Lost my mum while on holiday

Hi Everyone,
I’ve been lurking around these forums for a few weeks now reading lots of stories. Lots of what I read resonates strongly with my own feelings and experiences and this seems like a place that people really ‘get’ one another. So a big thank you to all of you who are grieving but still able to share your stories and help others.
Unfortunately, I’ve started on a journey I didn’t ever want to now that my mum has gone. This journey is full of pain and me beating myself up and repeating the last week of her life in my mind. Every Thursday seems like a rerun of the day it happened and I count the weeks that go by almost like some obsession. I really don’t know if it’s healthy to think like this. Today is exactly 2 months.
She died on the last day of our holiday. Every year we go to the Isles of Scilly for our annual family holiday which included my wife, daughter and my mum. It was always the highlight of our year and I liked having my mum along as she loved going to the islands, they made her very happy to be there and she would also be a lovely caring grandmother spending quality time with my daughter. This year was no different and there was lots of excitement about going and all the packing to do. It was always an adventure travelling there even though it’s in the UK. During our holidays we would even make plans for the next one and what we’d do differently. Scilly wasn’t the only holiday she would come on. Back in March she came with us to France on our skiing holiday, not to ski but just to enjoy family time and mountains. She loved it all.
All that came crashing to an end though on the last day of our holiday when I woke up as normal and only after doing the washing up from the night before in our self catering cottage did I discover that she was sat up in bed with breathing problems. By the time the medics arrived, it was all too late and I basically had to watch my mum die in front of me. 40 minutes of CPR did nothing to bring her back. I didn’t watch as she was carried out after I had my time to say goodbye with her. Visions of that morning still haunt me like some sort of punishment for my failure to stop this happening earlier. I say earlier because she had been diagnosed with angina earlier in the year and had medication. The problem went away so we thought but she was complaining about chest pains and being out of breath during the holiday. She just took things easy and said she would see the doc again once she got back and get it sorted out as it was the angina coming back. I accepted this and never dreamed for one moment that it would end this way so suddenly. I now feel really horrible that I didn’t force the issue at the time to seek help earlier. I and she have now paid the price for my own stupidity. How can I be that dumb?
It was absolute hell getting home from there. The PM revealed she had heart disease and that was the cause of death. The coroner even told us that her own doctor had thought she was improving. It probably wasn’t fixable at that stage but I can’t help but think that maybe it was? I guess I’ll never get to find out.
So here I am today. I have all the stuff she bought while on holiday, books, souvenirs, gifts and a calendar for next year. She has been deprived of the future she was looking forward to. I still have her bag of all her holiday gear, I can’t bring myself to unpack it all at the moment. It’s like some sort of bad dream and the only way I can describe to people is by saying that it all makes sense and doesn’t make sense at the same time.
A horrible kicker on that awful day was that some of her last words to me were to mention that her card and present were in the corner of the bedroom. That card and present was for my 10th wedding anniversary which was that same day 29th August. There’s no way I can celebrate our wedding anniversary ever again now as that just seems just far too wrong.
I have good moments when I think I’m doing ok but then I have lots of horrible times most of which I suffer on my own. Nobody else really realises or has any appreciation for what’s going on in my mind every single day. It’s like a prison. I’m back at work and thankfully it’s home based so I can fall apart whenever I need to. I do struggle to stay focused though.
That’s my basic story although there is much more including how this has affected my dad who is in a care home and who I’ve only known for one year. My mum only met him for the first time since 1972 just before our holiday. Life is cruel sometimes and I’m devastated. She lived about 100m away so would come round our house all the time and do babysitting duties at last minute notice. I would go out for walks with her, send her messages about mundane stuff, go to the shops with her in my car and she would help me out on our allotment. So many things and so closely integrated into our family life. All that has ended abruptly and I’m finding it hard to adapt.
I’m here to listen and contribute when I can. I really feel for all of you out there and it’s plain to see that grief is shared by so many. I hope my message has helped in some way although I can’t see how as it’s so depressing!


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Hi Shaun. I would really like to send you a detailed thoughtful reply to your post about your wonderful mum. I’ve just got in from work and didn’t want you to think no one had replied. I read your post this morning and thought about it all day. It’s just awful losing our mums eh? Just the most horrendous pain with no end in sight. My mum died on 26th August so around the time you lost your mum. I’ve no words of wisdom but you are certainly not alone. I’ve just got in from work. Tried to fight the tears at work and I sobbed all the way home. Really thinking of cancelling tomorrow’s work as I work with children and it’s hard to put on a brave face and have a clear head

I replay mums last days too and that last breath she took with her face bone white not my mums lovely kind face. I recoiled in horror she didn’t look peaceful she looked so unlike herself that I ran out of the room after I hugged her and kissed her neck I cried “goodnight mummy” then I ran out. It flashes into my head at any time of the day. Her last sighs and moans as she died. Me holding her hand with my head on the bed just watching her wishing it to be over for her so that she wasn’t terrified anymore. She was so terrified.

Hi Shaun,

I’m so sorry for the sudden loss of your beloved mum. Joules and I talk all the time and she knows my story well.
My mum who lived with me and my 12 year old daughter went in for routine surgery on the 13th june. Mum was coming to our annual butlins holiday a few weeks later and as she walked down to the operating theatre I joked with her that she would soon be enjoying a glass of wine and packing for butlins.
Mum was looking forward to getting home and had left her bedroom in a right mess saying she would sort it when she got home. There was a bit of an argument between the surgeon and the anaethatist over mums agreement to have a local rather than a general anaesthetic. I started to cry and mum said dont cry, I will be back home having a cup if tea with you tomorrow. As mum walked away I felt the most sick I had ever done and I didnt know why.
4 hours later i got a call from the surgeon telling me that mum had suffered a severe brain bleed 15 minutes into the recovery room. Mum never regained consciousness and died the following day. It is nearly 20 weeks and I am a shadow of my former happy, jolly self. I have lost my best friend, my flat mate, my baby sitter, my protector.
The house is so quiet and I just stare at mums bedroom and living room in disbelief. Mum had been such a large and vibrant part of our life.
Mums postmortem revealed advanced heart disease if which we knew nothing. She never suffered angina pains or breathlessness and we wrongly thought mums heart was stronger than any of ours. There was evidence of a historic heart attack on the report.
As for how you begin to deal with this, I can only tell you what joules and I discuss. One day at a time, taking baby steps until life is bearable again. I have no idea how long this will take.
I took a long time off work too but went back 4 weeks ago and it is helping being back and trying to get one aspect of my life normal again.
This site has been a life saver so please come back and chat anytime you need to.
Cheryl x

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Hi Joules and Cheryl,
Thank you so much for your replies. I have seen some of your other posts on here over the last few weeks and reading your stories did wrench my heart although at the same time made me realise that I’m not alone in experiencing and feeling the way I do. I am so very sorry to hear you are going through this too and I know this is the way life is, but it doesn’t make it any easier to bear.
One of the things we don’t really talk about in general is death and certainly not the way people die. Not wishing to upset anyone but one thing that really struck me hard was the realisation that having a good death is not common and the actual act of dying is not pleasant. It wasn’t nice for either me to watch or my mum to experience it. Her other last words were ‘I’m going to die’ and those words now burn me. Even in the final minutes she had the thought to remind me of her anniversary present to us. That’s how she was, thinking about others and especially me. I still have that card, the last one I’ll ever get, wishing us a happy anniversary. Took me two weeks to open it. The holiday cottage was quickly filled with medics and eventually the police. After some time, they all left and took her away and the cottage became empty and quiet, just like that. I went for a walk that afternoon with my wife and daughter and I have no idea how I got through that day, probably in shock but I can honestly tell you that the surrounding cliffs did look mighty inviting. No way I could do that however and I was scared for some time admitting to family what my darkest thoughts were. Thinking about doing something to myself and going through with it are two separate things and as I know now is a normal response to this trauma.
The other horrible thing about that horrible day was making some of the worst phone calls I have ever had to make including to my brother as sister. It was horrible to tell my Great Aunt too since she had just 4 months earlier lost her husband to cancer. The only way I managed to sleep that first night was down to sheer exhaustion.
CHD is a nasty killer and it appears that it doesn’t necessarily have symptoms until a lot of damage is done. At times like this I do think a lot about my own mortality. I aware acutely aware that life is fragile and I don’t know what’s around the corner. I could be in a small box in the next two weeks just like my mum is now at home. A box I can kiss but can’t hug.
How are you both managing day to day with work etc? You mention not going in today Joules? I know what you mean about a brave face, people see me and probably think, he’s looking better now, but I do suffer every sodding day. I work in my loft so I can suffer there alone. I do have an employer and luckily they have been very thoughtful and allowed me time off with pay. I had a very close relationship with my mum, a strong mother son relationship and she was physically close and highly integrated into our family. My brother and sister live further away so at least do not have to keep seeing her empty house. They say grief is the price we pay for love and I certainly feel I’m paying a huge price.
Love to you all,

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Hi Shaun,

It is comforting speaking with others who are going through the same thing as you are. Going back through your post I noticed that you berate yourself for not noticing how ill your mum had got and why you accepted that her angina was back and that she would see the doctor. These feelings of guilt are the same with me.
In the few days leading up to sunday 2nd june I noticed my mum wasnt right. Her left arm was hanging by her side and she was forgetting things. My mum ran the household and was so mentally sound it was out of character. I kept asking her but she would just say it was her rheumatoid arthritis that she was diagnosed with a year earlier. When mum lost balance when we were shopping, she said it was her vertigo that she had suffered from years earlier. I accepted all this and now feel so stupid. On Sunday 2nd june I said mum, somethings not right can I take you to a and e? She told me to stop treating her like a baby and ordered me to go to work. So I went.
Later that night mum was taken to hospital and they said she had suffered a mini stroke. They discovered a blocked carotid artery and sent her home to go back on the 13th June for the operation to clear it.
I torture myself with the fact that I could have got mum to hospital sooner and her mini stroke might have caused less damage. What was I thinking.
My partner says this would not have made a difference. He says her vascular system was so blocked around her heart and neck and her vessels in such bad shape that she was going to have that brain haemorrhage anyway.
The point is that I think guilt is a huge part if grief. You are feeling it, I am feeling it, joules is feeling it and I would imagine everyone suffering the loss of a loved one is as well. I think we need to focus on the fact that we loved our mums, they knew we loved them and we took them on holidays with us, gave them happy times and memories and made their lives richer.
I think I will always feel guilty but am trying so hard not to. We all have to die and get few stories are pleasant, you are right.
I am very grateful that my mum didnt know she was dying, or how bad her health was and that she had fun and good times right up to her death.
By the way, I’m the same with you about thursdays too. Today is the 20th thursday since I took mum for her op and she slipped into a coma. Fridays are hard too as we turned her life support off on the Friday.
This is a horrible tough time and we just have to get through it as best we can.
Cheryl x

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I’m sorry for your loss Shaun73. So many of us have been taken by surprise due to a loved ones unexpected death. My mum died just over a month ago. We haven’t had the funeral yet. My body still feels in state of shock, not as severe as the first week. My mum’s passing was totally unexpected. It feels unreal, but Mum not sitting in her chair at home feels very real. My Mum may have been neglected by the hospital, but if I think alone those lines I could go around them bend. She had pneumonia and they said they would probably release her home. She could hardly breathe. She had a massive heart attack, whilst I was not there. They brought her back after 8.3 minutes but she was breathing but the damage was done. I have no idea how long it took them to find her in that condition, as she was tucked away in a corner not hooked up to anything. I regret not fighting her corner one last time. I believe with proper care and luck she could have had a few more years. I regret not voicing my concerns about Mum to the hospital staff, but part of me thought they knew what they were doing. We are all much more fragile than I thought. No one expects to loose a loved one who was relatively healthy the week before! I’m sure the person who cares for a cancer patient or Alzheimer is equally as shocked when the time comes. There’s a half eaten packet of crisps sitting on Mums desk. I can’t at the moment bring myself to throw it away. It’s too final. When I’m in the house by myself. I talk to my Mum. There are things that i need to say to her. You are not alone, so many of us are struggling badly. There’s a child’s book on grief called “cry heart don’t break”. Somehow, we’ve got to look after ourselves and grieve. They certainly would not want us to get ill. Once again i’m sorry for your loss.

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I’m so glad I posted on here. Everyone is lovely and lots of stories are being shared. I know nobody can take away the suffering of another but it’s a comfort to know there are caring people out there who understand this stuff.
In my mind is a battle of two halves. The emotional side and the logical side. The logical side tells me what has happened and exactly why and also tells me I shouldn’t feel to blame or suffer guilt. The emotional side however, refuses to allow my logical side to have the last say. The emotional side tells me that I’m to blame and I’m guilty. The worst moment was on the long drive home from Cornwall to home in West Sussex. I had a voice in my head that for two hours on that journey kept repeating over and over in my head ‘This is your fault, you killed your mum’. I realise that the voices in my head were not someone else talking to me but simply me talking to myself but couldn’t switch it off. Totally illogical I know. Hasn’t happened again since.
Even when mum was struggling to breath I still didn’t think it would end this way. I thought, get the oxygen, get to hospital and she’ll be fine again. Even as I sprinted to get the defib before the first responder turned up, I didn’t think she’d need it. Fragility of life is serious stuff. I obviously didn’t take it seriously enough. True or not, that’s just the way I feel. We might all feel stupid but that doesn’t make us stupid people. We are are extremely caring which is obvious from our current suffering. Despite being so caring, we couldn’t prevent what happened - that’s my logical side speaking until my emotional side tells me I’m stupid again. It’s exhausting.
I mention that I got up on the fateful morning and went down and did the washing up. Why didn’t I check on her sooner, minutes count after all? My daughter was watching TV and I asked her after doing the washing up where grandma was and she replied that she wasn’t feeling well. Why didn’t my mum get my daughter to get me first thing? Could this have saved her?? So many whys.
I am grateful that mum was in a lovely place on holiday, enjoying herself with family. despite the ending. I guess it could always be worse and I’d often worry about something happening while she was at home alone.
Tomorrow is Thursday, 9 weeks, and that is when the clock gets reset and I relive the day again. This has got to end some time otherwise I might be going crazy.
Shaun x

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When my Mum lost my Dad she came to the wise conclusion that “he was getting old and there was nothing to be done”. I didn’t really believe her, but I realize that conclusion was a kindest for our own hearts. Somehow, I’m going to have to try and forget about where i thought I failed and her having poor luck in the end. Somehow, i’m going to have to think of it, as her getting old. If I can get to that stage it would be the gentlest decision for my heart. i don’t know whether it is possible, but I’m going to try. Unfortunately, like everyone on here, I’m going to have to go through the stages of grief. It’s all so sad and final.


I totally get where you are coming from.my logical head tell me the damage to mums arteries must have taken 20 or more years to get like it. My illogical head tells me mum was right as rain the day before. She carried 6 bottles of wine home from tesco as there was an offer on and we were building up a collection for xmas!
I also wonder why my 12 year old didn’t ring me and tell me that nanny was acting strange when I was at work. But I need to be careful not to blame her. Mum did all.my childcare up to the week before she died. She could have had a stroke or heart attack on any of those days but we thought she was in good health for 74!
She was landscaping my garden the month before.
I think sudden deaths are so so hard. It just doesnt sink in when someone has shown no signs of illness other than generic age related stuff and then, bang they are gone.
My dad had a massive heart attack aged 53 and died instantly. That’s only 5 years older than me. Is this what I’ve got to look forward to?

It’s good to know other people’s brains work in a similar way to mine and I’m not going crazy!
What you describe is ordinary life going on until it suddenly changes. That’s certainly how I’d like my own life to go up until the last but does make me wonder what’s around the corner. Sudden death is extremely hard for those left behind, I’m quite bewildered by it and still can’t quite accept it has happened. All death is hard so I’m not trying to lessen the pain of those forced to deal the decline of their loved ones over the course of several days, weeks or months.
I would never blame my daughter for anything, she is only 6. I would also never blame my mother for anything as she can’t answer back. Doesn’t stop my feelings and questions though.
My mum was 73 - too young in my mind - and I’m 46. The last 10, 20 years has flown by. Times like this do make me wonder about my own future!
I’ve re-evaluated what’s important in life and I am determined to make the most of life while I have good health. Having said that, I’m struggling to look forward to anything right now and wonder if I’ll ever be happy again and what will fill that huge void.
Next year, we are returning to the same place for a holiday but this time to scatter her ashes. Not sure I’m looking forward to it!

Hi Daffy123,
I read your post and kept nodding and associating with everything you wrote. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I don’t know whether getting past the guilt is going to be possible. I’m told things will improve although I’m not sure time is that great a healer. I’m going to try too as that’s what mum would have wanted - me to be happy. That was always her wish and it would pain her to see me so sad all the time.
We all have to go through grief I realise that now. No easy quick fix. Who am I to advise anyway. I talk a lot of nonsense these days!
If I really wanted to I could easily blame others for their mistakes. Why didn’t the doctor get here properly checked out months ago? Did the first responder turn the oxygen bottle on full? There are more questions but it doesn’t bring her back and just gives me stress.
Mum’s funeral was 2 weeks after she died and I thought at the time it was too quick. I had the sole responsibility of writing and reading the eulogy. That was tough as was going through images to use during the service including the last ever photo I took of my mum two days before it happened. That’s a very poignant image now as it’s taken from behind her sitting on the beach and depicts her gazing out to sea. i can only imagine what you are going through before the funeral. We are still clearing out her house and that is very tough. The small stuff is the worst, hand written notes, uneaten food, smells, slippers waiting for their owner to return, I could go on and on. I also talk to her especially in her house, and then I wait for a reply that never comes. I can almost pretend everything is normal for a few seconds, it’s surreal.
My thoughts are with you too.
Shaun x


I like the way you are trying to think and I have tried to do the same but mum was only 74 and at an olly murs concert with my daughter 3 weeks before she died!
Also my mum was the youngest of 6. Her brothers and sisters are still going strong and they are all in their early to late 80s
It all just doesnt seem fair but I am conscious that there are people on sue ryder who have lost children so I’m trying to be grateful.
It must be hard to know why your mum was left alone in the corner of a ward able up have a heart attack on her own.
The problem is that we believe medicebe is magic and it isn’t. If they knew of my mums health I dont believe they would have gone through with the carotid artery surgery and I want to ask why didnt they know?
Then I remind myself that without the surgery mum was going to have a massive stroke anyway and ultimately die. The operation was her chance at survival.
I think we have to try and believe that things happen for a reason. I try and believe that mum was saved from something worse. It doesn’t help my pain or answers my question though x

Hi Shaun I’m so sorry for your loss, like you I’ve read quite a few of the stories, its devastating losing our mum’s and for me the guilt is horrendous, I wasn’t with her when she died, no one was. But it did happen in the same way as your mum. My mum had a pacemaker so we did know she had problems but regular checkups sounded no alarm bells and she went off to bed after chatting on the phone that night, just like any other night. But woke in the night, breathless, pressed alarm but although they did try they couldnt save her. I didnt live near, and the guilt is enormous, lots of reasons for that. You sound lovely to your mum and she must have loved the life she had with you, who wouldnt want that sort of family life. When they are taken so quickly, I find, there is so much more to say, its never ending, I think if only we could have one more conversation…Its 2 years since for me but honestly it feels like just days. I just wanted to respond to your story and as others say, it takes time to move on.


When is your mums funeral daffy?
A month is so long. Mums was 3 weeks and 3 days afterwards and the waiting was unbearable x


Dont worry. Your brain is normal. My head has spun for 4 months.

I also switch between wanting to live really healthily to prolong my life yet wanting to enjoy myself especially with a drink, because what’s the point.
I scattered my mums ashes 2 weeks ago at a crematorium in south london near to where she grew up and spent her married life and it wasnt as bad as I had anticipated.
The hardest part of it all is just living without them. Not being able to ring her, not sitting watching tv with her, not going out for a good pub lunch together.
I had a cold last week and it sounds silly but all I wanted was my mum. Its little things like that that are the worst x

It’s in two weeks time, due to extended family not being available. It’s only a small gathering. Part of me has appreciated the slow approach to getting things organised because I felt so very shocked and still do to a certain extent. I’ll be glad when its done.

Yes I bet. X

Thank you for your kind words. Mum could hardly speak a full sentence when i left her at the end of visiting time. It was a major dip in oxygen, which caused her massive heart attack. If she had been hooked up to oxygen it might not have happened. If they had been monitoring her oxygen levels, it might not have happened. There were so many things that they didn’t do. Things which might have changed the outcome. She got the last bed in the hospital, which was very lucky, but no proper pillow just a rolled up blanket. There was another more serious issues, which I won’t go into. I could ask the hospital, why why, why, but the answer would probably either upset me or make me more sad and stressed. The ward seemed desperately understaffed. I do wonder if they were saving resources, as it was quite clear by both the paramedics who did not have certain items and the hospital that there had been cuts. I’m not knocking the nhs. I just think my Mum ran out of luck.
I can’t imaged what it must be like to go through a parents house and sort the belonging and personal stuff. I’d struggle with that even a year down the line. My guilt is terrible which is why I need to do my upmost to let it go. I’ve got a tribute to my Mum which is nearly 10 minutes long. I’ll have to reduce it. It seems we’ve all be plunged into a nightmare.

It is scary how short life can be. If I died at the same age as my Mum I’d have another 21 years! The words tomorrow is not guaranteed keep running through my head today. A rather gloomy thought. Your comment about loosing an anchor on a previous thread when our parents pass on has stayed with me. In a very positive way. Somehow, we have got to grieve but also not get totally swept away.

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