Guilt

I lost my wife of 51years last Christmas Eve, she was in intensive care and on life support. At 5.00pm I was told there was no hope and they would be switching off the equipment when I was ready. The family arrived, my son, daughter in law and my 2 grandaughters one 20 and the other 18. After our goodbyes around 6.30pm I came away with them and now I feel guilty for not staying till the end which was around 9.39pm. The second thing I cannot get out of my mind was not visiting her in the Chapel of rest as the undertaker said that the hospital had done her no favour, and would advise remembering her as she was. I am lost and cannot turn the clock back, but at the time I thought I was doing the right thing.

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Hi. vivahc. Welcome. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. When you talk about guilt you say ‘I thought I was doing right at the time’. Now there you have the answer to guilt. ‘At the time’. When such sad thing happen our minds are in turmoil. You could say that most of us act irrationally. There can never be any blame attached to our actions ‘at the time’. Yes, when we look back we can all say I maybe could have done better, but hindsight can be a cruel and a hard taskmaster.
We should not judge others, neither should we sit in judgement on ourselves. I think the undertaker was right . We need to remember our loved ones as they were, and in my belief, still are. In the words of the poem for the war dead. ‘Age shall not weary nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them’. That can apply on a personal level.
Try and be kind to yourself and others who mourn with you.
Very best wishes. John.

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Hi vivahc
I’m sorry to read about the loss of your wife last year.
I just wanted to say that my lovely, vibrant and active mum who was 74, suffered a massive stroke on the 13th june 2019. Within a few hours we were told that she would probably not last the night and if she did, the machines would be switched off the following morning. I decided from then on not to see my mum or sit with her. I do not believe she would have wanted me to sit and watch her final hours or for anyone to sit and watch her die. I left the hospital and never returned. In the end she finally passed at 6.30 pm the following day.
I chose not to see her in the chapel of rest either. Again I know my mum and I dont think she would have wanted me to see her like that.
My last memory is of her the day before she died, happy, laughing, joking and talking about our holiday that was coming up in a few weeks.
You made the right decision for you at that time and should try not to regret it. I do have the occasional wobble, but I am sure that I made the right decision.
Cheryl

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Hi John Thank You for your kind words what you say makes alot of sense I will try to take your advice. Best Regards Alan

Hi Cheryl I understand what you are saying and perhaps you are right, but I just think that maybe it would make things a little easier at this point in time. Best Regards Alan

I understand. I’m not sure anything would make things feel easier for us. You have the anniversary approaching and it’s at xmas. What an awful time for you.
My mum died on her 50th wedding anniversary. My dad had already been gone 21 years dying suddenly aged 53.
It used to bring me confort that my mum died suddenly on that date but it doesnt anymore. Nothing does.
I am convinced though that my mum knew nothing within minutes of her stroke and that she would not have been aware of anybody by her bedside.
Take care x

Hi vivahc,
the last sentence of your initial post says it all. At the time you thought you were doing the right thing. Faced with the prospect of watching your wife of 51 years pass away I don’t believe it is possible to make a decision which at some point in the future wouldn’t be questioned. If you had stayed longer with your wife the same very sad outcome would not have been different. The same goes for viewing a loved one in a chapel of rest. To some people it is a necessary part of the grieving process and leads to ‘closure’, whatever that means. For others it is too painful to do. It is an individual decision but often influenced by others’ expectations. My father died in June 2019 and seeing him in the chapel of rest gave my mum, my sister and I a sense of acceptance as he looked peaceful and just asleep. By contrast when my husband died suddenly last November, visiting him in the chapel of rest left me feeling completely disorientated. Subsequently, neither his funeral nor collecting his ashes eased the overwhelming sense of unreality.
How we die or when is not something any of us can plan to the last detail. I am tortured by the fact that my husband died suddenly while out with our younger son. If the worst had to happen, why wasn’t it me who had to face something so awful rather than our son. By the time I arrived at the hospital my husband had been dead several hours (I was away at the time). In my irrational moments I think why couldn’t he have been kept alive long enough for me to be there to take his last breath. How mad is that ? But then who is in their right mind when reacting to the death of their soulmate?
The enormity of the decisions you had to make last Christmas Eve cannot be overestimated. To be married for 51 years is testament to your relationship with your wife. Whatever you had done you would be asking yourself whether it was the right thing. At the time it was.
You will find if you read other posts that it is not uncommon to question our reactions at what has to be the lowest point in any of our lives. You had a long marriage, the memories of which will one day hopefully ease the rawness of that final evening. I think that is what many of us hope for. Take care.

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Vivahc,
I’m sorry for the loss of your wife. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way regarding staying or going in the last hours. It’s just what feels right at the time.
I saw closed coffin in the chapel of rest, as my mother had passed away six weeks previously. I gained very little from it. It has just been an added negative thing to think about. An additional burden.
Take care

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Hi Cheryl,
The relationship you describe was the closest of close for a mother and daughter. In life you did everything you could for your mum and that is what matters. She could not have been more loved or cherished. You knew her better than anyone else and would have instinctively known what she would have wanted and so your decision not to watch her die or visit her in the chapel of rest was right for you both. There is no right or wrong way. It’s another example of convention putting pressure on people and effectively doubting what they know is right for them.
After the sad and far too early death of your dad your mum had your unconditional love and support. Sadly she too died too soon but she was well loved until the end of her life. You could have done no more. X

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Thank you jobar.
That’s a lovely post to send me. I think it just goes to prove no matter how much you love someone, how much you do for them in life, that these feelings of guilt persist anyway.
I hope you are bearing up ok. You lost your dad when I lost my mum but have had to endure the loss of your husband too since then whilst I have been lucky and havent suffered any further bereavement x

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My mum told me once never go to see her when she passes on. She said she saw her dad and it is an image she cannot take away.
My daughters went to see my mum when she passed they still have the image.
I did not go to see my husband for me it was just the body I was seeing he was not there. I wanted to remember how he was b4 the illness. Each person makes that choice. It doesnt mean you loved them any less. We do what we can with what we have at the time.

I visited my mum in the chapel of rest and I wished I hadn’t. My mum,I can literally hear her now telling me off “why an earth would you want to see me like that?”. And it’s true. Why an earth did I want to see her like that. It’s of course a personal decision. But when I saw mum. I realised it’s not her. That’s not my mum anymore.

I think if they advised you against going then that’s the right decision.

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Hi. Jooles. Of course it’s not them! It’s the shell of what was them in this life. What has therefore gone? Like any shell it once contained something. The warmth and personality of that person. The energy of that person. In the immutable law of physics it is said energy can’t be destroyed, it changes into something else that may, at the moment, be beyond our comprehension. I don’t talk about heaven or paradise because I have no idea if such places exist. But I am more than convinced that there is somewhere beyond this vale or tears where there is peace and unending love. Space and time have no meaning there. Shall we meet again? Of course we will, because our energy will follow our loved ones when the time comes. Love and best wishes. John.

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Yes it is a very personal choice. Some people need to have that goodbye.
I am glad I did not go and i would always make the same choice. But each to their own only we will live with the choice we make at any given time.

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Absolutely. When I walked in my legs nearly gave way as my lovely mums face was no longer smiley and sparkly. She had a lovely complexion when she was alive . Now what was in front of me was, sorry to be blunt. A dead person. A body. It gave my dad a lot of comfort to visit her. For me it did not. My Aunty couldn’t visit her daughter either . She just didn’t want to remember her like that.

Thank you John. You are very right. The minute mum took her last breath her essence left her.

Hi When Jenny was on life support I thought the same, she would not be aware of me being there but I was told to talk to her, just in case and as I said I wasn’t there at the end. x

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Hi Thank You all for your kind words, there are alot of caring people out there.

Hi there vivaha
I’m afraid guilt comes back to haunt most of us and we worry ourselves as to whether we could have done things differently. We are all over the place in the end and I don’t think there is any right or wrong way. I have known people that have said their goodbyes and left hours before their loved ones have passed away but it was their choice to not be there at the very end.
I was at home with my husband as he passed away. But still there is the doubt nearly two years on that I should have done or said something different. I was allowed to keep him with me for 10 hours and then chose not to see him again. I felt that he had left his body in his own home. I may be wrong but that is the strong feeling I had. The illness had ravaged him but I put pictures of him all around the house to remind me of what he really looked like. Handsome, tanned on holiday or on stage with his guitar. At his funeral I stared at the coffin, trying to make contact but he wasn’t there. I knew that immediately.
I would say to remember your dear wife as she would like to be remembered. You was with her for 51 years, a long time, she was more than aware of your love and still knows it.
Pat
xxx

Exactly a dead person. The undertaker asked would we like to see my husband. I said with all the best will in the world and i dont doubt your skills but you will not make him look like him. Honestly the moment they pass theyre gone. For me I felt it. But even if I didnt it was not for me.

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