I feel so guilty about my fathers death

Hello everyone.

It’s my first time posting on here, I lost my beloved dad aged 77 very suddenly this week due to a pulmonary emoblism and I can’t help but think of the “what if I’d just…” scenarios. I’ve tried discussing my feelings with my loved ones but they just don’t understand.

My dad only had me as a direct family contact, he lived alone for many years and was perfectly fine that way. He had kept busy with his work at a friends garage and would go to his local pub every evening for a few drinks, and we would see eachother every weekend, he was quite active. Then COVID hit and everything changed, we stopped meeting up for a time as I was worried about the virus (then later on, as my partner has OCD even when restrictions lifted I still had to balance his fears with going out) and dad started spending all his time at home and wasn’t exercising much due to arthritis. Every time I called to chat he’d always seem fine, ‘I’m happy in my own company’ ‘I’ve gotten used to it [my new routine]’. I did worry about him being isolated but was happy he was taking things seriously. When I did see him, he did look a little more doddery but I just attributed it to slowing down due to an arthritic knee, I didn’t think much more of it. I started helping with his cleaning a bit but other than that I left him to it and he never asked for anything. That’s my biggest regret.

Dad spent the last week of his life pretty much immobilised by a bad chest infection (which made moving very tiring) and an undiagnosed stomach issue that stopped him keeping food down, these symptoms were present for a few weeks (not that he told me) but suddenly became so much worse. I then stepped in and cared for him each day at his flat and started to realise that going forward he’d need some external help. I was going to arrange a physio to build his strength and a podiatrist for his feet. I felt upset that I hadn’t picked up on things sooner, but we were so careful to meet up only when it was safe because of COVID that I didn’t often visit his small flat. I know I was the bottleneck for this and he’d have liked me round more, but it was so difficult to know what to do. I just didn’t know how much the change in lifestyle, becoming more sedentary and less mobile/etc could effect him so much. Especially when he didn’t let much on.

Dad died that week of an embolism due to deep vein thrombosis, likely from being sat all day long unable to walk for the last week or so. I just feel that if I had been a bit more present for him during the pandemic and put a few things in place, maybe he wouldn’t have got such a bad chest infection, maybe his mobility wouldn’t have declined and he wouldn’t have got DVT. I could have prevented this all.

It’s a very lonely place being the only family member because I feel all the blame, there was no one else there to help make these decisions for my dad and I clearly didn’t do enough. I know I should focus on the good times and not on self-flaggelating and guilt but it’s still so raw.

First experience of grief and it’s absolutely horrific, if anyone has any kind words it would mean a lot.

Dear CF22,

From reading your post I ccan see how much you loved your dad. He must have been so thankful to have your company in the last few weeks of his life. I am sure that he would not want you to blame yourself for anything you think you did or did not do. What ifs are only making the grief more difficult. I assume that you are not a doctor or nurse, so how coud you have spotted that your dad had DVT? What happened is very sad, but I am sure it was not your fault. The whole Covid situation made life so difficult for those of us with elderly relatives. It was so hard to find the balance between keeping them safe from the virus and knowing when we could visit them. You also had to consider your husband’s needs.
Please be kind to yourself. Grief is hard and in the coming weeks you may go through a roller coaster of emotions. This site is a good place to share your feeling and to look for support. I hope that reading orher people’s posts and replies will bring you some comfort. xx Jo

1 Like

Thank you Jo for taking the time to read my entry and reply, it means a lot.

You’re right, and I am so grateful for the time I spent with him this last week, as I am sure he would have been too. Neither of us thought it was the end, and maybe that was a good thing.

I’m not a doctor or nurse, no, and even the health care people I spoke to in the week didn’t have DVT in their minds, from what I’ve read it’s quite difficult to diagnose.

I guess I just feel that the long haul COVID situation we’ve all been forced to live through has been so grossly unfair on so many, I naively thought that as my family and I had done well to avoid the virus so far and that the changes in lifestyle were only temporary we would resurface unscathed.

I’m glad to have found this site and looking through the posts has made me realised I’m certainly not alone in how I feel.

Lovely to share this with you, take care, Chrissy x

1 Like

Hi x firstly I’m so very sorry for your loss, I have been through similar in the last month and have also had the what if thoughts.

Like the other responder said, it’s obvious how much you loved your dad, and you did what you could. It will take time to cope with your feelings and in past bereavement I have had counselling which has really helped.

Just take each day as it comes and reach out. You’re not alone xx

Hi Tracy

Thank you for your kind words, I’m so sorry to hear that you are in a similar position and have lost your father recently too. I saw your post and can see his passing is one of quite a few important people in your life, you must be very strong to be able to cope.

I am 26 and this is the first real loss I have ever experienced, but being that I have an incredibly small family it does make it feel all that much worse.

Thankfully I am in a slightly better place already than the day I made my original post, but still on the rocky path of grief. I hope you too are managing to get by, if you ever need someone to chat with I am here.

Take care xx

Hello CF22

I lost my dad this week too and you echo many of my feelings and emotions. Although he died of Covid, he had been deteriorating over the months and like you, I had been unable to visit him in the way I would have usually done. I wish I’d spoken to his GP and pushed for some investigations. At the very least, I wish I’d seen more of him in the last few weeks. Now, like you, I’m just left feeling guilty.

I’m sorry that I can’t provide any answers, but I hope that it helps to know that you’re not alone.


Dear CF22,
I’m very sorry for your loss. You aren’t alone. I feel guilty as well about my father’s death, and nobody can calm me down, because I would like to hear from my dad: You did your best. My father had stroke december 2020 and since then I went with him everywhere, where he had to, and against the illnesses we were ‘fellow fighters’. Although I am not a doctor or a nurse, he called me ‘my little doctor’, so I feel guilty, that I couldn’t save him. I think my father’s result of postmortem examination is if it would be a messange from him to calm me down, you aren’t omnipotent. Because in the result there is rough metastasis cancer in a lot of place in his body. My father and we, the family didn’t know this. I don’t know, if I am trying to calm myself, or I really did my best, and my feeling (guilty) nobody understand in my family or somewhere. My heart aches for my dad.

Dear Apu

Thank you for your reply and for your kindness. I am so very sorry to hear you have lost your father too. I think we are certainly sharing the same feelings of grief and guilt. But please let me try to reassure you that your dad would have felt immensly loved and grateful for all that you did for him after his stroke.

It is only because we loved them so much and shared so much of our lives with them that we have these deep feelings, but giving love and care to the best of our abilities is all we can do. We are only human and even a doctor or nurse may not have been able to save them. I keep trying to remember this too, as I have spent time looking up the cause of my fathers death and it has a poor prognosis even with hospital care. In a way I am grateful we did not realise that death was approaching, as my memories of my dad up until the end feel just like normal. But it is all a terrible shock when it happens this way.

Please be as kind to yourself as you have been to me, for me it’s now been three weeks and through sharing my feelings with my family and the fellow grievers on here I have been feeling a little better already.

I have also been reading a book that was recommended to me, called “The Power of Now” by Ekhart Tolle, it’s not everyones sort of thing but it is helping me.

Take care and feel free to message me if you would like to chat x

Hi Pidg

I’m so sorry for your loss of your father, especially to this terrible virus that has caused us all so much pain. It is a comfort to receive your message and through this (and all the hours I have spent online reading other peoples accounts), I can see we are very much not alone in our grief.

Like you I wish so much I had been more hands on and started being the difficult daughter that’s always ringing up the GP, but you never expect the worst will happen. Plus COVID clouds everyones judgement on what the right thing to do is. We thankfully avoided the virus but my dad still ended up unwell . There really is no clear path for this time we’re living in, we’re all just trying our best.

Take care of yourself x

I was almost crying, when I was reading your kind sentences. I will read it more times again.
I am glad that you are being understood and feel comfort here.

I would like to write message to you, if I don’t disturb you.

1 Like

Hi Apu

There are some lovely people here to share with and it would not disturb me at all if you’d like to continue to talk, you can send me a direct message any time and I will pick it up and reply :slight_smile:

Take care!