Guilt for no reason

Hi there, I lost my Dad last year after a brief battle with cancer and no matter what I do I struggle to reconcile that I did the right thing. The day he was admitted was gruesome and he woke me coughing up blood and was begging me not to call an ambulance because he didn’t want to die in hospital but obviously I had to. He lived 13 days in hospital and sadly passed.
I’ve worked so hard to get final images out of my head and remember him as he was which I’m making progress with but what I can’t do is get past the guilt that I called the ambulance and he did in fact die in hospital. My logical mind knows it was the right thing but emotions take over and I can’t forgive myself.
Anyone had a similar experience and any tips of what to do to help get past this ? Thank you

1 Like

You totally did the right thing. If you had not done this you know he would have died and your guilt at not calling the ambulance and getting to hospital would have been horrific. You had to do it. You were between a rock and a hard place. You gave him the best chance which was to be in hospital and were with him when he died. I am so sorry for your loss. I am so sorry for all of us and for our loved ones. Please please don’t beat yourself up. You will still grieve of course but don’t feel guilty over doing the right thing, the only thing you could do xxxxx

1 Like

Hi Bell,
Thank you, I know you’re right it just doesn’t go away. I’m quite a rational and logical person normally and I think one of the hardest things about grief is it’s neither. Totally unpredictable.
I am sorry for all our losses. My heart goes to anyone suffering. Thank you for your reply xx

1 Like

Grief distorts your thinking. The front part of your brain shuts down when your stressed, So logical thought goes out the window. In time you will see that you made the right decision. You didn’t have any other option.

How would you be have been able to look after someone that sick. It would of been difficult to say the least. You know in your heart you did the right thing that’s all that matters.


Hi. I’m sorry you had that experience & that you feel unsure if you made the right decisions at the time. Sounds like you didn’t really have a choice. You made the best decision you could in traumatic circumstances.

I had a similar experience with my Mum who passed away 2 years ago. I found her at home & she had had a massive stroke & although she really struggled to communicate she did manage to say not to call an ambulance. I think she had been there all night.

She would have hated to go into hospital or a home, but of course I called an ambulance. She died a few days later after we were told we basically had to let her go, as there was so much damage done.

I miss her so much & Im very sad, but I’m getting used to that. What I find hardest is the guilt. Feeling like I betrayed her wishes at the end.
I too know it’s not rational, but it’s not easy to be rational when you’re grieving.
I beat myself up a lot about this & that I didn’t notice how much she was failing & should have been more on the ball.

I read your post & felt so much compassion for you. I struggle to find that compassion for myself, but I think that’s the way forward.
You did the right thing, you did your best, you couldn’t have done more.
What helps me is:
Trying to focus on happier memories , not just the last horrible week which was just a snapshot from a long & happy life. ( This is getting a bit easier now)

Thinking what my Mum would say- all loving, compassionate things, understanding that I had no choice really.

Finding ways to remember her in a positive, creative way.

Thinking how I would speak to a friend, or stranger who had had a traumatic experience like that. I wouldn’t blame them or judge them, I’d feel compassion. And try to speak to myself like that.

Sorry this is so rambling! My first reply on this site. I hope it helps to know that you’re not alone in the way you feel. Take care & be kind to yourself.

Hello Susan17 pleas don’t beat yourself up, I think you did the right thing. - My brother died of a sudden and unexpected heart attack. We did get a food delivery that day. He Thought he heart his arms lifting a heavy box. He also thought that his chest infection was coming back that day in February because it was very cold. I wanted to call an ambulance just to be sure, but he said no. He did not want to wait or hours in A&E. Later, the paramedics told that my brother had no chance and he just would have died in the ambulance or at the hospital.

So, we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. - I think you did the right thing, and I did not. - I know that there was nothing that could have saved my brother’s life, but I still blame myself for his death.


Hi Nick,
Thankyou for your kind words. You’re absolutely right, damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I hope you stop blaming yourself too. It sounds like it wouldn’t have made much difference in the end.

My Mum had had a bit of a funny turn the week before she had her stroke & I now think that was a heart attack, but she hid it so well & didn’t want any medical intervention. She more or less told us to go home! So now I think if I’d been firmer & insisted on a doctor or ambulance at that point she might still be here. Although she would have ended up in hospital or a home.

It’s not easy is it? You did your best in the circumstances & hindsight is not helpful.
I hope you can find some peace. Let’s all stop beating ourselves up. Easier said than done though!

Hello Tigertim, thank you for your reply.

The ambulance paramedic told me that day that they did not get any signal from the heart at all. Later, I was also told by the coroner that there was a lot of blood between my brother’s heart and the heart sack.

But, there are still times when I think about what I could have done better.

I am sorry about your Mum, yes, it is not easy. - It looks as if your Mum and my brother (74) had something in common. - My brother could be real stubborn sometimes.

You wrote: “So now I think if I’d been firmer & insisted on a doctor or ambulance at that point she might still be here.”

You also said: “hindsight is not helpful.”

Let us agree that we both stop beating up ourselves. - Nick

1 Like