“It’s How She Would Have Wanted To Go”

Although my wife had undergone major heart surgery, an aortic valve replacement, she seemed to be recovering well, and so her sudden death just three days after coming home was the most awful shock.

I have tried to take some sort of comfort from saying that, at least, she was spared from a long, distressing, probably painful and possibly undignified path to inevitable death, which tragically affects so many. The only “advantage” (surely not the best word, sorry) of an expected death is that there is time to prepare, and say all the things that need to be said, and possibly put old grievances and misunderstandings behind us.

In the case of sudden, unexpected death you don’t get this chance, and may be left with overwhelming regret and guilt at things left unsaid.

Have I got this right ?

I realize that two of the dangers in asking the question are that, firstly, I run the risk of upsetting other contributors, and secondly that I may have what I see as a comforting prop knocked from under me.

However, at my stage (41 days since she died, three weeks since her funeral) I feel Ineed to ask.

Hi Edwin im very sorry for loss .No you dont run any risk because you are right ,ifs buts maybe definitely apply .Take each day 1 day at a time your nightmare is very new .The regret and guilty the phrase to this and your nightmare is how long is a piece of string .Try to take care of yourself Colin (im 59 my darling Denise passed on her 41st birthday 04032016)

Hello Edwin. I can strongly identify with your questions. My wife died 68 days ago and I have pondered the same things as you. If I ask what I would want for me regarding my own death I come out with different answers.
My wife was told that the median survival was 14 months after she had undergone surgery to remove a brain tumour. She then had to go through weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. As it happens she lived for over four years from then, although she had further surgery in August 2017 to remove regrowth. During all that time she lived under a cloud, knowing that she would die from the effects of Glioblastome but not when that would be. From my point of view I was obviously delighted that she lived so long, despite being under the cloud as well. It certainly gave fresh meaning to each day and for a lot of the time she had a reasonably good quality of life. I suppose I had four years to come to terms with the inevitable fact that I was going to lose her. Had she died suddenly that would have been a completely different scenario for me and I’m sure it would have wiped me out completely. There is absolutely massive distress in watching somebody die slowly but I doubt it is of the same magnitude as watching them die quickly with no advance warning. I’m grateful that I was able to devote myself to caring for my wife and to just be there for her when she needed me. I’m also glad that I was able to be with her at the end and that things were quite peaceful and she appeared to be comfortable and pain-free.
For myself I think I’d just pick the very quick exit and preferably in my sleep and without any prior knowledge that I was ill.
Over the past four years I was really scared that my wife would have a traumatic death. I worried she would be in a lot of pain and I worried about my ability to cope as her carer.

Hi I understand what you are feeling my partner died suddenly from a heart attack I still feel traumatised sudden death is so hard I have thought to myself would of it been any different if he was terminally ill I would be prepared then I think no it doesn’t matter how you lose someone we are all feeling the same so it’s natural to think that way.
Christine x

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I can understand why people ponder about this. My Husband was on/ off end of life care at hospital then discharged with “weeks” to live. I thought I’d have those weeks to make as special as I could. However, these weeks turned into just a few hours as he passed away unexpectedly a few hours after discharge. I was alone and scared. And that’s probably one of the major reasons that after 24 months I am unable to come to terms with events. It was both anticipated but sudden - a double whammy. Do I think it would have been better if it happened differently with hours of prolonged agony?, I don’t know but either way it’s still killing me inside. A thought-provoking post Edwin, I’m sending you compassionate thoughts.

Hi Edwin - I can identify with the situation you find yourself in. My mother’s partner of over 20 years (a big part of my life since I was 7 years old) passed away on 29 September. He had diagnosed heart failure from a cardiac arrest two years prior but he trundled along. About ten days before his death he was suffering with shortness of breath and was sweating profusely so he was taken into hospital by ambulance and he remained in hospital for 4 days. They discharged him with medication (diagnosed with pneumonia and atrial fibrillation so was given antibiotics and warfarin) and he was going back and forth to have his bloods checked for the warfarin. By discharging him that killed me into a false sense of security as when he was at home - even though he clearly wasn’t well he was eating drinking etc and I thought to myself well surely they wouldn’t have discharged him. A week after being discharged he died about twenty minutes after falling asleep. He was in the place he loved with the woman he loved and was in a lovely sleep. I think that’s probably the way he would have wanted to go, and I have to hold on to that. It’s difficult because I think I would rather die in hospital and it’s hard not to impose my own views on to what he would have wanted - he on the other hand hated hospitals so I have to respect what he would have wanted in order to be kind to myself and give myself some peace.

Hi Edwin. I understand where you’re coming from. My husband died suddenly five months ago while I was out of the country. Got the shocking news by phone from my daughter. For two months I was in total shock. I am finding it hard to process it all…the sadness of not going forward the way we’d planned, the effect on the family, the loneliness, life has become very pedestrian.
There surely isn’t an easy way to lose someone you love but the circumstances in which they die result in coping in different ways…and it’s different for every person.
It’s certainly a testing time and one has to persevere and be patient in order to get through the storm.
Hold on tight…the storm surrounds us but we become better sailors

Dear Annette . Your post hit it on the head for me . My husband died suddenly12 weeks ago at home with me and I am still in shock that he is no longer here and not coming back . My daughters are brilliant but they are still young and hopefully have exciting long futures ahead of them . I on the other hand feel lost and like a spare part without him . I keep going and I participate in family stuff and am quite heavily involved now in our family business but I feel like part of me has gone missing since he died and it is hard to keep going . Yesterday the only thing that kept me going and calmed me down was knowing that one day I will be buried with him in the local church . That sounds morbid I know but I think the thought is driven by fear . Fear that I cannot do this life without him and that one day I won’t have to and will be safe with him again . In the meantime I try to put my best foot forward every day . Make the most of my girls , my mum , my animals , my friends and my health . Big hugs to you . Romy xxx

Hi Romy your post really touched me. My mum lost her partner (not married but together for 24 years) suddenly on 29 September about 20 mins after falling asleep. I am an only child and to see mum in shock and desperation absolutely tears me apart. My mum isn’t well herself and so I relied on her partner to be with her so she wasn’t alone - he was my anchor. I feel like I have let mum down that I didn’t do more to save him, that she now has to go through this. I know deep down there was nothing I could have done but you still think ‘what if?’ - he had been in hospital the week before but he was discharged. Should I have pushed the doctors more? Should I have told them not to discharge him? Should I have made him go back to hospital? I just feel like I’ve let her down and it’s an awful gut wrenching feeling. We keep expecting him to walk through the door or ring - every time the phone rings I think is it him? The physical void is enormous and I’m so so angry that he had to go. I miss him so much, for me but mostly for mum. I know how it feels to see no future; even though some people on the outside may think I have things to live for and that I’m still young (in 29), i feel there is a big brick wall in front of me and I cannot see any way out. The depression I feel for my mum is deep and there is no way I can live my life if my poor mum is alone.

I am thinking of you and hope that we can all find peace in the months ahead xxx

Teacups . You sound like a lovely person . You couldn’t have done more to save him . People have to take responsibility for themselves and if your mum’s partner had felt he needed to go back into hospital he would probably have said . The unexpected happens as I know only too well with my husband . We can’t take responsibility for everything that happens in life and I am sure he would now want you to focus your energy on helping your mum and helping yourself . It’s only 3 weeks for you and your mum and the grief is awful . It’s physically and emotionally so painful that it is hard to keep going . It is hard to get your head around the enormity of the situation . The only way I get through the days is to split them up into morning noon and night and try to do something constructive during each part even if it’s some housework , some paperwork , some errand , some tv programme , some work or some time with my children or a friend . I feel worse when there is no structure to my day …and I try only to take one day at a time . Your mum will know that you feel for her and that you are struggling too and missing him terribly . Talk to each other when you want about him but respect each other when one of you can’t handle it because you might be having a particularly bad day . Try to spend some time with your friends doing ordinary stuff even if you think it won’t help . It probably will even if the grief comes flooding back after . Your mum will be pleased to see you doing stuff and you will have other things to tell her . Has she got friends who can support her so it is not all down to you otherwise the two of you might go under together ? I wish I had something more useful to say to you babes . My daughters are 30 ,25 and 21 . It is easier for them in some ways because they have each other whereas you are an only child . But I am an only child too and when my dad died of cancer when I was 34 …I am 58 now …my friends and work colleagues and husband were a great support to me and my mum . We are all in this together babes . Keep posting on here . There are some great people on here who will probably be able to give you better advice than me . But know you and your mum are in my thoughts . Big hugs to you both . Romy xxxxx

Thank you so much for your very kind and comforting words, Romy. I am so thankful for such kind people like yourself and others within this community. You have helped both me and my mum a lot today xxx

XXXXXXXXX

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Hi Romy. So sorry for your loss. It sounds as though you are battling so well. One day at a time. One hour at a time. The shock of losing your beloved is something you can’t prepare for. Loss of control…it doesn’t feel right, not to mention the grief. I find that realising that others have these emotions is a comfort, not that I would wish this on anyone. Keep taking strength from your loved ones, animals, business, you need them and they need you. Big hugs

Xxxxxxxx

Hi Edwin,
Sorry to read your story and you won’t offend people on here. Its your questioning of which way is best really interested me as it’s somthing that goes over in my mind but the opposite scenario to you. I lost my mum in December last year and had a two year countdown with a terminal diagnosis. Please don’t think either way is worse/easier as I think they’re both sad. I’ve had lots of people say to me, at least you had the chance to say and do things. But what many friends and family hVent realised is that yes we had the chance but everything was rushed, everything was said because of knowing the time limit, trips away and everything were always tinged with sadness because we were doing everything for a reason. I went out of my way to get more photos than I would have done before so I look at them now and think they’re not natural they’re forced because of the countdown. My mum passed quickly at the end with 10 days from walking and talking to passing. It was best for her this way but in some ways I do wish the last two years hadn’t been so tinged with a countdown. But then I see my friend who lost her partner with no notice and he passed instantly and the shock and devastation afterwards was immense. I think I’ve worjec out the differences now and I feel that the two years prior to mums death I was grieving and it was awful, since she’s passed although it’s been hell at times I think I’m more accepting of her death because I knew it was coming. Whereas my friend did t know it was coming and can’t accept it 3 years on. I suppose what I’m sayinv is that both ways are shocking but the two year build up or the build up with any terminal illness is hell but afterwards you can accept things a bit better whereas when it’s so sudden you are then forced to deal with shock and grief.

Does anyone else feel like this? Such an interring ask Edwin. Hope you get on as ok as you can, x

Hi Lucy999.
I don’t disagree at all with what you suggested. In my case I had four years notice that my wife would die. There was no If just a When, and the when was given as approximately 14 months. I was completely traumatised at the time and that wasn’t replicated to the same extent when she died in August this year. I would never say she was lucky but she certainly wasn’t as unlucky as most people who get a diagnosis of Glioblastome. We tried hard to make the most of what time we had left and it certainly sharpened things up in terms of how I valued her. Maybe I realised I had begun to take her for granted. It presented a great opportunity to care for her and actually show her how much I loved her. I don’t have regrets about things not said and I know how much she appreciated my devotion to her as her friends have told me since. I think my four children also are very appreciative towards me. Saying all that I miss her so much and feel so lonely without her. One thing that I know is that how she dealt with it all will continue to be a massive inspiration to me whenever I have to face adversity.

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I started this thread a week ago - it seems more - because I felt that I needed some help to rationalise my feelings about a sudden unexpected death sparing the deceased from a protracted mental and physical decline. Many people to whom I have spoken have expressed agreement, but then on the other hand, those who disagree might not be happy about articulating an opposite viewpoint to me at a time they know is difficult for me.

My late wife and I were involved with a family, close neighbours, whose 51 year old son, wife, and brother died earlier this year after a several years-long struggle with an awful disease which slowly, gradually, inevitably destroyed his body and means of communication, yet left his intellect intact. It was an enormous trial for all of his family and friends, and let it be said that his death was felt by many to be a release.

I’m sure that we must all feel afraid of something like this happening, but far more likely than a solely physical decline is the spectre of mental decline, Alzheimer’s and dementia. I have looked at a recent UK Government statistical paper which shows that Alzheimer’s/dementia is the leading cause of death amongst females in this country by a considerable margin. My wife was starting to show some behaviours which I feared might be the very, very early signs of dementia. Mind you, the changes were so gradual and so small that perhaps I didn’t notice them as much as somebody who had not seen her for a while.

We had a family get-together in August for a family wedding, and our overseas clan (daughter, son-in-law and their two adult daughters) saw their Mum/Nanny for the first time in several months. Though nothing was said at the time, my daughter has now subsequently told me that she and her family had noticed changes, which seemed to them to be more pronounced than they seemed to me.

Let’s not go too deeply into the dreadfulness of dementia - the effects are too well known, and don’t need repeating. However, I do really think that her sudden loss now may really have saved her from something worse. I said as much in my tribute at her funeral, along with much else, and drew applause from a packed church, so it seems that others agree.

I haven’t noticed any references in this forum to loved ones who are succumbing/have succumbed to dementia, yet the statistics indicate that there should be many. Why is this, I wonder ? Those who love the sufferers need so much support for so long, yet it would seem they do not seek it here. Certainly not in the numbers that might be statistically expected.

Why ?

Hi Edwin . As you said , those who love the sufferers do not seem to seek support here and it is probably because dementia is a long process and carers have a long time to adjust to what is happening to their loved ones and the effects on their mental capacity . It seems from my time here on this forum that it is the more suddenly bereaved that go into shock about their loved ones death . Actually writing this down upsets me because I know that death of a loved one under any circumstances is devastating for those left behind but in answer to your question I would guess that having cared for a loved one with dementia over a period of years and watching them mentally decline would have a completely different effect on the carer and their subsequent experience of grief . I apologise if I haven’t explained myself very well , if I have offended or upset anyone but I am just trying to put myself in the position of caring for someone with dementia and imagining how I would feel . My own reason for needing the support this forum gives is the complete opposite . My husband was in full possession of his mental faculties , was strong and fit and his sudden death from a cardiac arrest 3 months ago at the age of 60 has left me , our children , family , friends , employees and customers in the local community ( we have a family business ) reeling . There is no time to adjust and we have all been plunged headfirst into a nightmare . Grief and sadness is not a competition though and I am sending big hugs to all of us however we have lost our loved ones . Their loss under whatever circumstances is the most devastating experience in the world . Rimy xxx

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Good morning Edwin
Thank you for your posts…I think those of us now facing the future alone tend to think more deeply now than we did when we were breathing alongside our loved ones. I live in a very rural area and have no transport and sometimes I get so frustrated that I am unable to be more proactive in doing something positive with my days but perhaps you are in a position where you can direct your concerns into real action? You sound as if you have a lot to give!
I wanted to add something…many years ago my then husband and I lost a baby daughter to cot death. Some weeks later I received a letter from my aunt’s vicar whom I had never met…in it he wrote that we shouldn’t wish Kathryn back because illness and possibly a painful lingering death might be her lot in the future…I have always kept that letter and found the words resonating over and over again since I lost Barry…I miss him every minute of every day but I would not have wanted him to struggle any more and endure a future which would destroy all that he was and so , when the tears come and I feel full of self pity , I repeat the vicar’s words over again and the trite phrase that if you really love someone you must let them go has new meaning.
It is very early days still for you and I hope the days ahead will be as kind as possible…I believe that everything happens for a reason even if we can’t see it and I hope so much that each of us finds a little fulfillment in whatever lies ahead.
Take care and keep posting…x

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hi Edwin
I lost my mom suddenly in February although she was 91 she wasn’t ill so her death was a shock . I found her in the kitchen as i couldn’t reach her by phone .
I know it is how she would have wanted to die with no fuss but I wish I could have been there.
agree different for everyone and no one wants to see loved ones in pain.
we were very close and we were lucky that she didn’t have dementia issues which is now a problem for at least 3 of my friends with elderly parents .
We just have to remember that our loved ones are at peace and they want us to be happy but easier said than done
best wishes
Eileen

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