever felt guilt associated with your loss and articulated it to someone else there is a good chance you heard some variation of, “oh, don’t feel guilty!” or “you shouldn’t feel that way, it wasn’t your fault”.   If you’re like me, your inner-angsty-14-year-old probably screamed “don’t tell me how to feel, you don’t know me!!”.  In case you were worried, that is a totally normal reaction.  If you missed it, we wrote a post a while back about why you should never tell a griever not to feel guilty. You know us – trying to educate the world on how not to piss off a griever, one blog post at a time.

Here’s the deal – guilt is a feeling.  Feelings need to be validated and we need to find ways to accept, integrate, and move forward with these feeling.  We can’t stop feeling guilty because someone tells us to – sorry, that’s sadly just not how feelings works.  So, when it comes to why we feel guilt, it is important to reflect on the reasons for our guilt and then consider ways we can cope with guilt.  But first and foremost, we need to accept that guilt is a common and normal feeling in grief.

Why Do We Experience Guilt and Grief?

Because we really did something wrong.

As much as people are quick to say something wasn’t our fault or we shouldn’t feel guilty, a reality of life is that we all screw up sometimes.  We make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes have significant consequences.  Sometimes we fail to do things we wish we had done or should have done.   That may be as large as a grievous error in judgment or mistake that led to a death.  It could be as small as something hurtful we said, or something meaningful we failed to say.

Because we feel like we did something wrong.

As our dear cyber-friend Marty over at has been known to say, just because you feel guilty doesn’t mean you are guilty.  There are many, many times that we grievers are completely irrational.  As we have been known to say, grief makes you crazy!  We dissect every moment of time with our loved one, we consider every ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ you can imagine.  Our irrational brain will find just about anything to feel guilty about.  Despite being irrational, this guilt can be consuming.

Because we want order.

This is a big reason for why we experience guilt and blame, though as grievers we often fail to see this connection.  The bottom line is this: without someone or something to blame, we have to accept that the universe may be unpredictable and chaotic.  If we think we could have done something differently that would have changed the outcome of a loss, that can provide comfort that there is a rational order to things and that we have some control.  If we accept that we never could have known or changed the outcome we must accept that some things that happen are complete outside our control.  As long as we hold on to guilt we have hope that we could have controlled the outcome.   A perception of control (however inaccurate) is often more comforting than considering that we have no control.  Talk about the lesser of two evils . . .

As usual, the question becomes what do you DO about guilt?  Here are some quick tips for coping with guilt:

  1. Acknowledge that guilt is a normal grief emotion and don’t let others minimize the validity of your grief experience.
  2. Consider what your guilt is all about.  Is it rational?  Is it irrational?  Is it about control?
  3. Talk it over with others.  Though you don’t want people minimizing your feelings, talking about guilt can help you reflect on your grief.  A good counselor or support group is a great environment to talk about feelings of guilt.
  4. Examine your thoughts.  Often our guilt thoughts, whether rational or irrational, start to consume us.  They can drag us down into one of those bottomless black holes – the kind that are full of isolation, despair, and far too much wine and ben & jerry’s ice cream.  In order to adjust your thinking, you have to know what your guilt thoughts are and notice them when they arise.
  5. If your guilt feelings are irrational, admit it.  This doesn’t mean dismissing your feelings of guilt.  It means acknowledging that, though you feel guilty, you may not actually be guilty.  Some common examples are acknowledging you did the best you could with the information you had at the time, you couldn’t predict the future, there were many other factors at play other than your behaviors, etc. Being honest with yourself about your guilt is important, and accepting that grief is sometimes irrational can be helpful.
  6. Find positive thoughts to balance your guilt thoughts.  “Thought stopping” is a technique with mixed reviews among the mental health crowd.  The idea is this – when you notice a negative thought taking over (ie guilt) make a conscious effort to stop and replace the thought.  Though it may not be quite this simple, there is value in having a positive thought to balance negative guilt thoughts you experience.  For example, if you are feeling guilt that you were not there at the moment of your loved one’s death, when that thought comes up be prepared with a thought about the many times you were there.
  7. Forgive yourself.  Easier said than done, right?  You can start with this post on making amends and then check out this post on self-forgiveness.  Remember, forgiveness does not mean condoning or excusing.  Forgiveness can mean accepting that we may have done something we regret, but finding new attitude and perspective toward ourselves in relation to that action.  It doesn’t mean we forget, but means we find a way to move forward.
  8. Figure out what you have learned.  Guilt often teaches us something.  It can be something about ourselves or about the world.   We can learn and grow from almost any emotion (cheesy, but true) so take some time to consider what your guilt has taught you.
  9. Do something with your guilt.  Whether rational or irrational, you can use your guilt to help others.  What you do may come out of things you have learned. Whether it is educating others so they can avoid the mistakes you feel guilty about, raising awareness about causes of death (anything from heart disease to substance abuse to suicide), or simply encouraging others to talk with their family about end of life wishes, you can use many guilt experiences to help others.
  10. Consider what your loved one would tell you.  Get yourself in a space to truly focus on thinking about your loved one.  Imagine telling them how you are feeling – your regrets, your guilt, all of it.  If there are things you wish you had said, say them.  Then imagine what your loved one would tell you.

Guilt is a HUMONGOUS topic.  We have only scratched the surface today, so leave a comment to share your story and anything that has helped you with your guilt.  Then make sure to subscribe to get all our posts right to your inbox.

April 12, 2017

115 responses on "Guilt and Grief: coping with the shoulda, woulda, couldas"

  1. My ex-wife passed away in a hiking accident where she got lost. We were divorced a year before that happened. Sometimes, I go through old emails of our communications and I feel guilty as hell. I just didn’t treat her right and that just eats me up from inside. All she wanted was her own family with children, and I had lost interest. I wish I could go back and tell her, I am really sorry for mistreating her. Maybe, just maybe, if I was by your side, this accident would not have happened??? Who knows.

  2. So appreciate this article…………….my best friend who had a form of bone marrow cancer passed away during a hospital stay for pneumonia. I am certainly running through the woulda, shoulda, coulda hamster wheel in my head – the day before she died her breathing had changed and she said she was scared. What if I had been more forceful with the nurses and the residents to get them to see that she was getting worse though her tests were looking ok???? Should I have talked to her more about the possibility that she would not recover??? Should I have held her more and rocked her??? She died at the end of October and I am working on glimpsing that she does not blame me for what went unsaid and what I should have done at least to reduce her pain more. I know I could not have changed the outcome because in the end it was the cancer that overwhelmed her body – just figuring out how to work through my guilt from that last day before she died. Your posts remind me I am not alone!

  3. My husband died on 9-21-18. I feel so guilty as if there was something more that I could have done. He had stage 4 Chronic Kidney Failure. He has lived with this disease for years. When we met he was not on disability or dialysis yet, because he refused to go on it. He wanted to work, and he did until he just couldn’t anymore. Mind you, he also had gouty arthritis and hypertension. He was put on dialysis in June of this year. He has been up and down as far as swelling and kidney function up and down and gout flare ups, but he always bounced back. And he was good for a while. This time he got sick and was sick for a couple weeks, could never get any relief, but we were holding out faith that he would get better this time too. The day before he died, he missed his dialysis appointment because he was hurting so bad and could barely walk. Again we think it will pass he just wanted to rest. But then he started throwing up and mind you he wasn’t eating and barely drinking but he wanted to just try seven up, did not want to go to the doctor. He did not want me to quit work and become his care giver either, always said this is temporary, just hang in there. I also wasn’t in the best of moods or stressed because we have a 3 and a 5 year old who don’t really understand why daddy always hurting or sick, they are being kids. So my attitude could have been better. But I got everyone off to sleep and I tried to lay down. Now I don’t know if throughout the night he was trying to tell me he needed to go, or he was going somewhere, but the next thing I know, I’m woke up with my youngest son bouncing around my head, and I turn over and my husband is cold to touch, but not stiff, but he isn’t responding to me. I call 911 and they have me move him to the floor to administer CPR. I do this until they show up only to find out he was already gone. I keep thinking why did i go to sleep. I should have stayed up with him, I should have insisted he go to the ER. But we just thought this was like the other times, and that we had more time. I can’t get it out my head. I am trying to be so strong for my kids that I have not really begun to break all of this down. I’m so lost.

    • Hi Angela, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your husband sounds such an amazing, thoughtful person. It is only natural to think ‘if only I had realised how ill he was, if only I had called for help sooner’. The problem is we don’t have all the facts at the time. The people we love want to keep going, not to make a fuss, not to worry us. Nobody can see into the future. You sound like a very kind, supportive person. Your husband died with you beside him, safe and warm. Not such a bad way to go.

  4. Thank you so much for your posts on guilt and forgiveness. My dearly beloved husband died on 22 September 2018. Three months and eight days earlier he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He had never smoked a cigarette in his life. From the moment of his diagnosis he started slipping away from me at an incredible pace. It was hell. And although I was with him almost 24/7 throughout the entire process, there was nothing I could do to stop it. Nothing I could do to stop his suffering. Or was there? I now feel guilty about so many things. About not being able to stop his disease or his suffering. About wanting his suffering to end, so in fact wanting him dead. About telling him that we (our daughter and I) would be fine and it would be okay for him to leave us – it wasn’t, it will never be okay. But most of all I feel guilty about being alive when he is dead. But at the same time I feel envious as his suffering is now over and my suffering has never been greater. And of course that selfish thought has led to even more feelings of guilt. Most people I have shared these feelings with have told that I should simply stop feeling guilty. That it will not help me move on. But the guilt is just there and I now realize that it has a right to be there and that it’s normal. It’s all part of the grieving process, part of loving and losing.

  5. My bf wife passed 5 months ago. Everything was good until it came down to intimacy. He feels guilty about things he did to her during the marriage. Feels guilty for moving on. Feels guilty for yelling at her when he came home. So he’s not able to relieve himself and cum. Is there anything I can do to help him stop thinking of that. I believe he needs to forgive himself ask her forgives even though she’s gone and try to be happy. He gas 5 kids that I love. His kids are my kids friends. But it’s becoming an issue between him and myself. He shuts down. He says hes just thinking. Is he just not ready? When we’re together with kids and music he seems fine then when we go home he’s a different person. I’m confused because I know we are good together. I can help him with the kids but just wish his guilt weren’t taking control of his thoughts.
    Please any suggestions?

    Thank you Lupe

  6. I feel guilty because my mum was experiencing stomach pain and feeling sick the day before she died. I have since found out that I learnt in first aid that stomach pain and nausea is a warning sign for women of a possible heart attack. I asked if she wanted me to call an ambulance and she replied either ýou could or should’. I said that we will organize a doctor’s appointment for the next day and see what they say. I even thought about calling Nurse on Call. Because she wasn’t experiencing chest pain I decided on waiting for the doctor’s opinion.
    That night I helped my mum to bed and made sure that she had her medical alarm handy and explicitly to her to press if she felt bad. Throughout the night mum groaned but I let it go as she had done this before and told me not worry as it was her way of on this occasion I didn’t go in and check.
    Two o”clock the next morning Mum got up and went down to the kitchen. She called out that she had fallen down. This happened regularly. I told that she should have stayed in bed. It was a lot more difficult to pick her up this time. I since found out she may have been having a heart attack. She died in my arms. The moment before she died ,Mum, looked at and a look of relief came over her face

  7. I just want to say that this article really helped me. I’ve been dreaming about my loved constantly. Every time I close my eyes to sleep I have horrible guilt ridden dreams about them. Today I about lost it and couldn’t handle the the grief and guilt anymore. I searched the internet, went on a walk, called out of work, even had a glass of wine to try to calm down. Tried everything and then I found this article and went through each bullet. I have a handle on my irrational guilt now. I’m going to continue to implement these tricks when my thoughts overwhelm me. Thank you so much.

  8. I’ve lost my parents weeks apart , what helped me is to think of it if it was reversed, if it was exactly the same situation but I was the one who died.

    Would you have blamed your Dad if he hadn’t noticed you were short of breath? or if he couldn’t fly out to see you? No you would just want him to know you loved him and he did.

    Focus on the love you have for him, it is still there and you can connect with him through it, the guilt will block it.

  9. I grew up in a toxic household. My Mom had two sons before she met my Dad from a previous marriage. They were 6 and 9 years older than me. They were absolutely horrible to my Dad for many years. One reconciled later on and the oldest one never did. I see them both 4-5 times per year and have mostly forgiven how they made my Dad’s life terrible. I know this is not unusual within families with step children, but what made it worse was that my mother turned against my Dad too.

    From the time I was 7 or 8 my Mom started to side with her kids and be nasty to my father. Also she became a verbally abusive alcoholic. Mostly to my Dad but sometimes to me and my sister. She would try to manipulate me and my sister to be mean to my father. Thankfully I was old enough to see that she was a lying drunk and I remained close to my Dad always. My sister however didn’t side with my Dad and shut off my father. He had little to no relationship with her for almost ten years because of my mother and oldest brother. I stopped speaking to my sister because she hurt my Dad so much.

    My Dad was a very sad man during this time but he stayed in the guest room and kept providing for our family because he wanted to be close to his kids and be able to care for them. He shielded me and protected me from so many things. He would hide my mother when she was being nasty and drunk. He would clean up after her when she vomited up all over the floor before we would notice. Mostly he just put up with hell from my mother so that he could be there for me and my sister. If he hadn’t been there I never would have never accomplished anything. If not for him I would have never worked hard to go to a top school or been driven to succeed. I told him this, but I was never emphatic enough in my opinion.

    With my Dad I always acted tough. I told him I loved him always and did a lot with him, but I was never gushing with love and excitement like he was. He absolutely bubbled with enthusiasm every time I spoke with him and walked on cloud nine while we were together. Always gushing me with praise and love. I wish I had reciprocated more. He never told me but I know now that he would have liked to have spoken every day. Just to keep touch and be in my life. I acted too busy for this and we spoke on average twice per week. They were long conversations 20 – 30 mins and were great, but I should have noticed that he craved for more because he had time and was sooo interested in my life. I typically saw him 4-5 times per year for 2-3 days at a time. So around 10-12 days per year. I know this is not out of the norm for many families but it is connected to the guilt that I feel.

    My Dad started to experience shortness of breath in April. I did not fly home to be with him when he went to the Dr. My step-mother went with him and I didn’t think it was anything serious. He left the Dr. thinking that he was fine because the Dr. told him that it was likely connected to him being out of shape from not walking enough during the winter and gaining 15 lbs. He ruled out the heart as an issue with the typical tests, and he was supposed to have a CT scan of his lungs to determine if there were any clots in his lungs but the testing facility gave him the wrong CT scan that didn’t have enough detail. The Dr. decided that the test was negative even though the wrong test was administered. He said there was a small cloud in his lung but that it wasn’t anything to be alarmed about. During the six weeks he was walking four to five miles per day but it was taking him a considerable amount of time. I never pressed him for these details when we spoke. I just assumed he was doing great like always and focused our conversations on UNC sports.

    As I detailed in an earlier post, I saw him on Memorial Day weekend. He seemed fine and I didn’t notice anything at first. We went for a hike and that’s when I saw that something was wrong. He was getting way too winded for someone with his past level of fitness. Also, his wife told me that the testing facility gave him the wrong CT scan without contrast. At the conclusion of the weekend, I made him promise me that he would go to the Dr. as soon as he got home.

    My Dad went to the Dr. on May 31st and had another round of bloodwork and x-rays. There was a small cloud in his lung again that had reduced in size since the last exam. He also had low oxygen levels in his lungs. The Dr. told him that he thought he had a lunch issue and sent him home with an appointment for the three days later with the lunch specialist. My Dad called me to tell me the news. I had a great call with him and told him how much I loved him and that I would always take care of him. Then the next day he died of a pulmonary embolism. I got to say about ¼ of the things that I wanted to say to him. I know this is better than most, but he deserved all the praise in the world.

    The reasons that I feel bad are the following:

    I was planning to fly him up to see me and go to the ACC tournament in Brooklyn week of March 5th. I didn’t because I was switching jobs and I had been flying home for weekends to care for my mother who had knee replacement surgery in February.
    I cut a corner here with him and this weekend I could have noticed something
    He called me and asked for me to fly home last minute and see him one week while his wife was gone. I declined because I only had a weeks notice and flight prices were expensive. I talked to him a lot that week to make up for it.
    I cut another corner here when he wanted to see me
    When he called me to tell me about the shortness of breath it was around the same time of his birthday. I didn’t fly back because we had decided to do a big Memorial Day trip together.
    Again, I cut another corner and didn’t go see him when I could have
    When I saw his health I didn’t take an urgency with him. I could have forced him to the ER
    I was just so used to him being fine that I didn’t think anything was wrong. Also the fact that he had seen the Dr. multiple times just made me assume it was nothing urgent
    I should have googled CT scan with contrast and learned what that was meant to detect

    All in all I know that many people would have reacted the same as me and it was just a bad set of unlucky circumstances. It is just hard accept because he was there for me on sooo many occasions and in so many ways throughout my life. I wish I had been there for him. To save his life would have been the ultimate thank you for the lifetime of unconditional love that he showered upon me.

    I know that my path forward is to use this experience as fuel to make myself a better person and to value the fact that I had 30 years with an amazing father. He had 74 years so he still had a pretty long life compared to many. It is just hard to accept that and move on to my new reality. A reality that I never dreamed would happened this early and he didn’t deserve. He just deserved so much more in life. I just want one more weekend, one more fishing trip, one more hug, one more smile, one more chance to tell him how wonderful he was.



  10. My husband passed away 2 weeks ago at our home from a massive heart attack at the age of 32. He came home and told me he didn’t feel good. I asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital but he said no- it was just indigestion. He kept assuring me it just felt like he had a gas bubble in his throat. He said it couldn’t be his heart and he just had a work up with a cardiologist and got the all ok. He took tums and said he was feeling better. He took our dog for a car ride and rented a movie. I went to bed. I heard him come home and go into the bathroom and a few minutes later I heard a loud thud. Once I figured out it could have been him and rushed into the bathroom I found him face down, unconscious. I called 911 and the operator wanted me to roll him over and start CPR. He was a 300 lb. man and I have severe rheumatoid arthritis. I tried so hard but I couldn’t roll him over. I ran outside to find help and it took forever to find someone and by then the paramedics and police arrived. They weren’t too quick getting into help him either. He was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later. The guilt I feel is eating me alive. It keeps me up at night. I feel guilty that I didn’t make him go to the hospital as soon as he said he didn’t feel good. I just had this feeling it was something serious but he was so adamant it wasn’t. Guilty that I couldn’t turn him over and perform CPR… I’m convinced I would have saved him if I could have and blame his death completely on myself. Guilt that I couldn’t find help sooner. Guilt that my kids no longer have their father. Guilt that our dog is depressed and loosing hair because she misses her dad immensely. Guilt that I didn’t appreciate him enough when he was alive. It’s helpful though a little to know I’m not alone in my feelings.

  11. I recently met someone….we only dated a couple of weeks, let’s just say they were 3 pretty intense weeks. I immediately realized he had some demons to overcome. Me being me knew he was put in my path for a reason, even if it was just to give him a little love, friendship and an ounce of happiness-even for a short amount of time. I don’t think I realized just how serious these issues were, being that I’ve never known anyone with an alcohol and substance abuse problem. I am overwhelmed with guilt and it’s eating me up inside. The last thing he sent me through a text and voicemail was, Cat I need you. I did absolutely nothing. I was sure he’d sleep it off and we’d see each other once his episode was over. Wrong! He’s gone! The guilt is not really for myself but for not doing a darn thing n now his mother and father have lost their only child and his 2 daughters will never truly know their dad. Why didn’t I go to him when he said he needed me? Why did it take me so long to check if he was ok? Why didn’t I reach out to his family? Why did I ignore him? Why did I screw up so badly? Why didn’t I take him seriously? How could I close my eyes and sleep while he was alone and dying?!?!

  12. Dear Sue, there are times where events overtake us and nothing goes right. You didn’t know about the blood thinners. In hospital, you tried to get nurses to help with the urine bottle. You rushed home for medicine. And how could you have known about the catheter? You wanted to stop the tubes being pulled out. You were doing what you thought was the right thing at the time, with the best of intentions.

  13. My dad suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder from Vietnam war since before I was born and all through my life. We never had a “normal” relationship due to his mental illness. My mom and separated when I was just 3 and he chose to live on his own. He was prescribed tons of medications and lived like a homeless person in his own home. He didn’t want help or to be cared for but this was part of his condition. For years my dad was not well and I tried to do the best I could for him. I had him 302’d several times so he would get proper treatment but it was an almost impossible process. They would just keep him a few weeks until “stable” and send him back home even though he needed a lot more time to be treated. Honestly my dad had a thousand lives, he was constantly in and out of hospitals and psych wards but was extremely resilient for some reason.
    Unexpectedly, he dropped dead one day in his house. Not sure the cause of death but it happened and it came by surprise. I wasn’t ready at all. I still had hope to change things around for him. Some days I think I’ve accepted that this is what life turned out to be for him after fighting for his country doing what he was asked to do , and suffer for the rest of his days. But I can’t help but ask a million reasons why and how did this all happen and maybe had I been more involved in his life earlier on the outcome would be different . But I was Just a kid I didn’t understand or know how to handle him or the situation. Why am I still Blaming myself.. it’ll be 3 years and I still Question.

  14. My husband fell backwards down the stairs at home. The doctor was coming that morning and confirmed nothing broken and that he would have a lot of discomfort and just to take paracetamol. He was pretty stiff and had headaches for a couple of days then just after lunch four days later he suffered a brain haemorrhage and was rushed into hospital. The ambulance crew said he should have gone straight away after the fall because he was on blood thinners and should have been taken off them. Over the first few hours he was able to communicate with some speech and gestures but it was clear that he couldn’t understand everything being asked of him. We were told it was a wait and watch strategy to see whether the bleed would stop, but they were reasonably positive.
    We explained that he would want to use the urine bottle himself and to have one on the bed for his use as the urge came on suddenly. They said no he had to ring for one, which he couldn’t do. We warned them that he would try to get up if there wasn’t one there, his upper body strength was very good for a man in his 80’s, and we asked them to put him in view of the nursing station and put an alarm mat under him, neither of which they did. As a consequence he tried to get up in the night and had a bad fall – but they didn’t call me and I was only told when I phoned first thing in the morning. We rushed to the hospital and he was in a dreadful state and covered with bruises on his upper chest, neck and jaw. He could no longer feed himself and was in a lot of pain. I had to go home to get more medication as they didn’t have the right drugs. They put on an external catheter which he found unbearable but I didn’t know and I thought he needed to urinate and I told him it was OK as he had a pad on. He became very distressed as I didn’t understand that he wanted the catheter removed and I held his hands firmly as he was trying to pull off the bed clothes and as he tried to pull out the intravenous tubes in his arms. I feel I let him down so terribly when he needed me so much to help and understand him. I am haunted by having let him down and having exacerbated his intense suffering when we had had such a close and caring marriage.

  15. My dad passed two nights ago after two years of Alzheimers and the last three months really being no life at all. I thought I did all I could, but in the last three months I moved him three times as the one of the placed provided terrible care. I fear the stress I caused by moving him and the poor care at one of the places caused a earlier demise. He wasn’t going to last too much longer anyway, and perhaps dying now was in his best interests But I just cannto help thinking had I made better decisions he would have lived long, perhaps more healthy, and we could have had him longer. This guilt just compounds the grief I feel by losing him. My dad was 93 (just even tears me apart to speak of him in the past tense) and had 91 good years before diagnosis. Who am I to complain. But it hurts like heck and I just feel I cause him to die sooner and perhaps be suffering more.

  16. Why is it when feelings of guilt over one thing start up it usually creates a flood of everything I’ve ever felt guilty for?
    My Father passed away from lung cancer 2 and a half years ago. And unlike most, I don’t have the usual woulda, shoulda, couldas. I dropped my entire life, as I knew it, the day after he called me to tell me and packed up and moved to go take care of him. His prognosis was not a good one but we had hope. Early on he told me that he never wanted to be ‘kept alive by machines’ and as his caregiver he signed medical power of attorney over to me. He was hospitalized several times but the last time (which at first were didn’t know was going to be the last time) they took him to ICU and put him on a breathing machine. He wasn’t intubated but it was basically a forced air external life support. It all happened so fast that I didn’t understand what they were doing or what he was being hooked up to or what condition he was in. He was conscious and lucid but apparently didn’t seem to understand either. The next afternoon, I spoke with his Dr after several tests had been completed. He explained that my Daddy was dying and there was nothing more they could do for him. He also explained that the breathing machine was the only thing keeping him alive at that point. I was devastated… not only that my Daddy was dying but that I had let them put him on one of ‘those machines’ that he detested and very frequently reminded me about. I spoke with my younger sister and we decided that we would honor his wishes and let him go. I told the Dr that evening and signed the paperwork. I have zero guilt about that decision and I never have.
    Like I said before, my Daddy was conscious and coherent and otherwise normal except he couldn’t breathe. This breathing machine was a big, bulky mask and it made it hard for him to talk to us so, he would take it off at times for brief moments to join in our conversations. After I signed those papers, the nurse came in and said, “I’m going to put this other mask back on you so you can talk and visit with your daughters better”. He said, “Whew! Thanks! That thing is terrible! I couldn’t hardly hear them and I certainly couldn’t talk to them”. Later Daddy said he was tired and wanted to take a little nap. I hugged and kissed him and told him goodnight. I started crying and he said, “It’s okay, I’ll see you in the morning. You are going to be here, aren’t you?”. “Yes sir, I’ll be here”. We sat and held his hands and watched him sleep and struggle to breathe for 5 hours until he just didn’t take another breath. I never told my Daddy that he was never going to wake up.
    I’ve questioned that decision every day since. My reasoning was that I didn’t want him to be stressed out… all I could think was how horrible it would be to know that when I close my eyes that I’ll never open them again. But- What if he wanted to pray and ask for any final forgiveness? What if there were things he wanted to say? People he wanted to say bye to? Did I deny him a basic dignity? A basic opportunity? It eats me up…..

  17. Im so glad I found this site. Im up tonight torn apart by guilt! All the shoulda, woulda, couldas, hating myself for making the wrong decisions.
    I live in Arizona. My brother called me on Dec 27th saying my dad was in the hospital, they didnt know if he would make it through the night. I called the hospital and had them put the phone to his ear. ” I love you dad. I will be there as soon as I can. You get better ok? I love you” of course like he always did he told me dont come. Then he said something that haunts me. ” will call you when I get out of the hospital” he was coherant enough to talk to me.
    I flew in on Dec 30th, my cousin picked me up and took me to the hospital. They had put stents in the day before. When I got there he was half in and half out but somehow he said things that assured me he knew I was there. My cousin couldnt drive at night because of night blindness so we left after about an hour or two. I kissed my dad and told him “I will back tomorrow.”
    The next day was New Years eve. My brother didnt drive so I drove the van. Dad had been hitting curbs because he was having a hard time seeing. The rim on the van was bent so I could only drive short distances. The hospital was 35 to 40 minutes away. I had to use the phone directions because I didnt know my way around. I tried to get the rim and tire fixed with no luck. Meanwhile me and my brother were cleaning the house because we knew when he came home he would need a clean place.
    During all this I couldnt get to the hospital to see my dad. The calls were coming from the hospital to keep us informed on dads progress.
    He was doing better, his virals were good, he was being tranferred to a regular room from ICU.
    Good news.
    I celebrated New years with my brother at the house, which was also his birthday. I bought him a cupcake and said “Happy Birthday”
    I tried to get the tire fixed on Jan 1st no one was open. That night all hell broke loose!! Dad pulled the feeding tube out, they had to go in and clean the stuff out of his lungs. 2 hours later at 1 am the nurse called “he needs a cpap” ok 1 hour later “hes being intubated” ok at 3 am I called to get a rent a car. I was done messing with the tire! I had to get to the hospital! They were supposed to pick me up at 9 am, at 9:30 I called them. They never got the message. I left with the rent a car at 10 am drove like crazy to the hospital. When I got there they informed that dad went into cardiac arrest and passed away. What? Nooooo!!!! I went into his room holding his hand telling him over and over “Im sorry I wasnt here” “I love you dad, Im sorry”
    Everday I cry! I shoulda got a rent a car from the airport, I should have been there everyday, I coulda spent more time with him, I shoulda been there, I shoulda rented a car sooner, I shoulda, I shoulda…..
    My heart is so broken! I beat myself up everyday mentally! Im tortured thinking he passed away and I wasnt there! I feel so guilty for not being there, not renting a car sooner, not taking an uber to the hospital! I was trying to be there for my brother, get the house ready for when dad went home, making plans to stay to take care of him.
    The one thig I didnt do was be at the hospital with my dad. I should have found a way to get there! I should have been there! If I was there maybe he wouldnt have “given up” as the nurse put it. Im so tormented, tortured, guilty, that I cant function! I walk around numb during the day and cry every night! Some days when Im alone too.
    I want a do over! Im such a bad daughter for not being there! All I have is guilt.

  18. Next to Nostalgia “Shoulda Woulda Coulda” is probably most of my grief. The combo together is basically looking back and reliving events from the last decade, last year, her last Week , her last hours. It’s like replaying a chess game you already lost. Examining every move trying to find the one that eventually lost the game. The one move that would deny Death’s Ultimate Checkmate. If that weren’t annoying enough there’s the guilt about little heretofore insignificant things that now have come to the forefront of memory. The silly arguments, Not going to Blues Alley last spring/summer. My only hope with all this is if it is a normal part of the process then for every thing my grief brings into question I need to try to find somethings that I know I did right. The smart moves, the good moves. When I played chess finding and remembering the best moves were all part of the learning process.


    I know exactly where you are coming from. I too lost my spouse January 2018 to a form of Cancer which strikes 6 out of one million women each year. I have to remind myself its only March and that it hasn’t been that long. It seems now that the bad days out number the good but at east there are some good days.

  19. I lost my husband in Jan 2018. He’d had multiple health issues for years – but miraculously always resurfaced doing well. It took him awhile to “bounce back” each time, but he did. He was older (79) but his mind was tack sharp. (He was a writer.) He’d had several hospitalizations where doctors told him he wouldn’t make it, but he did.

    This time, his body was deconditioned when he was told he got a second colon cancer (the first surgery was in 2014) and was not a candidate to have a partial section removed as before because he’d been on immune suppressant drugs for 12 years (he had a kidney transplant) and the prednisone he took caused his tissue to be extremely delicate. Doctors were worried that the colon would not “mend” causing massive infection. We went to several doctors — his trusted cancer doctor — each one said to get the surgery. My husband did not want the surgery. He was terrified of death. He kept saying “my luck has to run out sometime.” He wrote emails to people as though this was it, saying “if I don’t survive this surgery…” He was extremely depressed.

    Doctors said he needed to eat more protein and exercise for the recovery. They gave him 2 months to do this. He did the best he could re: diet and exercise, but he was so depressed, his wasn’t really making the effort he really needed to. He often was like this – eating food that made his condition worse, sitting at his computer for hours on end, not exercising enough. Becoming weaker and weaker. (we argued about it a lot over the years.) He went into surgery in October.

    He went through the surgery with absolutely no problem. Now, the recovery. As I said, he always fought doing things he should do to take care of himself. When the nurse was trying to sit him up on the side of the bed the day after surgery he was understandably in a lot of pain – I said something about how well he was doing sitting there and he lashed out at me. He lashed out at me often – especially after he’d come through something frightening. I went into the hall and cried, and the nurse came out and said they see this frequently, don’t take it seriously.

    Over the next two months, so much happened. His ostomy bag leaked, it was outputting too much, he was becoming dehydrated, wasn’t eating enough, and then ileus, and he aspirated ending up in the ICU for 9 days. then, it happened again a few days later. This time, they put a trach in (removed just before he was discharged) and a feeding tube to remove residuals if there was a backup again. Also, he received nutrition when he wasn’t eating. ( he refused food a lot ) He didn’t get a lot of PT because he also had a-fib and the therapists were too afraid to have him get up (even though the cardiologist said it was okay.) He lost a lot of weight and pressure wounds were getting bad. He was not drinking, or exercising, or eating the food as much. It was so difficult.

    But by early December, and he seemed to have come through everything all right and doctors were again amazed. I was being pressured to find a rehab for him (he could not stand or walk on his own so he couldn’t come home for followup care. If only he could stand on his own, get into bed…)

    Then, I found one that got 5 star rating on Medicare’s site. He was released there on a Thursday. He had scoliosis also, and had been on pain medication for years. The facility did not get his pain meds until 10:00 pm. I was there all day, hassling them, he vomited. I wondered if he even got any of his other medications. I called the surgeon who said he would follow up. The next day, my husband told me he hadn’t urinated all day. I called his nephrologist who ordered IV fluids. That night he did not seem well. (Why didn’t I get him out of there right then?)

    Then, two days later, he was admitted to a different hospital (no one was familiar with his history) with septic shock. The next morning, one of the doctors had written in notes; “survived the night.”

    That hospital did not treat him well – in a number of ways. He was doing horribly. They treated him like he was dying. He wasn’t getting the proper antibiotic treatment (I found out later.) Even before the infection cleared they said he had to be discharged (it had been 10 days) His nephrologist said to bring him home and then if “something happens bring him to the hospital” where all of his doctors were. I scrambled to get all the supplies, bed, care set up, etc.

    Within 10 hours, I noticed his urine was cloudy. He went back to the hospital.

    And with all of this, each time he was moved anywhere – even from one hospital room to another, he crashed. Mentally confused, refused food and water. And the day before he was to be discharged to another rehab, he was really in a bad way. The next day, the surgeon came in and said he could eat / drink whatever he wanted — within an hour, he was doing fine!!!

    That night I brought a homemade dinner to him. He ate it and read the New Yorker. A few days later, he was released to a nearby rehab. And I was running on fumes. The entire time, I had to sometimes fight with doctors, try to find out what was happening, what to expect. I never learned why one day he was fine, the next he wasn’t. A therapist told me that she thinks he rallied each time for me. We were incredibly close and I loved him so much.

    That first night he was in rehab, he was all right. The next day, crashed again. And it went like that daily – he begged me to “get him out of there.” I didn’t know what to do. He was in constant pain and nurses were disrupting his sleep every two hours turning him from side to side. Things got worse quickly. And he lashed out at me – blaming me if “something bad happens to him.” And he passed within 10 days. Even the day before, I was in denial that he was passing away before my eyes, as I held his hand and consoled him. The next day he was gone.

    I am tormented by the fact that had I not put him in that SNF to begin with – and instead took him home and paid whatever, he would be recovering. The last 2 weeks, he couldn’t feed himself, he refused food and water often. It just got worse and I blame myself at so many junctures. I keep telling myself it was all so complicated – that the infection could have tenaciously been there anyway to come roaring back. That it would take him months on end to recover anyway even if he had not had that terrible last ICU experience.

    Also, why didn’t I get him back to the hospital when he was begging me to get him out. I just didn’t know he still had the infection – even though they were giving him antibiotics there. He certainly would have gotten better treatment in the hospital. But then, would it have just drawn out his pain and suffering leading to the same result later?

    I’m so frantic and feel like he would forgive me. But I wonder how I will forgive myself. I’m seeing a grief counselor and going to a group. But not much is helping. I find myself sobbing and telling him “I’m sorry.” It has only intensified over the last two weeks. (even worse than in the beginning.) I need so much help.

  20. My sister was killed on February 12, 2018. She was hit by an SUV while on her morning walk. We hadn’t spoken since August. 2017, at which time she was visiting and staying in my home. She was very rude and disrespectful to me on this visit to the point that I asked her to leave and stay with her son. I blocked her calls and social media … waitain’t got an apology. The apology arrived a week before her death. A letter just before I went on a vacation. I was going to write her back after I got home. I got home on February 11 and received the call of her death the next morning. I didn’t get to ever let her know that I loved her and reconcile with her. Now the entire argument seems ridiculous and petty and pointless. Her husband, my mother and her son all told me she write the letter and told them she knew I would respond after my trip and her and I would be ok and that she knew I loved her. Her husband told me she knew she was hateful to me in August and that she was going thru menopause and having a very hard to time. All these words do not take away the guilt I feel that I did not get to tell her I loved her still and apologize for not shutting her out of my life. We have always had a difficult relationship and I know that a lot it was just the relationship we had as sisters and my brain says “One fight is not your entire relationship.” But my heart is broken knowing I can never make it right with her. I am thankful that I have the letter and the good memories but the guilt and heartache is at times unbearable.

  21. “Figure out what you’ve learned”? That just makes me feel even worse. It’s too late for me to apply any “lessons” in a meaningful way and this line of reasoning makes it sound a little like.. like it’s okay! Don’t worry! THAT son was just a practice run. You’ll do better with the next one! Like, not exactly what I want to hear. Kind of the exact opposite. Even eight years down the line. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.

  22. My mum passed on 29th December 2017 she had end stage dementia and I had prayed so many times for the end to come but I am still very sad even though I know she is free from pain and whole again. My guilt is from not being able to keep mum ato home and that decision I had to make nearly 7 years ago to have mum sectinned and put into a home. People tell me it was the right thing but I feel like I let my mum down as she never wanted to go into a home. As soon as she went into a home the light inside she had been battling to keep went out. From that time on she never used my name did not look happy to see me or smile at me; she smiled at others and spoke sometimes to them but not at me. I cried I apologised but any connection was lost. The homes she were did not do the best for her so I fought for better care and had numerous meetings overy complaints; we moved mum twice before we found a home that met her needs kept her dry and looked after her. It got that each time I visited it hurt so much so I reduced visits to twice a week sometimes only once and feel guilty I didn’t go every day and put mum first not my own feelings. I am just hoping that this guilt leaves me as I can’t change it. I spent 7 years looking for my mum she never came back and I do not miss the dementia mum but miss my mum from around 16 years ago before dementia but can’t really remember my mum pre dementia it just feels like I let my mum down she cared for her own parents and sister upto their deaths seeing them every day even though she worked night shints. She would go straight from work at 8am build their views.coal fire help them dress breakfast do their shopping washing cleaning and then get home at 1pm shattered got to bed then work and do the same again. Eventually when her mum died she brought her dad to live with her she did everything until the end and I think that’s what she would have wanted me to do. My circumstances different couldn’t give up work as my husband at that time had gambled our savings and we had debts so I had to continue working and take care of the money etc. I don’t think I would have coped for 7 years but possibly kept mum for another 2 to 3 years at home I will never know but will always regret this. I know time will heal but it’s still do painful

    • Hi Sylvia,

      I read your post. Im really sorry for your loss. I can’t offer any advice im dealing my my own guilt over my mother passing away. I just want to say that I work in a dementia unit and it is very hard sometimes I always think that im finding 12hrs shift difficult . Unless you had a great support network you would not of been able to cope at home . Your own health would of suffered. Your mam sounded like a very caring woman looking after your grandparents , I don’t know if they had dementia but looking after somebody with dementia is a huge challenge. If you kept her at home and supposedly you were in the bathroom and she decided to cook or something dangerous and something happened you would have felt guilty over not putting her in a home. Sorry for the long mail I hope something I said helps even a tiny bit.

    • Sylvia, you comment hit home for me. Doctor’s think my mother has dementia and I do as well but it has not been diagnosed yet. She was treated for psychosis and was in the hospital for a month and 5 days and was just released two days ago. I brought her home as I had to “try”. I couldn’t move her to a facility right away because I feel I would have failed. I told my husband that if she comes home and I can’t take care of her than at least I tried. A little backstory, my parents divorced in 2010, my brother and I started to notice mom changing in 2015, my brother died by suicide in 2016 and mom has not been the same since. My husband is disabled and in a wheelchair, my oldest son is ADHD and autistic, youngest son is ADHD and then I have a daughter; their ages are 11, 9 and 7. Also, in 2017 my dad slipped off the back of a boat while cleaning it and he had scans done and he found out he’s had multiple mini strokes. So I have a lot of my plate, I don’t feel like superwoman, I just feel like it’s my job to take care of everyone, but it’s a lot to manage and handle on my own and I feel overwhelmed most days. I’m afraid if I have mom go into a facility that I let her down, she doesn’t want to go, she wants to be home and I’m trying to take her wishes into account as well. I’m afraid I’ll make a wrong decision and she won’t want me around or won’t want to see me and that breaks my heart to think about. Like you said, I don’t want that light to go away if I decide I can’t do it at home. I don’t want to think in my own mind that I killed her and I already have guilt just thinking about it. Which I didn’t realize until just know when I typed that last sentence. I pray you find peace in your decision, I truly do!

      Jennifer- you are correct, it is a LOT of work. I don’t think I could do what you do, I mean we take care of our loved ones but I only take care of one. It is a lot of strain on your mind and body. I thank you for taking care of our loved ones in a facility!

  23. My dad started dialysis in Feb 2016. I went through resentment and anger and was very vigilant in the beginning. I started caring and more importantly showing him that I cared. I took him to a renowned hospital for a second opinion about getting a kidney transplant. I took a lot of pictures and videos of him. I emailed random doctors, institutions to get information on how to make him feel better. Dialysis brings unpleasant side effects like loss of appetite, nausea, itching, etc with it. Time flew and doctors kept saying his numbers looked good. When asked by doctors my father would say… he was good. We got used the the daily dialysis process that my mom used to do at home. I still spent time with him most evenings. My dad hardly complained. Some days he would look good and other days he would not. I have a stressful job and I need to travel so I continued going on my trips every 3 to 4 months. In 2017, as we got used to the daily routine of dialysis I became less vigilant. I still looked up articles about renal diet and I would print it for my dad. Not that a piece of paper would help someone who had nausea all the time. I once asked the nurse at his nephrologist office how long his patients my fathers age have been on dialysis. The nurse replied… I have a patient who has been on dialysis for 10 years. In my head, I thought that for my dad’s age, diet changes, etc that gives me about 3-4 years with him. I should have asked a doctor, researched his prognosis online. But I got what I wanted to hear from the nurse…10 years – did my math and accepted 3-4 years.
    I planned that I would step down from my stressful job by March 2018 and spend more time with my dad. November 2017 was a particularly bad month at work for me. I feel like I saw my dad but almost ignored him and his health. He had developed a bad cough and sounded like a lot of mucus in his chest. Some days he looked really weak and slept a lot. I was going on a trip to my native country to take care of some business. I was caught up with work until the last day I left. My dad came to the airport to drop me off with my mom. I drove the car and he was in the passenger seat. At the airport I hopped out of the car. My mom got out from back seat so she could drive back home. I gave my mom a hug. I was running late so I gathered my bags and started walking in. I turned around..wondered if I should go to the car and say Bye to my dad. I saw my dad looking at the rear view mirror looking at my in it. But I was running late and I assumed he would be there when I returned in 2 weeks so I did not turn back for a proper goodbye. My dad had my mom call me when they got home from the airport. He came on the phone and told me “Bon Voyage”. I was sitting at the gate and could not talk loudly in public so I just said Thank you and didn’t say much to him. He never called before when I left on my trips. Did he know he may not be around when I got back? Why didn’t he say anything? I would have cancelled my trip and ran home from the airport.
    2 days after I left my mom called and said his cough was not getting better. He had already been to his primary care doctor. I told my mom to take him to the hospital. I was relieved that he was going to be fine once he went to the hospital. He stayed at the hospital and they discharged him in 3 days like they do in the US. He came home went to see his nephrologist and his primary care doctor. She seemed to be doing good, although the cough was not all gone. 2 days later he passed away. I was in another country and had not said a proper good bye and had not given him proper attention for a few weeks before I left.
    My dad was a good man, he did not know to lie, not even a white lie. He was witty and had a good sense of humor. After he passed away I noticed that he always had a smile on his face in all his pictures from years and years ago to the most recent ones. My friends say that he always had a look of content on his face. How did I not notice that smile before . There was so much I was going to learn from him and talk to him about when I stepped down from my job in a few months. Now he is no more. I am left with guilt and regret. It has been a month and a half and I cry everyday. I cry at home and at work. I am still going to step down from my job like I planned. Only thing my dad is not part of that plan I had anymore. It is very difficult. Why didn’t I quit my job sooner? Why did I not ask more people than the nurse about the prognosis for this disease? I have to live with this pain until I die and then I will be free of this constant pain and regret. It really hurts that I wasn’t by his side in his last days.

    • Hello daddy’s girl. When I read your post I found myself relating to a lot of what you said. I too lost my dad and although it was two years ago I miss him every day. I also remember the last conversation I had with my father and wonder if I said I love you after our conversation like I usually did. I did not expect him to die two days later but I’m conformed in knowing that even though I may not have said I love you that he knew I did. I also felt after he died that I somehow neglected him because he had cancer and wasn’t feeling well a few weeks before he died. He finally did go to the doctor the morning before he passed away. The doctor just thought he had a bad cold so I remind myself that doctors are human and we are human too. The only one who knows that someone is going to die is truly God Himself but I understand how you feel. After two years it has gotten better for me. I hope my words comfort you in someway. Please know that what you feel is certainly very relatable and with time while you’ll still miss your father I think you will forgive yourself and realize that there was nothing you could have done and you never could have known he was going to pass when he did .

  24. I posted on Nov 14 So you can look back at my comments. It is now over one month later and I am beginning to. Be able to live with myself. I keep a journal and write my feelings and also write emails to my deceased husband,It also helps to go to the cemetery and sit and talk to him.His cancer was the fault of no one . I know in my heart that I did only what I was capable of at the time. I told him I wanted him to go into a nursing home because I knew I could not care for him. He was totally. Passive and just allowed me to react angrily and would never retaliate with words. Certainly I could have done better but I feel I did the best I could .I will have more days of guilt and sadness and that is an emotional response. Hopefully with web sites such as this I will overcome those feelings or at least they will become bearable. When I think of our time together I try to keep focused on the few good months we had before the constant visits for treatments.

  25. Hi everyone, I’m posting this from Sweden so please excuse my sometimes broken English.. I carry loads of guilt because of the way my beloved Mom died.
    Here’s my 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 hard 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 and help my Mom’s breathing, but I did hope it would… it was so stressful to see her breatha like that.
    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.
    The hardest thing to carry is that I saw that Mom didn’t want that second injection, but I was trying to ease her discomfort and was determined to save her!
    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 and don’t know how I ever will be able to forgive myself.I took away her goodbyes and probably the last two days of her life.

  26. My beloved, who suffered from alcoholism, passed away lasat spring. He was an incredibly talented, open hearted, generous spirited man. The drinking made regular employment difficult and caused conflict with my family. I threw him out of my house five years ago, making it clear that I could not live with him and the drinking, but we remained close friends. He loved me more than anyone has ever loved me but I held him at bay, afraid he would come back and we would be back in the same mess. When he developed clear signs of cirrhosis he finally sought medical care but it was too late. I told him to come back, and he did, but wanted to see his family out of state for a while. He went there and never returned. I am tortured by my inability to have accepted him and the related difficulties his illness entailed. He died alone and tried to call me when he was dying but my phone was not working. We never got to say good-bye or pick up from where we had left off. This is a tough lesson for me and I suspect I will pay for it in heartbreak until my dying day.

    • I am going through the same thing now. My fiancé and I were together 6 years and I left him because of his drinking. Otherwise he was a wonderful man who I loved more than I’d ever loved any man and who loved me more than anyone has ever loved me. We were apart about a year and half, but talking on occasion. I was also afraid to let him back in my life. I am heartbroken and filled with guilt. Im a nurse and I’m sure if I had stayed with him, I could have saved him. I am overwhelmed with sadness, guilt and regret.

  27. I lost my father last week. Ten days before that, he felt really ill while being in the park with my mom so i took him to the doctor. We were fearing that it might be a heartattack. I was sooo relieved when the doctor said it was a severe stomach flu. When after a week he still didnt get better, i took him to our personal gp. He looked him over and said he was under stress (my parents had just moved half way across the world to be with me and my kids. So they could take care of the grandchildren, pick them up from school, be there during holidays and sickness…now that my father was retired. It took us more than a year to get the paperwork in order). That the trouble he was having in breathing was due to hyperventilation caused by stress…Again i was relieved and just laughed away my fathers concern, telling him it was all in his head. In the end he had a fatal cardiac arrest that just ended everything. He got up to go to the toilet and just dropped dead. I called the ambulace, they tried to revive him, managed to get his heart beating again after 8min but it was all too late. I held his hand untill half an hour later he flatlined…
    My guilt is killing me. If i had just taken him more seriously, put him in the car and just driven him to the hospital. He was in a strange country with a strange language. He was my responsibility. He came here for me and now he will go back as ashes in a container. Every time i see and hear my mother cry, my heart breaks. Her anguish over loosing her life partner of 49 years is heartbreaking. She has not once blamed me but i know that had i done something more my father could still have been alive. So i know my guilt is very rational. I just dont know how I will be able to live with it.

  28. My cousin commited suicide i believe her father was sexually abusing her, i feel so guilty because i was always putting off visiting her (i have social anxiety) so i didnt even know she had passed till years later, i knew he was odd and did tell my grandma that he touched my bum but i never dreamed what he was doin to her id only heard rumors, but she was drinking heavy and goin out late at night so it gives me comfort to know i was there for her when she needed me and she could talk to me, she did often say she missed my mum and wanted to be with her but i never dreamed she would commit suicide she had a boyfriend but a nice house and adorable little boy, but i believe he was abusive i went to the house once and he complained, but i so wish i ignored him amd turned up anyway, but like your post says we cannot change the past but we can learn from it and i do take comfort knowing i can be there when someone else needs me and i can know that whatever happens it is out of my control but if i prevent something then thats great

  29. Guilt,,wow,,I lost the love of my Life a Few Months Ago, He had just. gotten off of work,, took a Sower,, Laid down (On the Couch) and was watching TV,, Me and our Son and Daughter were putting Pizza in the oven and all of a Sudden he Jumped up off the Couch saying his Stomach hurt and he was Hot, I said Hot? the Central Air is on I’m usually Hot,, whats wrong with your Stomach Our son said “Can you breath”? ,,he said No!,, we told him “Let’s go to the hospital” he said “I don’t want t go to the Hospital”,,,,,Call 911!,, Don’t call 911,, well,, Let’s Go!,, No,, I’m Fine,,he Goes,, into another Room Bent over Holding his Stomach,,,,then (For me) everything,, goes into Slow Motion,, he goes into the “Back Bedroom”,,bent Over in Pain,,(Refusing to go to the Car so we can take him to the ER),,,, He comes out,, walking past all of us ,,”STRAIGHT UP”,, as if her was’n’t in “ANY PAIN” any more,, so instead of him heading towards the Door to go to the Hospital I Say,,,”Let’s Go”! Instead he heads to the Bathroom Door,, so I ask him “where are you Going”? He says,, “Where do you think I’m Going, To The Bathroom”,, and Closes the Door,, all the while he’s in there,, We are asking Him if he’s Okay,, and He’s telling us through the Door “I’m Okay”!,, I’m Hollering “Let’s Go”! He’s Hollering through the Door,,”I’m Coming!, ,Wait A Minute!,,Don’t Call an Ambulance well we did anyway,, but He’s stead telling us “I’m Fine”,,I called Other People,, as wll,, and the Ambulance took forever coming,, but to make a long story short,,it got Quiet in the Bathroom we opened the door and he was Unconscious,,,that’ when the Slow motion effect Hit,,,when the Paramedic finally arrived it turned out he was having a “Heart Attack” I didn’t know a symptom was a Stomach ache,,,however,, when he came out the Back room walking straight and Painless,, I thought he had a stomach Bug,, ,, I knew,,(I knew) he was leaving, me,, I can’t shake the GUILT of feeling like Had I forced him out the door the MOMENT he said he couldn’t Breathe,, he would still be here,,,Had I not been in a Daze,, i could have done something Had I known CPR,, I could have saved him had I stopped talking through the door and taken him,, to the ER,, So Many other things came to mind,, after the Paramedics arrived 10 minutes later,, they said his Hands were Cold we got into the Ambulance I watched through the little Window through the Front Seat,, and saw them Jab him in the Heart,, which told me his heart Stopped,, I knew I was losing Him,,Yes He Passed away,, I Can’t get over this I can’t Function,, I’m Lost,, I Love Him so Much,,I Pray,, I’m Just at a Loss,,I’m Sick,,God Help Me

  30. my husband died over two months ago, when he died we were living apart. i blame myself everyday for his death, if i had let him move back in the house he would be alive. i cry all the time i should have taken him back, he told me he was in danger and i didn’t act, don’t know how to live with myself.

    • Hi. Sorry you lost someone special. I wondered if I could ask how you are doing? I have just lost my husband, we were living apart too, although I knew I wanted to take him back. I don’t know how I can ever live with myself, I wasn’t there for him when he needed me. It hurts so much

    • Nadz..your situation is somewhat like mine . I wanted my husband to go into a nursing home because he was terminally ill.I was so angry. We had only been married 6 months when he got cancer. Continuos doctor trips for over 3 years. He was passive about my outbursts. The he finally just shut me out when he did go into a rehab place, ofcourse I am now feeling guilty and horrible even though I did many good things in taking care of him.
      The guilt I feel since his death is overwhelming.

    • NADZ, I suspect we are having similar suffering….i threw my beloved out of the house five years ago. I always loved him but the drinking caused a lot of trouble between us. We remained friends, but this spring, he died of cirrhosis. Now I wonder if the stress of being nearly homeless contributed to his death and wish to God I could have learned to love him as he was.

  31. I lost my mom a week ago..she was suffering from pneumonia whose symptoms did go undiagnosed. She was having fever since a few days and genearl fatigue. The doctor diagnosed it to be a general viral fever and prescribed. A week after her condition worsened and she was diagnosed with pneumonia and it could not be controlled. She dies a day later due to sepsis. I feel guilty of not taking her to the hospital earlier. Though she didn’t have any serious symptoms earlier but I feel like I should have digged into the cause and offered her better medical help. She was everything to me. I lost my dad when I was 2 yrs old and since then she has done every possible thing for me. I loved her a lot and can’t imagine my life without. But what I feel like is that due to me being less vigilant and having missed her symptoms, I jus lost her. She went away in a day, being fine a day B4. She just went away so suddenly. I feel hell guily of not being able to do anything to save her life. I miss her a lot. I couldn’t do anything for my mom.:( Somebody please try to take this regret of me. I seriously don’t want this life.i don’t want to live but then I have to live for my brother whom I can’t give another shock by ending my life. I don’t want to live without my mom.

    • Your story is my story, almost to a tee. My mom also ended up dying from septic shock because i did not recognize that she had a UTI. I was just wondering how you’ve been doing? I’m still dealing with the same guilt, in fact, is seems to be getting worse instead of better. My mom died in may 2017.
      I hope you’re doing ok. I must wanted you to know your circumstances are very similar to mine, so you’re not alone.

  32. My brother died. Natural causes. He was 34 years old. What is “natural” about that? A few months before his death he admitted to using drugs again after years of being clean.

    That is my 1st moment.

    The 1st moment i regret. I carry the guilt and regret with me 100% of the time. I wish i had of responded better. Calmly. Instead i went vicious. I wanted to hurt him. In my rage i saw only red. After more than one hurtful comment i hung up the phone. My plan was to walk the 3 blocks down tl his house and punch him. Hard. In face. He had other plans. By the time i got down the street the police and ambulance were there. My sister had called them after my brother cut himself when i hung up on him.

    I shouldve talked to him. Told him that admitting it was huge and we could work on this. I should have been the support he needed.

    Fast forward a few months and he had landed himself in jail. Still using, thousands of miles away from home now. No longer 3 blocks down.

    The last words my brother heard from me were cold. He called collect from jail and i accepted the charges. He asked if our mom was there. I was silent then said “yup” and handed the phone over.

    Thats the 2nd. The 2nd regret that weights me down. Physically pushes me to the ground by times.

    I couldn’t have told him i loved him? Thats i was mad as hell but that i loved him? Was being so cold more of a statement?! I look back and im sickened by the person i was.

    I live constantly wondering if i had of reacted differently in the first scenario if maybe, just maybe, the butterfly effect of that decision couldve avoided the 2nd scenario all together.

    I know that logically thats not how the world works. But that logical thought doesnt help me at 4am when the pain of guilt and regret are front row center with no daytime distractions to cloud them.

    I am trying to learn from it though. I am always trying to breathe and think before reacting. Im just sorry i hadnt started sooner.

  33. I have the best dogs in the world, I didn’t even want to look at dogs when my girlfriend would ask me to go to a pet store. I ended up getting a pair with her. We had puppies from them, and we kept two. One I delivered. One convinced me to keep her the night before she was to be sold. She laid in me, had this look in her eye that was deep and meaningful. I decided to keep her. So I had four dogs . this special girl then conceived and perhaps changed. She seemed more lethargic, distended even. I put it down to a normal change since she was adult, and slowing down like her mom. About a year later she conceived again, then a third time. There was only six months between litters on the third time. She seemed normal but on the eighth week, when the puppies were just weaned, she stopped eating. I brought her to the vet for what seemed like liver failure. I didn’t realize until later after how sick she was, whether it was pregnancy or drinking pool water. I had her in emergency care for five days. I think the vet just kept her knowing she would decline. I took her to another vet as she was now in pain, and euthanasia was recommended. The new emergency care facility had more drugs, a surgeon. They did a plasma transfusion, and drugs. They told me she was worsening, there was nothing I could do. They refused to do surgery, saying she had a five percent chance. I spent the afternoon with her, and euthanized her. She was only six. I feel like I caused the illness, band ultimately took the life of my soulmate. I can’t seem to shake the guilt, I tell myself she lives on in her puppies. That life isn’t fair. But I should have picked up on her symptoms. That maybeb I should have tried a feeding tube and rest.. Holistic medicine. I find it hard to live with myself. It’s now three days later. I feel completely responsible, but I will ensure her babies have babies, I think that’s ultimatelly what life is about. I rationalize. I still feel broken and guilty

    • Don’t post about animals on here! It’s not the same as losing a human you ignorant ass, wake up!

      • Hey, Jim – It’s way more ignorant to respond with nastiness to someone who is grieving and feeling guilty. It seems to me this site was designed to help people deal with complex and painful emotions brought on by loss. You don’t get to determine whose grief is valid or what constitutes an important loss.

  34. Hello.
    I know that most of these posts are about losing loved ones. Mine is different. I am 15 years old. I have lived most of my life feeling useless and sorry because of personal issues. To help with that, I begged my parents for a puppy. I was about 12 years old when I wanted that puppy. I eventually “manipulated ” my mom into getting me that puppy. My dad was in jail and he said no. I got that puppy. I finally was happy. That summer. I left to NJ for 2 months leaving Max (my dog) with my mom. I didn’t train him and soon he became aggressive. My parents promised to give him a chance to put him in training. They lied. I had him for 2 years and we moved to an apartment. Max was around 70lb. He got loose and scratched a little boy. My parents made me give him to a shelter and they killed him.

    Everybody says it’s not my fault. That my parents should have never gotten a puppy. But I chose to leave for 2 months and not train him. I chose to get the puppy in the first place. I have this huge guilt that I killed my dog. I can finally talk about him without crying. But I can’t sleep and I can’t eat. And at the same time I sleep all day and I overeat. He is everywhere and I miss him. He helped me with anxiety and depression and I betrayed him. He did a lot for me and I repayed him by giving him to a shelter. How do I deal with this guilt? This feeling of grief? How do I make it go away?

    • I’m so sorry your dog died. Yes he is an animal but the bonds we humans create with them can be so intense and the loss we feel when they go is painful, just like when people do. I know others have told you not to feel guilty, but I have to reiterate it as well. This is really just a very unfortunate situation and none of it is your fault. You’re 15 years old and your parents should have offered better guidance on getting the dog trained. Honestly I don’t like the way they handled this situation at all, but you can’t go on blaming them or yourself either. And keep in mind sometimes even the most well behaved animals snap outside of anything anyone did or did not do.

      Also, don’t try and get rid of the bad grieving feelings, it will only make you feel worse. Acknowledge them and sit with the uncomfortableness for awhile and soon you’ll see that you’re ok and you’ll start to process things. It would be very helpful for you to talk to someone as well like a therapist, or Minister or an adult family friend maybe?

  35. My 28 year old son died 8 months ago from an overdose while in a sober living house. I feel tremendous guilt about the fact that i did not use my retirement ira to put him into a higher quality treatment program instead of relying on insurance which only covered 28 days of treatment and then this sub par sober living house that was unstructured and unsupervised. I did not think of my ira until after he died
    I realize not that there are much better places that he could have gone to if i had only done the research and paid for them out of pocket. This guilt consumes me more than the fact that he is gone. I had thought all sober living homes were the same, but now know they are not.

    • Dear Friend,
      This I know first hand. Please don’t have guilt. My loved one who passed had been in a treatment center. Had been clean and then used one last time, ending her life. She tried to take the vivitrol shot and couldn’t take it. Our family tried everything there was to save her from this terrible disease. I call it a disease because it alters your brain and they eat sleep and breathe it. She also tried everything she could do to beat it. We miss her greatly. I know your pain and I pray that you will be able to forgive yourself. Remember you did try to help the only way you knew how. It’s not about the money or that you should have tried something else. You did try. After death we have 20/20 vision . You now have many more answers or things that you could have tried, but it’s because you know the outcome. That’s unfair to you, because you would have done anything to save your son. Please pray to God that he will comfort you. Jesus is my savior and I know he will help you .
      There have been many people who go into treatment to use the very day they get out. I researched everywhere to find a cure and you know I found one 1 month after my child passed. The answer is simple sodium ascorbate crystals . Purchased at a health food store for about $15.00. It blocks the opiate receptors and the person can’t get high and they loose the desire to use. God I wish we had that time back that we both could have used this to help our loved ones. Maybe this post will help someone else.

  36. I lost my husband last year 2016. my whole world turned upside down. I feel guilty when i go out and have fun or social with friends .Especially when i get back home and i wake up feeling like i did something wrong…

  37. Hi –
    In your post, the word “overreacting” caught my eye. Actually, it’s more like the word gave me a hard kick in the butt. I feel SEVERE guilt, anguish, regret, sadness, etc., because when my sick, cancer-ridden husband wanted me to spend more time with him, I thought he was overreacting or feeling sorry for himself. I loved him, still do, and always will, but I’ve gotta say that even when his health was excellent, he could be possessive, controlling, childish, self-pitying, and defensive. So when he got very sick and wanted me to spend more time with him at the hospital, I thought he was just feeling sorry for himself. When he called from the hospital and said, “Please be here. I’m dying”, I thought he was overreacting. I feel like the biggest jackass that ever walked this earth. Recently I went for mammogram—I’m hoping that the results are very bad, that the hospital will tell me that I have cancer. This way, I’ll be able to join him. I don’t want to exist without him. He was so self-pitying for so many years—how the hell was I supposed to know that this time, the situation was for real? Anyway, dear, you are not alone. You are very much in my thoughts.

  38. Hello

    My English teacher passed away about 1 week ago. It such a shame that I never visited him and went to his funeral. Now it’s too late. I will never get to see him again. His grieve and guilty feeling still haunting me and it’s hard to for me to forgive myself for being such an ignorant.

    I met him about 20 years ago when I was a kid. He taught me and my siblings English. In order to make more money, he sold food near the church that he attended with his wife and his van.

    I always and still remember a particular food that he used to make for me… a potato pasta. He was like a father for me and his departure was too much for me…

    Maybe if only I got to see him even just for a while, I wouldn’t be haunted by this grieve and guilty feeling. The cause of his death was prostate cancer…

    My mom told me about this and she said that he was ready to face his end. I thought my mom was joking with me or maybe she was overreacting.

    On 27th December, I got a news from my mom that he already passed away. I was a bit shock, not really a big deal I told to myself… as the time goes on, those memories started to appear slowly… one by one… I couldn’t handle it anymore.. tears started to fall from my eyes… I didn’t enjoy my new year because I was still in agony.

    I started to blame myself… why I didn’t come to visit him? I had plenty of time and why I decided to ignore him? I was too busy with myself. I never thought it would happen. I thought he would recover and back to his daily life.

    I still remember the last time I saw him. He was walking on the bridge and I was driving. Wanted to call him but I was driving… so it’s very unlikely to say hello to him. Maybe I could have said hello to him. If that happened, that would be the last time he saw me and the last time I saw him smiled and hear his voice. I still remember the shirt that he was wearing.

    Now… it is too late for everything. Too bloody late. The moment when my mom informed me about his death, I thought he had been buried but during the new year, my mom told me that he was still there. Oh man… if only I decided to go there… it just like… miscommunication. My mom went to his funeral on 26th December and she informed me about his death on 27th December. Probably he was buried on 28th.

    Some people might think… “oh he was a teacher and he wouldn’t teach you if you didn’t pay him money”.
    Nothing wrong if people think like that… it’s not just knowledge and money… it’s MEMORIES. Something that money cannot buy. I still remember his face, his smile, songs that he used to sing when he was teaching us. Even he played magic trick on us.

    I willing to trade my tomorrow just for 1 hour or maybe 5 minutes to spend with him… I knew it wouldn’t happen and I cannot turn back the time.

    If only I got to spend at least 5 minutes with him… Maybe I wouldn’t be suffering like this. I am still holding my tears as I am writing this.


  39. My father passed away on 10th September. He had chronic bronchitis for quite sometime now. He was undergoing treatment for the same. He was feeling discomfort for the past 10 days. He used to get tired even after walking 10 steps. There was a complete misjudgement in our understanding of his problems. We continued his treatment with his bronchitis doctor. He passed away due to cardiac arrest in hospital. He was my father as well as my mother. He gave me double the love. My mother has schizophrenia. I am really feeling guilty that I failed him as a son. I should have consulted alternate doctor and should have taken a second opinion We had time we could have given him better treatment. I didnt do 1 percent of what he did for me. Now I really want to take good care of my mom. She is the only one left in my life. He was a really good human being and did everything for everyone but noone could do anything for him especially me. I feel guilty please help me

  40. I’m ( I was the caretaker, of my Dad ) still struggling and suffering from a lot of guilt of having to make the decision of taking my dear Dad of life support, and even agreeing to let them operate on him .. after the horrible events.

    He had been in the hospital for pneumonia, and it seemed like he was recovering quite well, the Doctors said and then suddenly, one morning I called the hospital to ask how he was doing, and the nurse said he didn’t look so good and they are giving him extra oxygen.. ( I was on my way to a furniture store with my Mom, to find a more proper table for my Dad ). I always visited him every morning and afternoon, usually. But just this morning I decided otherwise, stupidly. As I didn’t think that such horrible thing that followed would happen to him. Although, I thought twice about not going to store and rushing to him that morning as usual, but I didn’t.

    So, half way to the stupid store I got a call. It was the hospital and they told me my Dad got a bowel obstruction and rupture ( he chocked to death of his vomit ) and they resuscitated him and sucked all the fluid out of his lungs. I’ve never ever heard of such a thing could happen before. They told me he is in the intensive care section now. I broke into tears and made my way to the hospital. It was so horrific seeing him with tubes and all, not responding. That same night, they called us and suggested on cutting him open to maybe safe his life, as he suffered a ‘intestinal breakthrough’. I couldn’t think straight. Of course I wanted to safe his life and do all that could be done, but I also don’t wanted him to go through an operation in that fragile and critical stage now, and even make things worse. But then I decided they should go ahead. But afterwards there was no evidence found in the gut area. They told us it could have been ‘intestinal paralysis’.

    After only a few days the doctor told me he sees no hope cause of the lack of oxygen to his brain that happened, and that he is not really responding. Although, he is kinda breathing by his own, with little help from the tubes. And has twitches here and there, even when I gently brushed against his feet. It was devastating, and I didn’t know what to do, or not do. ( He as well had been dealing with beginning Dementia, among other health issue. ) So, the Doctor ( which I feel now, kinda talked/rushed me into taking him of life-support, said it would be the best/human thing to do. As well I think now, because my Dad was at an old age already.. they just don’t bother anymore, sadly. ) I was still in a state of shock and disbelief. I really thought that when we take him off life-support, that he might miraculously come fully back to life. I don’t know.. I didn’t knew nothing anymore… I mean, I didn’t wanted him to suffer.. and the doctor said it’s probably best to let it happen all “naturally”. As well, they didn’t even give him morphine or else … although, I was worried that he might be in pain. But the Doctors said, that one can see if someone is in pain. But how can you see if somehow is in pain, when he cannot respond/react and is paralyzed in a state of coma due to the events???

    Unfortunately, my Dad didn’t had any papers stating anything for or against life support. So, it was horrible seeing him either way.. after taking him from life-support, he kept breathing for 2 nights and then I wasn’t there the afternoon he stopped breathing. It’s all devastating and hard to believe, still.

    I’m feeling so much guilt and regret. Why did I listen to the doctors? Why didn’t I give him more time on life-support ( people stay on life-support for weeks/months )?
    Why didn’t I go to hospital on that morning and decided otherwise? What was he thinking? He must have felt scared and alone? He must have felt abandoned, not cared for? What were his last words, before all hell broke loose and he couldn’t speak or react anymore? It must have been so horrific for him vomiting and choking to death, then being resuscitated and in that state of coma and then still the operation.. ? Could he hear me, see me? And then just dying all by himself? Making the decision for him?

    I don’t think I ever get over all this. Especially thinking and feeling what he was going through!!! It breaks my heart and my soul.

    I’m so so sorry, for writing all this in detail. It’s a complicated story what all happened and I’m having a very complicated grief from all those horrific events, which occurred to my dear Dad.

    Thank you for anyone who reads through my long comment/story.

    And my heart goes out to all the loved ones we have lost. ♡

    Thank you.

    • “What was he thinking? He must have felt scared and alone. He must have felt abandoned, not cared for.” I know EXACTLY what you’re going through. I know your pain, your feelings of guilt, your regrets. My best friend (my husband) recently passed away from cancer. He was a highly sociable person. He always loved being surrounded by people. But there came a point when his condition got so bad, they had to make him unconscious. They gave him pain medication through tubes, and he was unconscious, and his breathing was very laborious. One day I was in the room with him, just sitting by his side, while he was supposedly “unconscious”, when a nurse came in, and I asked if he could feel or hear anything at all, and she casually said, “Oh yes, he can probably still hear, even if he can’t reply.” I remember thinking to myself, “WHAT??? That means he might be aware of his current state, without being able to express his pain or his emotions!!” How frightening for anybody, but especially for a person who was always gregarious and expressive. How much like being trapped in a jail, where you’re the only person in the jail, and nobody knows you’re there. To think that he might have been consciously aware of his condition without being able to express his feelings—how absolutely dreadful. He’d had such a zest for life, and now to be in that position…. But anyway, he has since been cremated, and now he is a peace. Please don’t be hard on yourself. You did nothing wrong. You did nothing to deserve feeling shame or guilt. The fact that you cared enough to seek and find sites like this, and post your feelings, just proves that you are a good person, and that your loved one mattered to you very much. Please be good to yourself; you deserve it. You are in my thoughts.

  41. Hi! My father died last month from complications of his lung cancer. He was admitted in the hospital due to sepsis and later found out that he had pneumonia. I am working as a nurse overseas and decided to go home because the doctor informed us that my father had only have 1 – 2 months to live. The doctor let us decide if we wanted intubation and CPR just in case he arrested. So I asked the doctor about the benefit of having him intubated knowing that he had 1-2 months more to live. My father had big lymph node wound on his neck that made him very hard to drink his pills. So I was thinking that if we had allowed intubation, would that cause him harm. So I decided to ask my father about intubation. He said no. He said that he already decided before not to have intubation. He knew that the prognosis is poor. He knew that if he was intubated, the outcome would be still the same. He said that we should just understand him. He said that he will just suffer if he was intubated. After what he said I cried and I asked him if he knew that in case he arrested without intubation, he will die. He answered back to me that he will eventually lead there. He was so calm. He did not cry which surprised me. So I signed the form No intubation and No CPR. What is the point of CPR if there is no intubation. Then he deteriorated the following days, from simple oxygen inhalation via nasal prong, he needed to use a CPAP. Then he reach the point where he could still have difficulty of breathing in spite of having a CPAP. On his last day, we were asked to move to another room because my father’s doctor would want him on telemetry. My father had a good sleep after having an attack of difficulty of breathing the previous day. When we were on our new room, he suddenly complained of difficulty of breathing. I can see him deteriorating as he as on a pulse oximeter. I called the doctor to assess him. They gave him diuretics with no relief. Then the on call doctor asked me if we were really decided not to have him intubated because on that very moment, intubation is the best option. I said no. I remembered what my father said about the intubation. Then my father was given sedative as what his palliative doctor charted in case he arrested to make him comfortable and not feel the hardship of breathing difficulty. Then his palliative and pain doctor arrived early morning and said that if she was the daughter of my father, she would have decided the same. That brought me comfort as it was really hard to decide that time and I was really confused. Then the doctor told me if I agree to give my father a pain medication called oxycodone without blood pressure precaution. She said that eventually, blood pressure will drop. So I thought that my father needed pain medication as he was experiencing pain in his hip and arm due to metastasis. I agreed as I wanted him comfortable as much as possible. Later that day, we positioned him on his bed and we accidentally moved his painful leg and that made his eyes opened a bit. I called him which he responded by opening his eyes further but he was still sedated from the first dose of sedative they gave. Then the nurse gave him an IV dose of oxycodone. I knew his blood pressure was low. But I just thought that since we moved his painful leg earlier, that pain medication would help him not to feel pain. After 20 minutes, my father’s vital signs deteriorated then he died. It was a shock. One of my relative asked if he needed a CPR. I said no. Looking at the fragile chest of my father, I know that performing CPR will only break his chest and would him harm. I said to them this is it. Then we all cried.

    A month after my father died, I have so many guilt feelings. This are my guilt feelings:

    1. If I did not ask my father about the intubation and I decided myself that he is for intubation, maybe he is still alive right now in ICU or a single room. Intubated but alive.

    2. I should have not agreed to give him pain medication without blood pressure pressure precaution, maybe he is still alive right now. I am not sure if that’s the cause his death.

    3. I should have not agreed to move him to other room. He was stable before the move. But I know that he would still experience another attack. But who knows?

    4. I did not spend time with him as I was working overseas. If I knew that he will die soon, I could have requested leave to spend it to him.

    5. When my father was deteriorating, I said thank you very much to him for all he sacrificed to us to make our live comfortable. But I regretted that I did not say how much I love him.

    6. I felt that I just gave up easily. When the doctor said that he would not live more than two months, I just agreed and just gave up that is why I decided to follow his wish not for intubation.

    7. He was the one who made way for me to be able to work and live with my family overseas to have a better life, but he did not really experienced the fruit of his labor.

    8. If we go out and have some fun with my family, I feel that I am not deserving of it. I feel that we are so happy but my father died suffering and disappointed.

    9. I feel that I am not a good nurse. Many of my patients commended me for giving them the best care but I felt that my decision on my father’s intubation was unacceptable.

    10. I give my best to give quality care to my patients overseas but when my father was sick with his cancer, I was not there. I really regretted it. I wish I could turn back time.

    Please send me your feedback. I want to read them. I want an honest feedback. Thank you very much for reading!


    • Pat-
      Your post is very poignant. I can tell that you are suffering greatly over this. I can only offer my opinion, but I believe that you are being too hard on yourself. With regards to the intubation of your father, he requested that he not be intubated. He believed that intubation would only buy him more time to suffer and he did not want that. You regret that you gave up too easily on him by allowing him to not be intubated, however suppose he had been intubated and then suffered for longer, you would have regretted that too. Unfortunately, we allow ourselves to believe that there is a right answer and a wrong answer in every situation and life is seldom that way.
      With regards to your work overseas, your father was most likely very proud of you and your work. You said he made it possible for you to do this work but that he did not get to experience the fruit of his labor. I believe that he did, through you. Your father made a great sacrifice for you out of his love for you. He did not do it for himself. Thus, he benefited greatly. He was happy for you.
      You wanted honest feedback, and I am giving you mine. Truly, I believe that you had done everything that you could and I hope that you can come to terms with this. Please be kind to yourself.

  42. So happy to have found this site and section! Why isn’t there more information out there for people in this situation? I lost my Dad around 8 years ago in a way that left me feeling incredibly guilty and it almost destroyed me. Nobody seemed to be able to talk about the guilt, even therapists I went to.

    In my story, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, having been a lifelong heavy smoker and drinker. Despite being very angry at first, I was over the moon when he quite smoking as part of his treatment, and finally began to feel I was getting my Dad back, he was going to start acting sensibly.

    He came out of hospital after his first chemotherapy session and after about 3 days I went to see him one evening, really happy I could go and sit with him, and he seemed uncomfortable and out of sorts. I see myself as somebody who is exceptionally careful with health matters, most people would say I worry too much, but on this evening I wasn’t worried. Looking back it was so obvious he wasn’t OK and needed proper medical attention. My Mum was more concerned than me but not enough to insist my Dad went to hospital. I was happy to sit with him, get him a drink, get him some water for the night, tell him he was doing well. I was so happy to help him back from the bathroom when he felt weak, so I could put my arm round him. Went up to bed that night thinking I’d really helped him and been a good son.

    Then my Mum woke me early in the morning to say he was going back to hospital as he felt worse. I said good luck and wasn’t worried. Then got another call that he’d been taken to intensive care, and a few hours later another to say that he’d died of septic shock and kidney failure.

    The way this happened is unusual and I won’t go into the details. It’s just so tough to lose somebody the moment you finally felt you were getting closer to them. I think I let my guard down that one time as I felt we were finally getting closer and after smoking all his life he’d quit and he’d be OK.

    I have had genuinely happy times since then, but sometimes it comes back when I feel really depressed. It’s helpful to read others’ experiences. I feel for all you guys and hope you can move on!

  43. My husband recently passed away after a year-long fight with pancreatic cancer. The last month he was in hospice care at home pretty cognizant for about 20 days of that. The last seven days were the hardest because he would no longer respond to most stimuli. Up until his last day though he would respond slightly whenever I gave him a kiss on the side of the mouth. Even though I was holding his hand at the moment he passed I’m feeling extremely guilty now about not holding him in my arms 24/7 during that last week since I knew he could feel me in some way. I was in the room 99% of the time, and talking to him but not always touching him. I know it’s irrational at some level but I’m having a hard time coping. Also feel I should have found some way to keep him in his own bed instead of the twin hospital bed in the living room. I couldn’t sleep with him there. Too many should have would have could have.

    • Hi, Candy. From your post it sounds like you were an extremely caring and compassionate wife and did everything you humanly could do to make your loved one feel comfortable and loved while he was passing away. My father passed away in January, and I constantly reflect about all of the things I didn’t do and all of the time I wish I would’ve spent with him and I didn’t. I am starting to feel like it’s irrational and unhelpful to focus on this. It is comforting when people point out all that I did to help my dad, and all the time I did spend with him. While I understand our situations are different, I can’t help but relate to a sense of guilt that you must be feeling about not being perfect. The truth is that no one is, and when I think of what a great dad my father was, and how wonderful your husband must’ve been, I am thinking that we wish we could’ve been perfect for them because that’s what they deserved. I hope my words bring you a little comfort. God bless!

  44. I talked to my friend as soon as I caught her online, and she helped a ton. Later that day I spoke to my mom, but the thoughts I’d been having I just called ‘Dark Thoughts,’ And I don’t know if she caught on completely. She helped to, since I knew after that my sister wasn’t mad and was scared that she upset me. Im better now, but it’s usual for me to feel overly guilty for things, though this was much much worse then ever before, I’m better.

    • Ah, I am so glad to hear back from you and that you are doing better!! I hope you never have to go through anything even remotely like that experience or those feelings again, but if you do please always try to connect with others. It is amazing what a difference it can make just to get some support and perspective from someone else. Also, I don’t know if you have heard of it, but there is a really great site and community called “To Write Love On Her Arms” that deals with many of the crazy and complicated feelings that can come up around self-harm, suicide, etc that you might like. Take care and, again, I am so glad to know you are feeling better!

    • So glad you are feeling better, Chloe, and talked with someone about your feelings. Can’t say how glad. Please always remember to do that!

  45. I am so glad I came across this site. My dad died a little over a month ago from some sort of dementia related illness and the guilt I have over it is slowly eating away at me every day. I say “dementia related” because we still don’t know for sure what he had and his doctors I think were grasping at straws saying Altzheimer’s mixed with some form of Parkinson’s, maybe. I am convinced though his brain problems had more to do with a head injury he had a few years ago which could have brought a condition called hydrocephalous which, as it progresses, mimics severe dementia in almost every way. At the time of the injury none of us had ever heard of hydrocephalous and because he seemed to be healing we did not press for any follow up x rays and MRI’s. Long story short if this was his condition there were things we could have and should have done that may prevented his spiral in to insanity. My siblings and I convinced my mom to put him in a memory care unit which really escalated things with my dad, made him angry and scared and rapidly worsened his condition to where he was dead two months later.

    At the time he died I welcomed it due to his misery and me knowing he would not at all have wanted to live life this way. Of course I feel guilty over this too. I am functioning and slowly moving forward but I can’t seem to process this.

    Thanks for listening.

  46. Oh Chloe. …my heart hurts for you. Please please please talk to your parents about what happened and how upset you are. Thank god all are safe, and you learned a frightening lesson. But DO NOT KEEP THESE FEELINGS TO YOURSELF! Yes, they are scary feelings and I understand them as well….but they can be like the monster under the bed. .without light they become bigger than life, but shine a flashlight or daylight and they retreat to something that can be dealt with.

  47. Im 10 years old, about to turn 11 this July, and just a day ago I went swimming with my cousin, my niece, and my sister and almost killed my 1 year old niece. My sister had already said it would be better for her to just swim at the pool at out house in our backyard we had put up that day, but when my niece came to me when i held out my arms, I figured she wanted to get in, but of course she didn’t agree. I was in the deep end, (6 ft, i’m 5’2.) And I wanted to just hold her in it for a minute to see if she’d like it. I don’t know what I was thinking but I picked her up and lowered her to the water with me, but since I was on the edge where it was higher, and I was on the edge of the slope, And pounds weighed onto me, I lost my balance and slipped, using all of my strength to try and swim upward and grasp onto her tightly. I sank, and with my eyes wide open saw my niece go underwater with me, I heard my sister scream “You’ve got to be kidding me!” And run over to get her out of the water. I soon came up and heard her yell at me, “Not in the deep end!” And walk away yelling to my older cousin who showed up while we were there that “And this is why I can’t ever take her on vacation!” My niece cried for a little but cheered up and was as good and well as before the incident, meanwhile for nearly the rest of the time there I held back tears and stared at the wall of the pool, tons of suicide thoughts coming to my mind, but the knowledge i’d never do them staying. My cousin eventually got me cheered up and I played around with my niece a little longer once I got out of water. I was happy again, but the thought and the deep amount of guilt could never leave. The thoughts of wanting to die and that I deserved any pain and didn’t deserve any gifts for my birthday or even a birthday at all, and that I didn’t deserve any of the things I asked my mother for. (Like a phone, and for a subscription to a Loot Box.) When I awoke the next day, the feelings hit me hard, and I almost felt as if I had no emotions. I took multiple tests to see if it was Trauma, but none gave me an answer, only that I needed to put information for an answer, which I put a name and made a new email for it, but no response yet. Even if it was I don’t know what I’d do. I’m scared to tell my mom or dad because I’m scared of any trouble. As i’m writing this, I’m shaking and sobbing because of how around maybe 20 minutes ago the thought came to mind again, and I was home alone, so I started crying, and yes there has been more of those suicidal thoughts and everyones reaction to if I did them, since I got a pool yesterday, but of course I’ve named off myself all the reasons I could never do it, which were things like how my friends would react or feel, how my family would feel, how my niece would probably never know me as she grows up, and that I’d be to much of a wimp to do it. I know my sister isn’t to mad because while staring at the pool wall, my cousin thats about my age was talking with her, and she said she just wanted me to know not in the deep end and something else I can’t remember. My cousin(my age) then came and got me saying my sister wanted me. I swam over after going underwater so if any tears escaped they’d look like water, and she said to swim while I could, but I couldn’t because the water had turned freezing and I didn’t feel like moving. I know this is in everyway my fault and I can’t get over it. The info above hasn’t helped either, I tried to talk to my friend about it on skype but she won’t reply or get on skype. I do get happy and (of course) sad every once in awhile, but I also have those dead inside moments as well.

    • Chloe, it is really important that you talk to your parents right away and, if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, call a suicide hotline or 911 right away. The suicide hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. I know talking to your parents may be scary for fear of trouble, but asking for help is not something you will be in trouble for. Please know that this site, and others like ours, don’t have someone here 24/7 to reply to comments. To get the support you need it is important that you talk to your parents, a suicide hotline, 911, or another adult your trust “in real life”. Please know you are not alone and many people clearly love and care about you and will want to help you.

  48. Last year when I was 17 I took care of my grandmother who was terminal with cancer. The cancer was all through her body by that point and nobody else in my family could/would take care of her so the job fell to me. I’m happy I had this time with her her last summer but now a year later I feel so guilty. I’m training to be a nurse and I had a little bit of experience at that point. She didn’t want full time hospice care so I was giving her medications and medically caring for her as well as doing the cleaning and cooking and sometimes grocery shopping. Towards early July she stopped eating some things like certain meats and my aunt and uncle blamed my cooking as the cause of her no longer wanting to eat. My grandmother told me that I cooked well though… I don’t know what to believe… and then my aunt also had issues about when I was giving my grandmother medication when I was just following the hospice agency’s orders. I feel so guilty and like I could have done more or even that if I wasn’t taking care of her she would have lasted a little longer. I don’t know what to think. Up to her last two weeks of life I was practically her sole caregiver. Family would come in once in a while to help and my grandfather was in failing health too at the time. I just haven’t been able to deal with this guilt and it is eating me up. It has gothen to the point that I have been refusing dates with my long distance boyfriend whom I almost never see because he could be spending time with his own grandmother who is in fair health. I don’t know what to do and I don’t know if this feeling is normal at all… I just feel sick thinking about last summer and I feel like I have failed her…

    • Emily,

      Obviously we don’t have an intimate knowledge of you, your grandmother, and your aunt or uncle or the circumstances of last summer. However I will say, based on your comment, that sometimes people (like your aunt and uncle) make themselves feel better for their own weaknesses by blaming, pointing fingers, and preying on the good nature of others. It seems entirely likely to me that they felt guilty about their own lack of involvement and instead of owning up to it, they came in and bossed you around so they could feel like they were doing something. Because you were in a vulnerable position and much younger than them and because you truly did take your job very seriously, you took their comments to heart. You did the best anyone could do with a very extraordinary situation. Frankly, I am angry on your behalf that they treated you this way when they should have been grateful that you made their lives easier.

      Now, I know that none of this takes away your guilt. Guilt is a normal response in grief and sometimes it’s funny in that it’s really resistant to logic. I would say that if you continue to find your guilt, thoughts, and memories getting in the way of your day-to-day life then perhaps you may walk to talk to a counselor about it, mostly because they ought to provide an objective ear and help you figure out a way to work through it.


  49. Care for Your ParentsJune 3, 2016 at 10:26 pmReply

    My father needed me to care for him near the end of his life. What I told him was that he needed to care for himself. What I meant actually was that he needed to eat healthfully because he had a heart condition. But he wouldn’t do so, just ate a lot of junk and told me not to lecture him. I should have taken him into my home and cared for him. I remember how he looked at me near the end. In retrospect, he was depressed and needed someone to care. I was so stupid and self-involved. I’ll never forgive myself for what I said and didn’t do. That’s what I have to live with. I didn’t realize what he knew, that he was dying. If I had cared for him and he felt loved, I would be able to more easily accept his death. But I didn’t. My guilt is rational and haunts me every day. I’ll carry those regrets to my own grave.

    • Hi I feel the same way about my Mom. I should have tried to make her more happy, taken her in with us instead of agreeing with her she needed her independance cause this suited me better. Why was I so selfish! If I had been kinder maybe she would have been happier and wanted to live longer. After a stroke in hospital she just went to sleep and never woke up. Did she decided that I was so horrible that she would rather just die then be around me? Everyone says “you did so much and should not feel guilty” I dont agree. They say try remember the good times I cant think of anytime when I was good. I failed as a daughter and now I am failing as mother / wife. Everyone would be better without me!

  50. I’ve been wracked with guilt since my partner’s death, and I keep trying to talk about it, and people always brush it off and tell me I shouldn’t feel guilty. Thank you so much for this post. It really spoke to me. All I needed was validation…I recognize (sometimes) that my guilt is irrational, but it still haunts me. I look back and see the signs that may have signaled cardiac arrest. I see the symptoms she displayed, now that I’ve done the research and read everything I could find about sudden cardiac arrest, and I judge myself with the information I have NOW about the things I coulda done THEN. Connecting my guilt to the idea of control is immensely helpful. Thank you!

  51. Guilt is a huge problem for me regarding my wife’s death last month on April 10th. Her doctor had put her on a new drug for her seizures which was not working. She also was having trouble sleeping so the doctor had her go to a sleep clinic for an overnight study. I was supposed to get there at 5:30am the next day to pick her up. After I dropped her off at the clinic I went to see a friend’s house I had never seen before and we had a couple of beers there. When I got home and went to bed I decided to get at least four hours sleep so I didn’t get up until 4:15am and then I got to the clinic at 5:45am. Since my wife’s seizure medication was not working I had been monitoring her when she showered. When I got there they led me to her bedroom but she was not there. They said she was in the bathroom. It was so early in the morning and I may have been a little bit hung over so I didn’t think to go to the bathroom at that point to check on her. After about 10 minutes I realized she had been in the bathroom too long. I went to find a technician and I asked if my wife was being monitored. I was told they don’t to that due to privacy. I asked for her to be checked on and was told I could do it. I went to the bathroom and knocked and got no answer and there was no noise from inside. So I opened the door and saw my wife’s naked dead body on the bathroom floor. She had had a seizure. If I was not late by 15 minutes and did not wait for 10 more in her room, I could of been there to save her life. I do not know I am going to live with this guilt. It was bad enough I didn’t push her enough to change her non working drug, but I chose to go to my friend’s house the night before and then chose be a little late to pick her up the next day. It may have cost my wife her life. She choked on her tongue and if I was there I would of known what to do to save her.

    • Oh Mark, I am so incredibly sorry for your wife’s death and for the incredible pain you feel. There is no easy answer to guilt – self forgiveness is long and sometimes complicated process. If you haven’t already, I would suggest you consider talking to a counselor who may be able to help you through this process. If you haven’t already, I would suggest you read our post on guilt vs regret. There is a nuanced but extremely important difference between the two that can be helpful in really teasing out what you are going feeling:

      You may also want to check out this post on self-forgiveness:

      I hope you find some support on our site.

      • Ah, Marc!!! So sorry for the misspelling!

        • Thank You Litsa. I was seeing a therapist but didn’t like him and now I have started seeing a new one but I don’t like her either. Neither one seems trained in grief counseling. Neither one wanted to talk about my guilt, they both just said something like you cannot turn back the clock. I am now in search of a third therapist. I want one trained in grief counseling.
          This has been so hard, nothing I have ever felt as been like it.
          Thank you so much for the website, it has been extremely helpful to me. Please keep up the good work and thank you for the nice comments.
          I will check out the links you suggested.

  52. I feel guilty about my husband’s death. He was adopted as an infant. I keep thinking I should pushed more for him to get his adoption records from his adoptive parents so he could have found out if heart disease was genetic. He had high blood pressure and already had one heart attack before he met and married me, I believe. What if I had pushed more for him to take better care of himself. Ron died of a massive heart attack on January 1, 2016 at home. What if I could have done more to get him help.

    • Hi, Dianne. My father died of a heart attack the same day your husband died. I’m so very sorry for your loss. And mine. I find in dealing with my guilt over missing signs that he had heart issues (he also had cancer and was undergoing chemo), that while I’m coming to terms with it the best way I can there is no way to know if I could’ve done anything to save him. My dad was incredibly bright and stubborn. I couldn’t make him do anything he didn’t want to do. I am wondering if you too wonder if you could’ve made your husband do something like research his birth history more when in reality he was his own person who couldn’t be controlled by someone any way. And in reality that may have not changed things anyway. When I told my brother how guilty I was feeling, although he’s not as sensitive as me, he did make me feel better by saying that “when it’s someone’s time it’s their time.” Basically, although my brother is not a spiritual person, I think he was saying that God (or fate) is the one in control not us. I hope that you, me, and others out there who feel we could’ve done something to “save” our loved ones realize we all did the best we could at the time and there are certain things we can’t control.

      • Kerry,
        Like some of the other heart disease comments on here, Ron was having indigestion issues for a few months before his death. He worked too many hours at his job, also. I started a month after his death going to group. I learned as you said that God had a definite day in mind for Ron but still sometimes i wonder if I could have given Ron a few more years if I had just pushed for him to investigate genetics alittle more. We had so little time and I miss him so much.

        • Dianne,
          I understand where you are coming from. My dad also had what he called “gas” but now we realize it was his heart. I’m so regretful that I also thought it was gas at it seemed to pass with no consequence. I’m certain my dad would not want me to think I’m at fault for his death. Although I know that logically, I have such despair in my heart because I miss him so much. I’m so sorry for your loss and the guilt that you also feel. I’m hoping that this guilt that we all feel will pass so that we can focus on being better to ourselves

  53. I’m very grateful to have found this site. After a 20 year struggle, four weeks ago, I lost my brother to a fatal heroin overdose.
    Through the years, I tried everything to help him, including getting him jobs, letting him live with me, clothing, food, taking him to 12 steps meetings (we did a 90 in 90), moral support, and friendship. Most of the rest of my family would have nothing to do with him. Through all of this, I struggled and dealt with my own addiction issues, depression, guilt, and codependency.
    Several months ago, after he lost our family home which he had inherited, he’d been living in a homeless shelter, and managing to stay clean. I saw him often in order to help him out when he needed it. I was always careful not to give him money, worried that he only buy drugs. He looked great- he’d even gained 30 lbs.
    Then, after finally getting him into a 90 day program, he was kicked out within a week for stealing. Shortly thereafter, he made it into another 28 day program. One Wednesday, two days before he was scheduled to be released, he unexpectedly appeared at my door , claiming to be out on a “day pass”. I took him to lunch to discuss his plans after rehab. He said the treatment center had lined him up with a job and a place to live, starting that Friday.
    The next day, he turned up again saying that he had been released early. I was very uneasy, annoyed, and frustrated, since I had just lost my job, and on top of his problems, I now had my own to deal with. Since he was estranged from the rest of our family, he was using me as his only support system.
    Very unsure what to do, I asked him what he needed. He said that he would be fine going back to the homeless shelter for a few days, but just needed a little cash to get by on, which I honestly thought would not be harmful, since he had been clean for several months, and I desperately wanted to believe he would stay that way.
    Once I sent him on his way, I felt horribly guilty and worried about giving him cash, but still thought I was doing the right thing. I received an email from him on Saturday, saying he was doing fine, but, unable to let go of the guilt, I responded by asking him to come back on Sunday to stay with me until his job and living arrangements were settled.
    I didn’t hear back from him, which was not unusual, since he didn’t have a phone, and would message me from the public library near where he was staying.
    Unfortunately, I would never hear from him again, since he overdosed the very Monday he was supposed to start a new life.
    I am now racked with guilt over giving him money, and not making him stay with me so that I could keep him safe.
    I’m overwhelmed and feel like I will never get over this; although, I know that I did truly love my brother profoundly, and tried to help him the best way I knew how, as imperfect as that may have been.
    Yes, I am haunted thoughts that I should have done some things differently, but I also know that I did the best I could at the time, and that hindsight is 20/20.

    • Oh Brad, I am so sorry. I know the pain of addiction on a family can be absolutely overwhelming and I am so sorry your brother lost his battle with the disease. Have you ever attended Nar-anon? If not, a Nar-anon group or GRASP (grief recovery after substance passing) group may be a good place to connect with others struggle with some of these same challenging emotions. It sounds like you did a tremendous amount for your brother, though I know that may feel like little consolation now. Please know that you are not at all alone and, as hard as it is, try to keep in mind that we sadly ultimately can do our best for others, but only having control over ourselves. I hope you continue to find our website of support.

      • Litsa, thank you for your invaluable response and kind words of consolation, which I found to be a tremendous comfort. In some strange way, objective feedback from individuals whom with I don’t have a personal history is most helpful at this time. I suppose that’s because, though they are absolutely well meaning and I’m appreciative, I’m incredulous of friends and relatives who I feel are simply telling me what I want to hear in an effort to make me feel better (just my perception, not necessarily reality).
        I will check out both the Nar-anon group and GRASP groups, and continue to find comfort in your excellent website and podcast.

  54. Six months ago I lost my mum to cjd,she was my best friend and it was so sudden. Our family has always been so close and we were all hurting bad. All dad kept talking about was wanting to be with her,every day he would say he was lonely without her and was going to kill himself. It was hard to listen to after just losing mum and he refused any sort of help. I still visited him most days but he was distant and depressed. Last Saturday he was found hanging from a tree and I feel I could have done so much more. This guilt is eating away at me. I wonder what he was thinking at that moment in time, did he feel alone and that no one cared. I have lost both my parents now and I feel alone…just like he must have.

    • I felt compelled to respond to your post. This may seem odd coming from a stranger but know you are not alone. I think the people who have found this site have done so in search of some healing and connection (thats what brings me here). Maybe its because reading some blogs and listening to some pod casts has made me a tad emotional but I getting a heavy feeling in my heart whenever I hear (or read) someone who is dealing with so much sadness. And it may not mean much from me, but though you may feel alone, there are people here for you.

  55. I understand the guilt you feel, Carol, but please think about how much your brother loved you and would want you to have a happy life. It sounds like your brother gave you a reasonable answer and there would’ve been no reason to take him to the ER (he thought it was his collarbone, why wouldn’t you?) My father died on January 1st, and I too have this tremendous guilt that I could’ve done something more and that I also missed signs that he was having heart problems. He was diagnosed with an incurable but treatable cancer of the bone marrow (Multiple myeloma) a little over a year ago. He was in the hospital twice due to pneumonia, which is common with this disease because it affects the immune symptom. For several months he was out of the hospital and every time he went to the oncologist during the last months of his life, he would always say that the doctor said that his “numbers looked good.” Yet, he was so weak and frail at times. We attributed that to the cancer and chemo. During the last month of his life, he had bad gas attacks. I remember asking him a few days before he died, “Dad, are you sure it’s just gas?” He said that it was because when he took gas medicine he would feel better. He probably was having heart symptoms. There were other signs of heart disease, but my dad always attributed it to the cancer and chemo. So did I, or I just didn’t think these signs were serious. He died New Year’s Eve after he went to bed because of the “gas” pain. My dad was an amazing father. Yet, I feel like I failed him. He needed me to make sure he got the right medical care and I failed him. That’s the guilt I carry around daily. He fought so hard against the cancer, and in the end died of a heart attack. My family had plans for the future. My dad wanted us all to go on a cruise when he was feeling a little better. Sadly, we will never go on that cruise and my children will miss their amazing grandfather. Why didn’t I see the signs that my dad was dying? Or did I just ignore them because I wanted so badly for everything to be ok?

  56. My brother died about a month ago of a heart attack. He was only 48. My Mum died just 3 months beforehand and I was clearing away some things from her house with my brother the week before he died. He told me he had been having a pain in his arm and it worried me – I said ‘Its not your heart is it?’. He said ‘No, its my collarbone (he broke his collarbone whilst horse riding years ago). He said he had pain there for years so that made me feel better; I thought it could not be serious. A week later he died of heart disease so I think the pains he felt were associated with his heart. I feel so guilty that I did not insist on taking him to hospital at the time. If I had he may still be here. I have felt like committing suicide since his death. I feel responsible. I was so close to him and I loved him so much but I let him down when he most really needed me. I don’t feel that I can ever live happily again. I don’t want to talk to anyone or go out and I don’t like myself anymore. I wish I had died instead of my brother – I feel I have died inside. I don’t feel that I will ever be able to laugh again or to enjoys holidays. Both my parents have passed on now but I keep thinking how disappointed they will be in me if they are up in heaven with my brother.

    • Carol, if you are considering hurting yourself please seek help right away! You can walk into any emergency room or call 911 (if you are in the US). You can also call the suicide hotline in the US at 18002738255 or in the UK at 44 (0) 8457 90 90 90. If you are elsewhere just google suicide hotline and your country name.

      I am so sorry for all the loss you have experienced. Many on this site have been exactly where you are, feeling there is no hope. This is especially true so shortly after a death. Somehow though, people manage to move forward- one day at a time. Have you connected with a grief counselor or support group?

    • Hi Carol. My dad passed away in April. Last time I talked to him on the phone he also complained of chest pains and of feeling tired. Years ago he broke his ribs so he (and I) attributed the pain to it. As for the tiredness, he used to be frequently tired (for other reasons), but this time he said he felt “really tired”. He told me he had seen a doctor and all was apparently ok, but I sensed something wasn’t right with him. Thought about calling him again, then: “nah, he’s fine”. He died the day after of a heart attack. Now that some months have passed, what makes me feel worse is not what I failed to see, but thinking about how our relationship could have been better in so many ways. We all make mistakes and overlook things sometimes, but you loved your brother deeply and did all you did from a place of love. I wish I could say the same.

  57. My husband passed away 8 months ago after being diagnosed at six weeks. I was not there during his passing. He was 53. I had many problems during our marriage and there was no closure or words spoken to one another before his passing. The guilt I experience on a daily basis consumes me. I don’t know how to begin to start moving through it.

  58. My mother passed away a little over a month ago. She had been in and out of the hospital about 10 times in the last year. she had heart and lung issues as a result of smoking for 46 years. she had quit 5 years ago and I am so proud of her for that but the damage had been done. Last May, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have a mastectomy, chemo and radiation. My husband and I were also building our house and moved in in the middle of all of this with our 12 and 13 yr old children. I had a conversation with my mom a month before she passed, that I had to take care of myself and she had to take care of herself. I still visited her and would bring over groceries, soups, etc about once a week. We chatted on the phone and texted daily. The day after my last day of radiation, my mom called and said she had a stomach virus. I brought her some gingerale and broth, etc. She didn’t want me to come in the house because she didn’t want me to get sick. The next day she was in the ER. They released her and said it was a virus and it would last a few days. The day after that, I called her and she sounded very weak. I asked if she wanted me to come up and she said “no, that’s ok”. I called her back that night and thought she sounded better. The next day was my daughter’s birthday party and it was crazy at my house. I called her after the party and she had passed away home alone. Most likely cardiac arrest from being so weakened by the virus. I feel like I should have gone to see her or called earlier. I am so sorry that she was alone. I am not sure why I was not on higher alert and realized how life threatening the situation was. I also feel like I was a little distant over the last month. I think just worn out……

  59. My dad died unexpectedly a week ago. I had been ignoring his calls for three weeks. He was depressed and it was so hard for me to talk to him. I often got irritated, sad or pissed. I always answered every 3-4 weeks..but now I didn’t hacevthe chance too.. me and my be was gonna go visit him and mom this week, but he died before that.

    Many years ago we had an ok bond..then I moved about 500km away and I tried to live my life in my way. He often complained or got mad at me for not doing something he wanted me to do.. Last time I saw him in October 2015 I got really anxious around him. The last months before he died I think he was in a better mood but I still didnt take all of the calls. I had alot to do in my own life and it took energy from me to least I answered my mom’s text messages so he knew how I was doing.

    This feelings of regret and guilt is driving me crazy. I didn’t want it to end this way..I was gonna go see him..I didn’t answer his last calls because I was doing my own stupid stuff..surfing the internet and had dance lessons…my boyfriend told me today that he had been thinking how much better I was doing when I didn’t answer my dads calls…I have hade many panic attacks and anxiety the last couple of years..but now I was doing better. I just hope my guilt isn’t gonna eat me up..

    • I have a similar story. I love my mom very much but she was often depressed and it was draining to talk to her when she was having a hard time. I ignored her calls for two weeks before she died of a stoke yesterday. I think she was calling to tell me she was excited about her new place. I’ve never felt such strong regret/ guilt in my life. I hope it will fade with time. I hope you are doing better as well.

  60. I have a lot of guilt over my brother’s suicide (ding ding we have a winner for deaths associated with guilt!). It has been about 6 months and I often find myself thinking about a specific time where he opened up to me about a death he was grieving but I was annoyed because he had been drinking (he was an alcoholic) and I had friends over and I was so tired of having to deal with him. I was 16 when that incident happened, I’m 19 now and I know I should have been there for him and not worried about what my friends were thinking while my brother was hurting so badly. I also feel guilt because during the summer before it happened I was out with my friends a lot of the time. He was my big brother and he needed me and I wasn’t there for him. He was only 25. We have two other siblings one older and one younger than him but it was always me and him. We had a special bond and I really feel like I let him down.

  61. My father died suddenly this spring. 2 weeks before we spoke on the phone but it ended not on a very pleasant note. The night before he died I was going to call him but decided I didn’t want to bother him and I would call him the next day to apologize. I feel horribly guilty about the original conversation and then the subsequent not calling in time. now not having him around at Christmas time has me feeling depressed and guilty. It is starting to wear on me and my temper is short with my wife and kids, I am getting so depressed and it is hard to kick it. Reading this helped some as well as reading that it is normal and other people have feelings of guilt like this.

  62. My mom died Jan-31-2014 from colon cancer. I have experienced much guilt since her death. The two that resurface the most are telling her it was okay to ‘go’ and that we would be okay without her, we were told by hospice that verbalizing this to our mom while she was “actively dying” would help her let go. I wish I now that I NEVER said this to my mom. Which leads to the my second biggest guilt : not telling her that I was dying inside, that my heart was being ripped out and that I was NOT okay on any level. If I could go back and change one thing it would be this. Screw being strong ” for your loved one” .
    Got Guilt ? Yes we do……..

    • I feel that way too.. I was trying to be strong for him to let him know it was ok to go.. He asked me a month prior to please let him go and I couldn’t .. I knew I would die inside when he did.. So when he took a turn for the worst.. I told him we’d be ok, the kids would be ok… But I’m not and I knew I wouldn’t be…

      • Family does says time will help heal and I gotta believe that.. But I know how you feel..

        • My family also tells me it is not my fault. My husband died March of 2016 after a battle with lung cancer, I know he would not want be to fell quilt but I do, I suffered a heart attack exactly 3 months prior to his death, I hurt without him, he was my best friend and companion, I need him, I have my children but they don’t understand how much I miss their father, we had our anniversary 2 months after his passing and I still have trouble coping with his passing and I don’t know how to explain it to the kids even they are grown. I feel as if a part of me is missing and I can’t fill in the hole. They tell me to get a hobby but it is hard to deal with some everyday things when you go the store and when you get home you expect to have your other half there and they aren’t. I is the same when I go to bed at night, you expect them to be there beside you then you know they aren’t and you can’t sleep or if you do go to sleep you don’t rest. I have tried to explain this to my children but until they lose their spouse (which I hope they don’t any time soon) they can not understand how I feel. What is it I cannot understand is how some people can remarry so quickly after being married for so long and then losing their partner. I does not make sense to me.
          I am hoping with writing this it will help me understand my grief a bit more. Anyway that is what I am hoping for.

    • Jillian
      I completely understand! !! I was told by hospice. .drs.. sisters. . Everyone that I was the reason she couldn’t let go! I feel that i look back and an angry that i want my usual persistent determined daughter for her before her diagnosis. .mistly..but especially when there seemed no hope to everyone else. I insisted that i was not giving up and told her so. .. then the turn…. i never said we would be ok without her but i didn’t show my emotions to het on the way that i was intensely feeling them inside…i was so afraid to make het any sadder than she was. .. but i regret terribly NOT holding tougher and letting her feel that.

  63. Two years later, guilt is still a big problem for me. It is irrational in large part, but I am somewhat stuck. The same thoughts go through my head, all coulda, woulda, shoulda. This time of year is anniversary time, so it just gets worse. I have even been able to come up with NEW shouldas that I never even thought of before. Luckily, I wrote a chronology of the rather protracted events that ended up in him being found dead, so when I read it I am reminded of some of the reasons, completely rational, I acted as I did at the time. This helps a little, but not enough. Control is a big part of it. Irrationally, I desperately want a do over.

    • Robin,

      It sounds like you have a lot of insight into your guilt – including when it’s irrational – and yet you still feel it. Isn’t the disconnect between rationality and emotion interesting? I’m not sure if this would be helpful at all, but we wrote a post about self forgiveness that tackles dealing with some of those coulda, woulda, and shouldas -


  64. I lost my 25 yr. old son to an overdose nearly 4 years ago. He was a great son, and so much more than just a “drug addict”. I want to remember him as who he really was, not the illness that took him. I am still dealing with guilt and seeing a counselor to help me think more rational about how I really did help my son as much as I possibly could. This comment, ” If we accept that we never could have known or changed the outcome we must accept that some things that happen are complete outside our control. As long as we hold on to guilt we have hope that we could have controlled the outcome. A perception of control (however inaccurate) is often more comforting than considering that we have no control.” really hits home with me. I am so glad I found this website and have told other grieving parents about it. The depth you take on about the topic of grief is amazing. There is so much to learn, I am still just hitting the surface of your site. Thank you for talking about grief and the death to overdose, the much ignored loss of life.

  65. I found this site yesterday while trying to understand my irrational anger. My son died 3 weeks ago of an ?accidental overdose of ??..tox reports pending. He had been clean 15 years..THANK YOU SO MUCH for this site. Learning about all the extra emotions. ..I have already buried parents sister and husband. . But this is worse. Guilt, blame , guilt FOR blame , …I’m sure I could go on with that. Many of my son’s friends are in this boat with me. Then there’s his girlfriend. ..who’s the recipient of a lot of the blame. We had not gotten to know each other yet so I feel of little comfort to her and her support system is not as extensive as mine. (Guilt? Nah..) But I also don’t have the emotional energy to be much help to her. Again, thank you and August 31 will be celebrated (the week after his 40th birthday)

    • Hey Sylvia,

      I’m so sorry about the death of your son. It happened so recently, I’m sure you guys are all still reeling. Have you by any chance had the opportunity to check out any of our posts about surviving an overdose death? We have a whole category dedicated to it. I’m just asking because sometimes people just find us through a Google search and don’t realize what other resources are available.


  66. My husband passed over 7 months ago. Last year, before his illness got “bad” my job moved 3 hours away. We decided tht I would stay with my job and stay in the town it moved to during the week and come home on weekends. My guilt stems from the fact I can’t get over that I “left” him to fend for himself and he died within 6 months. He had been living with his illness for a long time and we had been managing it. Then I start working in September and by November he started going downhill. He was on disability and I was the wage earner. We discussed me trying to find a job in town but at the time we felt it wasn’t a viable option because of the huge pay cut. All I do is wish. I wish I hadn’t left. I wish I had stayed and took care of him.

    • Julia,

      I’m so sorry for your pain. I won’t try and talk you out of your regret, but I will say that sometimes we just have to do what we have to do. I’m sure you made the decision that you had to make at the time, but I know this doesn’t change the fact that you wish you’d been there. I’m just very sorry.


  67. Thank you so much for writing this post. I am new to WYG. I am so grateful to have found you today. I have being going totally mad with the ‘shoulda, woulda, couldas’. I’ve only recently realised that the main thing I’m struggling with is guilt. What you have written is really useful. I think it will help me to start to work through some of my guilt. Just the realisation that it’s guilt that’s underlying is helpful. I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed for so long and not been able to get a handle on what’s wrong. It’s been making me so tired. I’m going to use your tips as a starting place. Much appreciated.

    • Joy, we are so glad you found us to. Guilt is one of the most difficult emotions of grief, so I am glad you found some help in this post. Take care and let us know how you are doing as you move forward.

  68. I am consumed with guilt over my Mothers passing 3 months ago. I can’t handle it.

  69. I think the thing about guilt is that, although many of our issues are big ones, even the small ones can plague us because they can’t be resolved. To this day I feel guilty for not going to see ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ with my mother when she was ill. To this day if I see it playing on cable I get really angry.

  70. I don’t have any guilt feelings in the sense that I feel I caused my sister’s death or could have prevented it (although I have certainly wished I could have prevented it). I have something more like survivor’s guilt – that I am alive and my children still have their mother, while my nieces and nephew are suffering without their mother. It’s not a prominent aspect of my grief and I do think it’s irrational – but it’s there. Thank you for sharing your blog with us.

  71. Thanks for this post. I read it 2 hours ago and thought “hmm I don’t have any guilt about my Dad’s illness and passing away”….and then, as always, I changed my mind! I do feel guilty about lots of things, every day since my Dad died. The guilt has been there but I hadn’t connected it with grief, but now it makes more sense. I feel guilty about other things instead….guilty about burning dinner, guilty about someone else treating me badly, guilty about not giving my husband more of my time, guilty at saying “bye” on a phone call in case the other person wasn’t ready! Luckily I don’ take myself too seriously!

    Just wanted you ladies to know I read WYG every time there is a new post (and here in the UK I wake up to your posts!). I’m also realising that as my grieving progresses, different posts/thoughts become more relevant than others. I can’t thank you enough for the important work you do to help me, others and people in the future. God Bless both of you.

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