Feeling guilty

Hi everyone, i stumbled across this site by accident and after reading a lot of your posts can take a lot of comfort that i’m not alone going through this awful process called grief.
My wife Ange died in February of this year three days after suffering a cardiac arrest, she’d gone to bed as normal to read and while i was trying to nod off i heard three strange grunt type of noises and jokingly said “bloody hell is that book that bad”, when she didn’t reply i turned and realised something was wrong (this is where the title of the post Feeling guilty comes into it).
At first i thought Ange was having a seizure of some kind because her face was contorted and her arms and hands bent inwards, so i then spent the next few minutes shouting her name and shaking her, i phoned 999 and even then i couldn’t answer the first question of is the patient breathing because Ange was in a slumped position, i eventually dragged her out of bed and started CPR till the first responder and Ambulance arrived but my overriding feeling even after nine months is one of guilt and that i could have done more.
I spoke to Doctors and nurses who looked after Ange in intensive care and they all said at least you gave her a fighting chance but it’s still hard to take in when the guilt takes over.
Thanks for listening and take care xx Pete

Hi I totally understand how you are feeling.
I lost my partner suddenly in May to a heart attack he was only 48 I got woken up with him making a horrible sound then he started shaking he got up out of bed and then lay on the floor. I shouted on my older son and we took turns of CPR they took him straight to hospital my son went in the ambulance my neighbour took me and my other son to hospital when we arrived he had passed away. I also felt guilty that I could of done more but we tried our best and so did the paramedics. You also did your best so please remember that.
Take care
Christine x

Hi Christine,
Thanks for the reply, I’m sorry to hear of your loss, I think a lot of my guilt also comes from the fact that it happened in our bedroom and for many weeks after Ange died I could picture her struggling to survive while the paramedics worked on her,
Pete xx

Hi Pete and Christine

I am so sorry to read your posts and of the horrible suddenness of both your partner’s passing. It is an awful and very frightening thing seeing someone you love have a heart attack. I think you are both amazing that you knew what to do with CPR etc. As you say you did your best and should feel so proud that you did. Hearing is supposed to be the last sense to go so your partners will have known you were there and heard your voices.

My Dad had a heart attack over 20 years ago very suddenly. Apart from calling 999 I did not know what to do and it spurred me on to do a first aid course. Dad did not survive the heart attack which was a massive one. I took a long time to come to terms with what had happened and the guilt feeling I should and could have done more.

It is also very hard seeing paramedics working on our loved ones. Very frightening. I know from my own experience that the memories of that do fade eventually.

I really feel for you both and can only say how very sorry I am. Please take care of yourselves and keep coming back to this forum if you need help or advice. People are so kind here, they understand because we are all grieving the loss of someone we love.


I’m so sorry for your loss. I think we can all relate to your guilty feelings. I feel guilt for not taking my wife’s illness seriously when she first went in to hospital. For not helping to prevent the illness in the first place. We loved each other so much and hindsight really isn’t kind. I keep going over my wife’s passing every day. Thinking what if but could I have changed the end result. I don’t think so. Today I visited her in the funeral home the hardest thing I have ever done and it broke me. But she wasn’t in there she is in a happier place and hopefully I can join her once more

Hi Mel

Thanks for the kind words, I can see that in time the guilt will fade but then up pops something on the tv etc and the memories come flooding back.

So sorry to hear that you had to go through something similar with your dad, it’s truly heartbreaking to watch the paramedics working on a loved one.

Take care xx

So sorry to hear of your loss, your post reminded me of my wife’s time in ICU, even though she was only in three days before she passed away I had seen her in ICU at least four times over the previous five years and not for one minute did I think she wouldn’t be coming home this time, so it was an unbelievable shock when we were told that she was going to be taken off the life support,

Hello Pete. I am so sorry for your suffering. Your loss is so similar to my own. I was woken around 4.30am by a strange grunting noise from my husband. I elbows him thinking he was snoring but very quickly realised something was very wrong. I called for an ambulance and like you, performed CPR. The paramedics got his heart started with defib but he’d been down too long and suffered catastrophic brain damage. This all happened on a Thursday, the following Monday they switched his life support off. My husband had not been ill, he was a very fit and healthy man so it was a massive shock.

I understand your feelings of guilt. I went over and over in my mind to see if I’d missed anything leading up to that fateful day. I asked friends and family if they had noticed anything and I also asked our GP but there was nothing. I eventually got an appointment with the hospital consultant and he explained in great detail how such a healthy person could suddenly have a fatal heart attack. He also explained how it is virtually impossible to restart the heart using CPR alone - that’s why defibrillators are so important. However, CPR is better than doing nothing. I’m telling you this Pete so you can stop beating yourself up as there really was nothing you could have done. The consultant also told me that statistically only 4% of heart attacks at home survive. That’s very low indeed. My visit and consultant’s explanation helped me enormously. There was so much more he told me which helped me to understand what the hell had happened.

Anyway, I hope my experience helps to take away your feelings of guilt because you really did do everything you possibly could for your wife.

Sending love xx

Hi Kate, thanks so much for your reply and kind words, I’m so sorry that you had to go through something similar, our stories really do mirror one another.
I’ve taken a lot of comfort from the replies to my original post because you think you’re the only one this has happened to when in reality it happens every day to a lot of unfortunate people.
I read that the statistics of survival of a cardiac arrest at home were small, but still had those pangs of guilt in thinking maybe Ange could have been one of that small per cent if I’d acted quicker, I suppose it’s all part of the grieving process that we’re all going through.
Take care xx

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This feeling of guilt for me is the hardest part of it all. I feel guilty listening to music watching TV eating a meal. It’s only been a few weeks now but I’ve got to get past this guilt to enable me to remember the good times of which ninety five per cent of lives together was. She would be so mad looking down on me now. I have a meeting this week with the icu medical team so I’m hoping for some answers which might help me understand what happened and why. It’s really so hard I’m in bed at the moment and looking to my right the bed is empty she is supposed to be there. Xxx

Hi Pete. Sorry for your loss. Guilt seems to be a common thread in grief. I have been reading a book on coping with grief and it looks at guilt that the bereaved feel. I found this helpful…it suggests that you identify what you feel guilty about. Then, consider what evidence there is for this. Probably not anything you can pin down. We want so much to take control and undo what happened. We know we can’t do that. Amongst the sadness and lack of control and lost confidence and despair we add guilt.
You are not alone Pete, not sure if that helps a bit. My husband died suddenly while I was with overseas family. I also have guilt that had I been here he may not have died, or I would have been with him able to hold his hand. But even had I been in the country, it’s possible that he may still have died without me.
So, I think that we the bereaved, the lonely, the hollowed-out, are very hard on ourselves. Perhaps we need to be a little kinder to ourselves. Take care.

Stevie Wee, A few weeks after the loss of your wife it’s still going to be very raw emotion wise, so the feeling of guilt are natural, I bet every person on this forum felt guilty after smiling, laughing or even in your case listening to music etc in the initial weeks after their own losses.

I hope your meeting with the ICU team goes well and that they can give you some answers to help you in some way.
Take care mate.

Hi everyone. Had a bad morning today but then my brother and sister in law called this afternoon and cheered me a little. Whilst reading a poetry book I came across the following which I thought was apt for this thread:

Wondering if we failed someone we love is excruciating

Loving them is easy…


Hi Annette, Thanks for your reply and i’m sorry for your own loss, I’ve not read any books about grief but have read a lot of articles online, that’s how i came across this forum and the kind and understanding words have been a big help for myself in knowing that i’m not alone in grieving and the feeling of guilt.

My own guilt has been along the lines of if only…if only i’d known it was a cardiac arrest…if only i’d started CPR earlier, i don’t know why i (who incidentally has no medical or first aid training) think i should have recognised what was going on, but it still doesn’t stop the guilt trips.

Your last paragraph just about sums it up,we the bereaved are hard on ourselves,
take care xx Pete

Thanks everyone I’m hoping that meeting the icu team can put my mind at rest and help dispell my feelings of guilt cheers everyone x

Too true x

I agree completely with what you say and it’s a comfort others feel as I do.
My husband died in his sleep 6 weeks ago, having not previously been ill. I have been feeling guilty thinking why did I not see any symptoms of potential heart failure beforehand - but the Drs tell me some people don’t have symptoms.
I feel so out of control having lost him, with my whole future shattered that I continually want answers to why it happened but there is none.
It is so difficult to come to terms with him no longer being here any more - I just want him back so much that I can’t bare it.
Does it get any easier? Currently I don’t see any future for me, despite having 2 lovely daughters

Hi Diane, my guilt is different to yours in that I was somewhat complicit in what happened my wife had a drink problem. She never seemed to be under the influence but getting back from work we would share a bottle of wine in the evening but I was unaware of anything she had in the day. She was a little one with a small appetite so that made things worse. Hindsight says I could have done something to stop it but in reality I don’t think I could have.why did she need to do this I don’t know we were so happy. I did try to cut her intake down and we did seek help on three separate occasions but nothing came our way. She developed pancreatitis and then a huge infection invaded her lungs. She fought for 7 weeks. But the battle was lost like you I am devastated lost heartbroken. I cry at the least provocation sob like a baby. I miss her so much. Life has no meaning I have the children to look out for as well as the grandkids. But there lives go on where as mine has come to a shuddering end. I also see no future. But would she want that I don’t think so. She would want me to make the kids happy. Remember her to the grandkids. I owe her big time for the love we shared. I still have the funeral to get through next week. But she will be with me holding my hand and my heart. Our love hasn’t ended its still alive. Xxx

Hi Diane. I’m so sorry for your loss…such a shock for you. It’s not long since your life was turned upside down…don’t expect too much of yourself so soon, it takes time to adjust, everything has changed and overriding is the sadness, emptiness.
It has been six months since my husband died. Only now am I starting to feel that I feel remotely drawn to think about anything other than the situation and the apparent mess and confusion.
Everyone is different of course. For myself I want to see a way forward in life taking my memories with me and cherishing them…as part of my new life without my husband at my side.
I do believe that time gives us the possibility to adjust…there is no set procedure.
You will find your way. Go steady and accept help…others do care. Xx

My wife spent seven weeks in hospital despite being told on several occasions by the consultant that she could be discharged. I feel guilty that I was unable to get her out of there and she asked me every day if I would take her home. It was extremely difficult to get to speak to anyone who actually knew why she was kept there so long. The longer she stayed the more her mobility deteriorated and as a consequence of that she developed a pulmonary embolism. After seven weeks we were told there weren’t any carers available to enable her to go home. Fortunately she was able to go for two weeks to a Sue Ryder Hospice and then she came home and died twenty days later. It was so unfair that of her last twelve weeks seven of them were spent in hospital and two in the hospice when I’m sure she could have had better care at home. I was told that there are many people trapped in hospital and they are, in effect, bedblockers. I feel so guilty that despite my best efforts I was unable to influence things and affect the inertia in the NHS.

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