feeling guilty that I didn't recognise a heart attack

Hello I lost my husband last august 2020 7 months ago yesterday, we had been married for only 26 years and together 27, three months after we got married he had a twisting accident at work, he didn’t get any compensation and he was pensioned off with ill health at the age of 46, he got depressed as well as having the disability, which got worse over the years, it affected his spine and discs, he was also type 1 diabetic, I gave up full time work to be his carer, I worked part time until I was nearly 70, I think the lockdown affected him more than he realised, and the last time we went out was to his brother’s wife’s funeral last March, her body had been found in the river and that affected him quite badly. His diabetes was always bad and even the doctors couldn’t control it properly. On the day he passed away his blood sugars were off the scale and he was being sick, which I thought was because he was so high, it wasn’t unusual for him to be so high although it was a long time since it had been. He asked if he could sit in my chair so I moved, before he sat down he said he couldn’t breathe and I said he needed a jab of insulin, his pen was empty so I went to the fridge to get a new one for him , when I came back in he was shaking badly so I had to give him the jab it wasn’t doing any good and he laid back in my chair and looked at me and his eyes radiated love to me, even then I didn’t recognise the signs, he closed his eyes and I thought he’d fallen into a diabetic coma, I rang for an ambulance and the lady said I had to get him on the floor and do CPR I couldn’t move him on my own so called my young neighbour in to help and we got him on the floor and tried CPR but it didn’t do any good , I think he’d already died when he closed his eyes, the paramedics got here and worked on him for a long time but it was no use. If I’d thought it was a heart attack I could have tried his angina spray I might have been able to save him. this is the first time I’ve put all this in writing and I’m crying now, I relive it over and over usually when I need to sleep at night, some nights I’m awake til 4 ish Now I’m abusing my body by eating chocolate and biscuits and all things I shouldn’t be eating as I have type 2 diabetes, I just can’t stop myself, but I’m scared that I will give myself a heart attack which wouldn’t be fair to my kids and grandkids, my Mum and her Dad both died suddenly out of the blue with massive heart attacks. what can I do? I’m sorry for the really long post, I think I just needed to get it written down xx


Hi Gilly2, so sorry for your loss, hope this site will help you find some support. Your story is so similar to mine, my Mark had to retire early following an accident, and I became his carer and well as working as a carer. He too died due to sudden cardiac arrest, but he was in hospital, they took him in with suspected gastroenteritis, but they didn’t know he was going to collapse and despite their efforts, unfortunately they couldn’t save him. I’m sure you did everything that you could do at the time, and it is so easy to blame ourselves in hindsight. Look after yourself, you said you have children and grandkids, focus on them, and take care xx


Hello Gilly,

So sorry for your loss.

I also feel very guilty for not recognising a heart attack. The symptoms my Paul had was excessive sweating and muscle ache, the same symptoms he always got with the meds he was on. The paramedics said it was a suspected heart attack buthedied in arrival at hospital.

I really feel terribe I didn’t know. But I’m trying hard to change my thinking when I slip into tortouring myself with those thoughts.

I hope you can find some way of being kinder to yourself also.

Merrin x

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thank you for your reply, I suppose we were lucky in a way as hubby passed away at home , he always said he didn’t want to die in hospital xx

So sorry for your loss.
You must be upset beyond words.
Be kind to yourself, hurting yourself is a reaction by over eating unsuitable things
Sort of like you want to unconsciously punish yourself.
This is counter productive.
You cannot change what happened.
It’s definitely not your fault in any way.
You did everything in your power to help.
You will get through this, though you probably don’t think it now. I promise you will.
I also relived the last of Gary’s life also thinking how it could have been different, but I realized now it’s the past which I cannot change and I beating myself up for the past is just futile.

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Hi Gilly2
My Gary didn’t like the idea of passing away at the hospital’ he got his desire.
We were both lucky in that respect.
Take care

Hi Merrin thank you for your reply, I’m sorry that you lost your husband too , I’m usually worse when I lie down in bed at night and then my mind takes over and I can’t sleep, when I do eventually sleep I find it hard to get up in the mornings as I’m so tired , so sometimes I’m still in bed at 11.00am I will try to change my thinking like you said Gill xx

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thank you x

Hi @Gilly2 and thank you.

I am finding that being gentle with myself is helping. I never really knew what it meant before.

I usually lie in bed until 11 or after without feeling bad, I guess that’s what it means.

Today I have been horizontal for about 90% of the day, reading books about grief and just thinking, of Paul, of the future.

It’s such an individual course to take grief, isn’t it, and living in it is all we can do … gently.

Much love Merrin x