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Mum died tonight. Should I feel guilty?

(75 Posts)
Pollyj Mon 23-Dec-19 00:04:07

I've just come home from the care home mum was in. She died at about 9pm. I called an hour before and she was 'the same' as yesterday, and then they called an hour later to say come in, but she died before I got there.

She's been failing for a while and we knew the end was near as she'd stopped eating and drinking. I spent a long time with her yesterday, holding her hand and sitting with her, though she could barely know I was there. I visited several times a week, though it was sad seeing her as she was. I didn't visit today though, although I did ring, as I say. Now I feel guilty. I expect even if I had, I'd have gone home before the time she died, but I have all sorts of mixed feelings going round in my head.

It's a terrible shock even though she was 96 and obviously fading. Just wanted to know how anyone else felt or reacted.

GagaJo Mon 23-Dec-19 00:07:50

Shock, is the word I think. NOT the same at all, and I'm not implying it is for a second, but 10 years ago, I found out my granny had died in the middle of a lesson (via email). I read the email and then stood up and continued teaching.

I was in shock. I can't believe now I did that.

Sending you love. Be kind to yourself. You cared and you didn't know. If she didn't know you were there the night before, she will have slipped away very quietly.

Buffybee Mon 23-Dec-19 00:13:04

I’m sorry about your Mum Polly and I know exactly what you mean about the guilt.
You sound like a very caring Daughter who has visited and done the best you could for your Mum.
You shouldn’t feel guilty at all.
Look after yourself. flowers

Evie64 Mon 23-Dec-19 00:17:08

Oh Polly, please accept my condolences. Your mum knew you loved her, that's all that matters isn't it? Give yourself a break, whatever you've had done, you would find something to feel guilty about, that's what we all do when a loved one dies. There was nothing you should have done differently that would have made an iota of difference. xxx

Pollyj Mon 23-Dec-19 00:35:47

Thank you.

Alishka Mon 23-Dec-19 00:40:25

My condolences, Pollyflowers
Evie64 has said exactly what I wanted to say, you've looked after your mum and now it's time to be kind to yourself. All the very best to you, Alishka x

Pollyj Mon 23-Dec-19 00:42:39

Thank you too. Thanks everyone who is replying. x

Pixxie7 Mon 23-Dec-19 00:46:07

Bless you somehow it is always worse this time of the year. You did all that you could for your mum and she would have known. Be kind to yourself guilt is part of grieving. It will pass and you will realise that you couldn’t have known she was going to die today. Sincere condolences.?

rosecarmel Mon 23-Dec-19 00:49:21

We were with my husband when he died- Several minutes after he stopped breathing my son sat down in a chair and said, "There's never enough time-" It was poignant- He was correct- There simply never is- We've had 6 deaths in less than 2 years time, most recently my mum in October- During quiet moments alone I've examined my feelings about each death, and when the feelings were fresh I believe I experienced guilt for one thing or another- But as time passed I began to believe that what my son said is what I'd been feeling all along, that there's never enough time ..

I'm sorry for your loss and I understand .. flowers

SueDonim Mon 23-Dec-19 01:07:28

I’m so sorry, Pollyj. flowers

I don’t think you have anything to berate yourself about, you sound a lovely daughter. Sometimes people just seem to wait until a quiet moment and then slip away peacefully. That’s happened on two occasions to people known to me and maybe your mum was biding her time, on a quiet Sunday evening.

You will be shock, as others say. No matter how expected it is, there is still the disbelief that it’s happened. And age is simply a number, it’s meaningless when you lose a loved one. Thinking of you. X

sukie Mon 23-Dec-19 03:55:55

My deepest condolences Polly for the loss of your dear mum. As others have said so well, she knew you loved her and there is never enough time. It always feels like there is something more we could have, should have done or said. You will be in my thoughts in the coming days. Take care.

MawB Mon 23-Dec-19 04:41:06

Deepest sympathy Pollyj - she will have known you were with her the day before and I expect she slipped away very quietly.
Guilt is one of the range of emotions which all too often assail us when we lose someone we love.
But you have nothing to blame yourself for. It must have been heartbreaking to see her failing but the memories of the last weeks or months will soon blend into recollections of happier times
“Do not be sad that she is gone, be glad that she was “ flowers

annep1 Mon 23-Dec-19 04:43:22

So very sorry for the loss of your dear mother. You certainly have nothing to feel guilty about. It sounds like you spent a lot of time with her. You couldn't be with her every minute. We all feel irrational guilt for one thing or another. Even seven years later I still think, Why didn't I ...... but there was no perfect way. Your mother knew you loved her.. x

absent Mon 23-Dec-19 05:18:18

Ultimately and in reality, everyone dies on their own. I looked after my mother for the last five or six years of her life but I wasn't there when she died in the night. As far as I understand she wasn't either. Being there when she was alive – all of when she was alive or even in just old age – is what is important. Victorian death-bed scenes are just maudlin but make interesting paintings.

BradfordLass72 Mon 23-Dec-19 05:30:31

I don't think any one of us escaped guilt completely, however hard we have tried to care for those we love.

I have spoken to dozens of people over the years (as a counsellor) and all have said the same.

Even when a loved one has died after months of pain, those who are left feel guilty because they are relieved the suffering is over.

"I'm glad my Dad is dead, isn't that awful of me?" No, actually it's not. It's logical and sensible, why would you want him to go on in pain?

As you did all you could, there's no need for you to feel guilty either.

One other thing which comforts people is Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's assertion that no one dies alone.

She spent many years working with the dying and watched as people smiled, or reached out, or murmured a greeting, moments before death, to some family member who had passed and seemed present at the bedside.

This too was confirmed by quite a few of my clients.

M0nica Mon 23-Dec-19 06:29:45

No need for guilt. My sister and I sat by my dying father's bed for 5 hours without a break, then went out for a cup of coffee and a toilet break. He died in the 15 minutes we were doing that.

One of the nurses said that some people, actually want the privacy of dying without company and I think that is true. He was a very private man. He too was in his 90s, but that does not make the loss any less of a shock, She was your mother, you have known her all your life. It is natural to be shocked and lost when she dies.

Do not make a sad situation worse with unnecessary guilt. You were clearly a loving daughter and death is inevitable for all of us. Wren't you lucky to have her for so long.

Remember the happiness you had, and do not dwell on what you had no control over.

Sparkling Mon 23-Dec-19 06:44:21

It sounds as if you were a very caring daughter, nothing to reproach yourself for. You are in shock, as even though death is expected you are still not fully prepared. Believe me when I say, people can sit round a dying persons bed for hours, that minute they have to leave, for just a new minutes, is the loved one dies. She had a long life and you shared that with her, remember the good times.

craftergran Mon 23-Dec-19 07:00:05

I helped looked after my mum when she got ill and later died eleven years ago. Only last week, whilst in the shower, I recalled a situation where I thought I should have done something different in one tiny moment and I felt awful. In a more reasoned moment, I realised I did everything I could do, whilst also coping with my own emotions. I will say I practically lived with my parents during my mothers final year and anytime I went away for a couple of days break back home or wherever, my mother would be worse when I got back. She seemed to be able to let go more when I wasn't there. Your mother probably let go when you weren't there because she didn't want to when you were there.

janeainsworth Mon 23-Dec-19 07:11:19

polly I can’t add to what Monica and others have written, except to say I’m very sorry.
I remember feeling terribly alone when my mum died, even though I had DH and my own children.
Feel sad that she has gone, but please don’t feel guilty. Your mum would have known how much you loved her and cared for her.

cornergran Mon 23-Dec-19 07:43:14

I’m sorry for the loss of your Mum polly, please don’t reproach yourself in any way. The same thing happened to me with both parents, my belief now is they waited until they were alone but yes, there were all sorts of emotions at the time. The important thing is you were with your Mum in her life, you cared for and about her, spent time with her. You could do no more. I hope you have loving, supportive family and friends to be with you and send a hug and love from me.

grannypiper Mon 23-Dec-19 07:47:26

You loved your Mum and she loved you, that is all that matters. Be kind to yourself x

mumofmadboys Mon 23-Dec-19 07:50:01

I am sorry too but please don't feel guilty. You did your best and I'm sure your DM knew you loved her. I think it is part of the human condition to feel guilty and always think we could have done more or something else when someone dies, however much we have done.

Yehbutnobut Mon 23-Dec-19 07:54:59


NfkDumpling Mon 23-Dec-19 08:04:31

I wasn’t there at the deaths’ of either of my parents.

Mum and I had sat all day and well into the night with my dad. In the end mum was exhausted and I took her home. Then I too went home for a bit of sleep. I probably wasn’t safe to drive. Dad died about an hour after we’d left. The manager of the home said he was probably waiting for us to leave as he was a very private person.

Mum on the other hand probably would have liked me to stay, but again I had gone home for a bit of much needed sleep, and I only lived a couple of minutes away. But she slipped away during the early hours.

I’m told that the feelings of guilt are natural and show that the deceased was loved. That you feel guilt at not being able to prevent them leaving, that you could, should, have done more. Made them better. Kept them with you. But you couldn’t Polly, you did your best as we all do. flowers

Philippa60 Mon 23-Dec-19 08:05:14

Sorry for your loss and I agree with others who have posted about parents sometimes waiting till a loved child is not with them to pass. This is what happened with my beloved father who died at only 73. I had spent so much time with him in the hospital, but was not there when he died. I did not feel guilty because, like you, I did spend so much quality time with him when he was dying, and I also truly believed he needed to let go and pass without feeling responsible for me, his daughter. It really comforted me to know that by not being there, I had enabled him to pass in peace.
I hope this helps.
It's totally normal and fine to grieve and be sad, but please don't feel guilty.