Feeling guilty

My wife of 39 years passed away suddenly of a heart attack on the 18th October while collecting a parcel from a local shop.I wasn’t with her at the time as I was working.I was told there was a police officer on hand who came to the rescue and managed to keep her alive until the ambulance arrived,but her heart was too weak and she died in hospital.She seemed in good health was in work that day and her colleagues said she seemed her normal self.She did say a few weeks before to my daughter she had these palpitations sometimes but never troubled her and an occasional off day.Now I feel guilty for not seeing something coming and making her visit the doctors but she say no I’m ok.Its just coming to terms with it she was my soul mate.

Hi Steve, my name is Alan.

So sorry to hear that you lost your wife so suddenly - by the way what was her name?
My wife, Helen, had had a cough for a few weeks but we thought it was the infection that was going around locally. Of course it wasn’t, and when we got the consultant’s diagnosis in March he said, quite brutally, that no cancer treatment was on offer. Helen died 14 weeks ago so we had some 6 months. But, and a big but, I was in denial so although we managed to fit in 3 holidays at her favourite places I was always putting off the proper heart to heart talks we both needed, and I increasingly let my “role” as carer, as well as the NHS practicalities, get in the way. So yes I have many regrets and guilt for letting her down when it was in my power to try and make her better about it all.

Steve, you had no time. So although you have regrets I don’t think you should feel guilty. And I don’t think your wife would want you to either. Just a thought and it might not be possible or might be too painful, but can you meet the police officer who helped your wife - it might help you.

My wife Helen hated anything to do with doctors and it can be so difficult to get someone to do something they are reluctant to - I can’t get my son to register with a GP even after what happened to his mum. When I feel really lost I tell myself that Helen is still with me, because I haven’t lost what we did have together, nobody can take that away. I haven’t come to terms with losing Helen and I don’t think I will because it is a bit like a journey you never intended to take and with no set destination but you haven’t lost the good you had with your wife, and she died loving you, nobody could ask for more.

I’ve gone on a bit I know and I hope I haven’t offended, you are not alone in having regrets and thanks for letting me share my grief, take care, best wishes.

Hi Alan,

Thanks for your kind words and sorry to hear about your wife Helen.Like myself you must have been happy and content together.Heather my wife was 63 been married 39 years retirement around the corner so all was well or so I thought.Just like you say it’s being on a journey with no destination all unplanned.I am lucky to have a close family 3 all in their 30s and 2 grandchildren.My middle one still lives with me he’s like a rock.I have a sister and many good friends.
It was too painful at the time to find out details about the policeman involved but the hospital said every effort was made to save her.Like you say a heart attack can happen with no or little warning and there is always if only’s.We did have a holiday together in Scotland the month before.I admire you for having 3 holidays in the time you had that’s good.
Heather I feel is with me in spirit with plenty of photos of her and I find yoga helps which I have been practicing for 2 years.Anyway Alan always here to try and find away forward .Best wishes Steve

Hi Steve

It’s good to hear you have a solid family and friends. And yes I know that they can only guess at how you feel because they didn’t have the 39 years and more that you and Heather had together but I am sure they are a great support. Your family are all feeling it too in their own way and I am sure you are being a support to them even if you might not know you are. When my son comes down from London where he lives to the wilds of the north Kent marshes where we live (I still keep saying “we”, Helen and I, and I know it confuses people but I can’t stop), as I say, when he comes down I am always saying “When Helen this …or Helen that…” not just because I want to talk about her but in case Luke would like a prompt to open up more. Luke can be a bit deep, like his mum, but we all grieve in different ways. We won’t stop grieving, you and I, but I think we might get to handle it better.
I hope I didn’t imply that anything more could have been humanly done when Heather had her heart attack. Thinking about it, I think my suggestion (about the policeman) came out of my own guilt because the afternoon before Helen died I had a paramedic, a vicar, and the district nurse all trying to get me to see how near the end Helen was but I wouldn’t accept it and would have made so much more of the short time left. As you say, there are always “if onlys”.
I don’t know that I would have the patience for yoga, Steve - at the moment it is long walks, clearing the worst excesses of our “wildlife” garden, and a bit of decorating long deferred.
Its good to talk.
Take care and all the best.

Hi Alan

It’s good that your son visits you .Have you got company for xmas.Thats just one thing I’m not bothered about but I have put the tree up for the sake of my 3 and the grandkids who are 4 and 7.Usually done with great enthusiasm but not so now.At least they will be around which is what Heather would have wanted.
Walking is a great thing anyway but especially for people like us away from traffic and I found I’m becoming more spiritual less materialistic.Painting and decorating got plenty to do as well.might have more time now Best wishes always here Steve

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