How do I cope with watching my dad die

My strong, Kind, Funny dad passed away 4 months ago on 30th December. I am coming to terms with the fact I will never see my dad again but I am struggling terribly with how he died. He had dementia so I had kind of lost him a few months ago but I still saw him every day and he was still the lovely, cuddly dad I have always known and still so mild mannered. He fell in the garden in November and spent 3 hours on a concrete floor waiting for an ambulance so by the time he got to hospital he was hypothermic and had a broken hip and shoulder, he had an operation to stabilize his hip but never really got over the fall or anesthetic and were told he had days to live so we brought him home to die. I can not fault the care he was given in home by the carers and nurses but the few days turned into nine. Dad stopped eating or drinking and was double incontinent. I can not get passed the image of my lovely dad slowly wasting away, sometimes he seemed to be such pain, sometimes he seemed to be agitated and then sometimes he was calm and slept a lot. I can’t stop wondering if he knew he was going to die and if he was embarressed by his family seeing him like this. I try to remember dad as he was before the dementia but the only image that is in my head is the last horrible days before he died. Now that its four months on people seem to think I should be “over” this now but I can’t move past feeling guilty for watching him die like that. Is this normal or should I be moving on. I am sorry if my post is to graphic and upsets anyone but I feel I can’t share my thoughts with any of my friends or family.

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Hello Lyn, please don’t apologise it’s all part of your story and why you posted. I am pleased you did post because it takes courage to write about the last few days and weeks of your lovely dads life. Dementia is such a heartbreaking condition and we have no idea what is in someone’s mind with or without dementia. He may have been reliving earlier memories or anything, so please don’t worry about his reactions. Hopefully he would not know about his inconvenience. Many people stop wanting to eat and drink when they are near the end of their human body life which is hard for their loved ones to witness.
As far as getting over it, that is what people who have never lost a special loved person say. On this community we all know that getting over it is meaningless. Why would you want to forget someone special, why would you want to turf them out of your life? It really doesn’t make sense. You have lost some that meant the world to you and it takes time for some of those special moments to fade.
Perhaps a little help from a counsellor may help you and both Sue Ryder and Cruse offer free counselling and after what you have seen it may be appropriate, just a thought. Please be kind to yourself and take care. S xx


Hello lyn6

No need to apologise whatsoever.

My dad passed away on the 15th of January. I cared for him in the days leading up to his death - he had cancer of the lungs, and most probably stomach.

When you say you have these images in your mind, I do understand. They are traumatic, and very upsetting. Part of me thinks it is healthy to process what one’s mind is seeing, but for a limited time, and then focussing on something positive. I can’t think about it for long because I know if I do, I will go down a dark path.

As for being embarrassed, I don’t think our loved ones were embarrassed. I personally liken death to the process of giving birth. The experience I’ve witnessed is that it’s hard work, and is a real battle. But in the end, there is peace. There is no time to feel embarrassed.

I would also recommend a counsellor. I signed up for a grief counsellor and she helped me, only I wasn’t ready to talk about my dad yet, and we primarily spoke about my dear mum who passed away 18 months earlier. Again, the images stay in my mind.

Investigate whether a counsellor might be right for you. It helped me to overcome a few unhelpful thoughts I had about how I could have done more (I couldn’t have) and overall it helped me move in the right direction a little.

No, you should not be “over it”. I don’t think we ever get over the loss of someone so dear to us, especially in painful circumstances. Give yourself time, you will move at the pace that is right for you.

All I would say, is try to keep moving in the right direction. I feel I owe it to my parents to live a good, happy life, blessed with the love they gave me…so I try everyday to take small steps towards healing - whatever that looks like.

Thank you. your kind words mean the world to me x

Than you. Maybe I will speak to a counsellor in the coming months, writing this on here and reading your reply has already made me feel more at ease and comfortable with how I am feeling. So sorry for your losses but I think your positive atitude is brilliant x