Guilt - Not there when your partner passed

I originally wrote this as a reply to a few people who felt guilty as they weren’t with their partner when they passed away - but having reread it - it may help others? (This really only applies those who lost their partner - if it hasn’t happened to you, you can’t understand - losing a partner is different to losing a parent).
Apologies it’s quite a long post, but it may change some people’s outlook on guilt and loss…
Please let me explain.
My darling wife Sharon was diagnosed out of the blue on 30th July 2019 with incurable Stage 4 pancreatic cancer with multiple lesions having already spread to her liver. At that stage we had been together for 42 years, and she was only 59. They gave her 6-12 weeks to live and said she would not see 2020. Sharon defied them all, refused to surrender and didn’t want to leave our perfect life together. She endured 40 devastating chemotherapires (totally unheard of), 13 emergency admissions to hospital, several surgical procedures - and I took her to Venice for her 60th birthday (secretly flew her family out on the day) and took her for our Ruby anniversary to Australia as the World was shutting down with covid.
Eventually, in 2021 - in hospital for kidney failure, the doctors decided to stop treatment saying Sharon only had 3-4 days to live. I had her transferred to a Hospice by ambulance the next day (Christmas Day) and as per her (and my) wishes refused to leave her side 24/7 (which the Hospice accommodated) and slept beside her on a chair or campbed. Sharon still defied them all and refused to leave, for 5 months, during which time I lived in the Hospice at her bedside. Eventually, unable to eat, drink, swallow for a couple of weeks they told me one night that she would not see the dawn, so I climbed into her bed and held her in my arms all night. However, she still refused to go and was still with us, in my arms the next morning. The doctors couldn’t believe it. The following night, again they said she had only a very few hours and would pass on the night for certain so again I held her in my arms all night, but again she refused to leave our perfect life together. And the next night - totally defying all medical science, she did exactly the same thing.
So - apologies for the long post, but this is important and may alleviate your guilt if you are in a similar situation - the point of the story… At 10.00pm the following evening, the nurses came in to prepare Sharon for the night, so I said to my darling: “I’ll have a quick wee, and jump in with you in a minute Sweetie” and had a swift pee in the en-suite. When I returned 2 minutes later, got my kit off as the Staff Nurse was preparing the bed etc, she suddenly turned and said: “Oh Dennis, I think you might need to look at Sharon”. I went to my darling girl, held her, but she’d literally just gone that second. I asked her: “why? Why Sharon? My angel. Why did you not wait? Why?”.
The SN explained that this is VERY COMMON (the Hospice deals with c 2 deaths every day so they are experts) - and that Sharon’s last thought was to protect me; she didn’t want me to deal with the shock of her passing in my arms, she was saving me as much as possible. I couldn’t accept this. Two other nurses told me the same but I still didn’t get it. I revisited the Hospice 19 times for counselling and to give wholesale boxes of chocolates to the nurses on the ward - and every time they told me how common this is, and anonymously quoted loads and loads of other stories. Eventually, I got it - my darling girl and I had the best life possible, and she tried desperately not to leave me, but when she really couldn’t hang on any more, her last thought was for me. My face is leaking while I write this.
So: if your partner went when you weren’t there, it is because they love you and wanted to protect you. So you do not need to feel guilty, they woulnt want that anyway.


That’s so incredibly moving and beautiful. I’ve heard this too, that loved ones spare you this painful experience and they let go when you’re not there to witness them leaving.

I’m so sorry for your loss. My loss was different, he died suddenly and unexpectedly away from home, I didn’t get to hold him, day goodbye or kids him till it was too late.

Another guilt.

He didn’t know he was going to die that day but someone departed me the pain that goes with watching him die, for that I’m grateful


@Ali29 yep…
there is no easy way. It’s all shit.


mine got taken to hospital at 3am on easter sat 22, with what we thoughtwas a diabetic problem that he had had before and would be back in a couple of days. however it was sepsis which no one knew about and he had died by 12 noon. The last time i saw him was coming down onhis chair lift to get in ambulance. I never saw him again. never had the chance to say anything to him let alone goodbye. I feel guilty for not knowing what was wrong, why he never said anything and for not saying anything in the previous few months like I love you, I do care. you take it for granted they know all this and things dont get said. no ones fault.


But @SueF1 you weren’t to know. Guilt is if you deliberately cause someone a problem and regret it afterwards… but there is no guot if you didn’t know. I previously beat myself up a million times because I’d stepped out, but had I known Sharon would go at that point of course I would have stayed, but no one knew…


Just to say i am also in tears for you what a beautiful courageous loving selfless person your wife was and i totally get the meaning behind them not wanting to put us through the sad pain of seeing them pass i was not with my husband has he passed in hospital very suddenly in the early morning of a blood clot which we never saw comming, so thankyou so much for posting this it does give me some understanding and comfort to know this :pray:


@DennisS Thank you for sharing this. It has helped me immensely and I hope it helps others too.


I totally get that. I spent every night with my Karen and most of the day, only going home to feed the cats and freshen up. On the morning of her last day, I said to the nurse I was going to go home and return later. They asked to postpone that because they felt she only had a few hours left. By 3pm, I said I had to go before the cats tore the flat apart. By the time I got home, a matter of 20 mins away, they rang me up to say she had passed away.
I am utterly convinced that Karen waited for me to go because I had seen her suffer enough and didn’t want me to carry the burden of seeing her go.
Right to the end, as throughout our time together, everything was on her terms


I wasn’t with my husband when he died as it was impossible to get to the hospital in time. I wish I had been of course I do.
I was with my dad. Not with my mum. That is how it can’t help but be.
I did try to help him when I could. He knew that.
But he had just had enough. But he did look peaceful later on before he was buried. I did go and say a final goodbye on my own. I do go to his final resting place sometimes to put flowers there. I go where we used to go. I talk to him in my mind. Wherever I go I think of I am walking in his foot prints. I try go imagine I am carrying on for him.
I do what he used to do.
I have to no one else will.
I appreciate all he used to do in his memory.
I feel close to him weeding where he used to do it.


I’m a nurse too and it is true that many protect their family from the pain . I have sadness that I was abroad for a short holiday with friend s when my husband collapsed and died in our bedroom.

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On the 19th June I spent all day holding my wife’s hand,talking to her,telling her how much I loved her and as with previous days left for home around 8pm. Midnight I received a call from the hospice saying my wife wanted me there, clearly I guessed why.
Having got there in double quick time she was quite lucid and said “I bet you drove like mad to get here,” I sat with her all night,she had been given pain relief and calming medication so around 7:30 I said to the nurse my wife seems to have settled down and got through the danger period so I will dash away home for a shower and be back in half an hour … ten minutes after I left my lovely wife died.
I arrived back by her side exactly 8 am and put my arms around her,she was still warm and I wouldn’t accept she had gone without me there.There is a suggestion that the sense of hearing is the last to go and she may have known that I was going home to shower.
I raged in absolute grief and guilt,I should have been there.
The Hospice nurses told me that it wasn’t unusual,that people go to the bathroom and their loved one chooses the time to let go.


I couldn’t get there in time as the hospital was too far away when the telephone rang to inform me I needed to hurry as he had not long. I knew there was nothing I could do. I knew I would be too late. The worst thing was that he wanted to come home so much and had to stay in hospital five weeks. He tried so hard to make it.
He suffered so much.
I hate how he had to suffer. It cuts me up.
I miss him so much.


I don’t believe that any of us in this position that we find ourselves , not through choice,have a single thing to feel guilty about. What we do have is this indescribable pain of losing the one person that we love above all others. Slowly I’m beginning to realise that there isn’t an ideal or painless way to see someone leave us.
I have no way of explaining how I feel just over three weeks on,endless hours and days of nothing but tears and knowing she has gone,begging her to come back while walking until my feet are sore because I can’t bear being in what was our beautiful home.
I can only imagine your grief but what I know for a fact is that it is all consuming. Do whatever it takes to get through today,don’t look to the future for now and of course sit with the enormous pain of grieving because I am told it will become more bearable. Take care,as with many of the people on here I’m thinking of you.