Guilt, sadness and regret

I lost my elderly father to bone cancer on the 31st of December. He battled prostate cancer for 18years but when it spread he died within 6 weeks (despite the oncologist estimating 6 months - 1 year). It all happened so quickly at the end that it was chaotic. he was in hospital - which he hated - and then home for 2.5 weeks which was horrendous as he was in a total mess. We then managed to get him into a hospice and he died there after 3 days which was at least peaceful though we had no last words as he ended up in a morphine coma. When i have mentioned to people he lived for 18 years with cancer they think that’s positive - but it wasn’t. He was depressed and anxious for much of it and in the early years when he was actually still in reasonable shape behaved like an invalid (lying in bed all day and refusing to walk more then the length of the street). We tried to talk to him and get him to still do the things he had enjoyed but he refused and the kind/gentle/patient man that we had all grown up with became a grumpy and very inward looking person who took limited interest in his grandchildren (my brothers daughters). But at the end he really was in a terrible state and i feel very badly that we all let him down because we had compassion fatigue but that is no excuse. My Mum looked after him all these years and put up with a lot but she lost patience with him too. Now that he has died i feel utterly devastated. He spent his whole retirement ill and feel we should all have made more of an effort but my brothers don’t live in our home city and were busy with their own lives. I feel i will never be able to forgive myself for not being more understanding. I saw him pretty much every week and tried to do things for him and we did manage to have some happy family times but his illness cast a huge shadow over his life and also the rest of the family as he didn’t like having visitors in the house (apart from me and a small number of others) as he had a catheter the last 5 years which he hated. My Dad was ill for more of my adult life than well and I feel it has only just hit me how unbearably sad i feel for him but selfishly also for myself as i feel i lost my Dad about 15 years ago. I can’t sleep and am overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and regret and dont know how i am every going to get past this.

Hello Kath, We all feel guilt mixed in with our sorrow when someone we love dies. Could we have done more? Should we done things differently? But the reality is that people with cancer and other life limiting illnesses chose the way that they feel is the right one to help them deal with their circumstances, and all that we can do is support them in any way that we can. And you did that admiably and with love. You have nothing to reproach yourself about, although you will feel sorrow that your dad was unable to live a full and rich life after his diagnosis, and during the years that he was still relatively well. Grieve for him and cherish all the good memories you have. Love him for being your dad. And don’t torment you yourself thinking of what you now feel that you could or should have done - I’m sure that he appreciated every single thing that you did do for him over the years. Jayne x

thank you. I don’t feel i supported him the way i should have but there is nothing i can do now. am trying to come to terms with it. x