Guilt, sadness, not coping

It is the anniversary of my Dad’s death this week. I am not coping at all and have been signed off work. My Dad had been poorly with his heart but died because of a twisted bowel. He had a fear of hospital. I promised him I would bring him home to die (he had been told he was end of life because of his heart condition) if he would just get into the ambulance to go to hospital for them to sort out his stomach. He trusted me. I meant it I was going to bring him home. Things went really quickly from there and despite conversations with people at the hospital saying if they couldn’t correct his twisted bowel he could come home with pain relief we ended up in a side ward because palliative care takes 48 hours to set up and he didn’t have that long. His death was horrible. I have never seen anyone die before. It was so distressing. My brother left. It was too much for my son who went for some time out but I stayed. I felt so powerless. He didn’t’ know what was going on he was so distressed. I feel I let him down. After he died I was kept busy with my job, my sons depression, sorting out the estate, looking after my mum had dementia. My mum then died. She went peacefully but again I feel guilt because of my feelings towards her. She was horrible to my dad before he died really vitriolic. She couldn’t help it, it was her condition. After his death she kept telling me how much she loved and missed him and I was never unkind to her but I felt an anger towards her. I feel like such a bad person. Everyone has moved on now. The estate is sorted, more or less. My son is in a good place which I a happy about. I was coping but now the least little thing is making me cry.

Hi there. First of all condolences on the passing of your Mum and Dad.
I don’t know if I can be much help as I’m going through a similar situation but want you to know I understand. I lost my Mum a year ago next month after she suffered a massive stroke. She was in hospital for 2 weeks before she died. I think you were very brave to stay with your Dad until the end, I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t bear it and left the ward. I now feel I let her down and wasn’t there to hold her hand.
Do you feel that time has either stood still or become muddled? I honestly think I’m going mad, I don’t know what time of the year it is and forget things I’ve done. I went to the grave last Sunday and by the evening I couldn’t remember if I’d been or not. I’m very sensitive and cry a lot. Some days are better than others. Have you had any bereavement counselling? I’ve just finished 6 sessions which has helped a lot.
I’m sorry for rambling on but that’s the way my mind is at the moment.

I wasn’t with my mum when she died. I had been with her the whole day before and went into work the next day because I didn’t realise she was so close to death. When I think about it I was just in denial. My brother was there and he said he didn’t even realize she had died. It was so quick. I feel bad and have very mixed emotions now about work. I am angry I went in and didn’t stay with her but in reality I don’t think she knew. I know what you mean about being muddled and time standing still I too am very sensitive as well so many things are evoking memories and making me cry. In my job I can’t do that, I can’t go and have a moment I have to be present. Yesterday I was literally ushered out of the building because I arrived and was in floods of tears. It is quite bizarre for my colleagues because I seemed to cope so well last year. I just got on with it. Came back to work only took a couple of days for funerals and when I was asked I just told people that work took my mind off things. Now all of a sudden I am crumbling. I spoke to my son about my guilty feelings and he said think of all the things you did for them when they were here. If they were to come back as a ghost and stand before you do you think they would say you let them down. When I think about that realistically (not the ghost bit) He is right. Your mum wouldn’t want you to feel you had let her down and I know my parents wouldn’t either. It doesn’t stop me feeling guilty though and that is more annoying because the rational part of my brain is telling me that but my heart is so heavy. I haven’t started counselling yet and I am waiting for my referral. It is nice though to speak to someone who has similar feelings so thank you.

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