Paralysing Guilt

I lost my daughter in February 2018. She was alone, in her little room at university, and nobody found her for almost 3 days.
She had been feeling ill, but there was a lot of flu around, everyone she knew was ill, and she thought that was what she had too. She refused to go to the doctors and she had a big argument with her friend that week over it (I only found out last year, and it brought a little comfort in an odd way).
She actually had glandular fever, and from that her immune system was weakened, and a bacteria which we all carry, grew out of control.
It entered her blood stream via her tonsils, formed a clot in her jugular (or both, they didn’t check afterwards) then spread through her body. She had hundreds of abscesses in her lungs.
On the Saturday morning she told the girl in the next room (via Snapchat) that she felt too dizzy to stand up, and the girl replied that it was just vertigo and doctors couldn’t do anything about that, But it wasn’t…she couldn’t get any oxygen.
She had been grumpy on her last day at home a month earlier, and I finally went with it and when she said she didn’t want a lift to the station to go back to uni, I just looked up, said “Fine. I’ll see you in a couple of weeks” and looked away. She looked so sorry and sad and I let her go and that was the last time I ever saw her.
Luckily she needed my help with something a couple of weeks later, and she rang me one night, so we talked then, and then again the following day, and we were fine.
I was supposed to drive down so her friends could come for a walk on the beach and met the dogs (I think I was basically just going to be the dogs’ chauffeur!) and I put it off because I had just started a job and the first month only got 2 weeks pay, and I didn’t want to get overdrawn. She I planned to visit her on the Friday, but the police came at 4.30 in the morning on Tuesday and she was gone.
I feel guilty about being alive, about not going to see her when I said, about lettering her go after we were grumpy with each other, about not making her go to see the doctor, about not surprising her with a visit, about not ringing her regularly instead of trying to let her be adult and find her way, about doing anything pleasant, about living in a pleasant environment, about feeling happy occasionally, about EVERYTHING.
I’ve had supposed “trauma therapy” which amounted to ‘when you get upset distract yourself with something’ which quite obviously has done nothing for me (and took 6 months of haphazard appointments to tell me), I’ve had bereavement counselling with CRUSE and have just started that again. I’m due to start an 8 week art psychotherapy thing next month, and there maybe something else I can try after that.
The charity that organised the art thing have told me I need to look in the mirror and tell myself I have nothing to be guilty about every day, but it’s so hard, and there’s a huge part of me that doesn’t want to…that wants to feel bad and struggle and have a miserable life because I feel deep down that I don’t deserve it and I should suffer because I failed my beautiful, funny, loving girl.
I miss her so much.


1 Like

Hello @Tracey1965, I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. Thank you for sharing a photo of Victoria with us - she was beautiful. I can hear how much pain you are in - it can’t have been easy to share this so openly, so thank you too for your bravery. It sounds like you have been trying so hard to find a way to cope with your grief; I really hope that art therapy is helpful for you.

I am sure someone will be along to offer their support, but I wanted to let you know that you have been heard and that you are not alone. Many of our members have experienced the loss of a child and felt overwhelming guilt, so can understand some of what you are going through. I wanted to share these two threads which you might be able to relate to, here and here.

I hope you find the community to be a support - take care and please do keep reaching out.


1 Like

Such a beautiful girl…. I’m so sorry for your loss… sending love x❤️

Dear @Tracey1965

I’m so sorry for your loss of your lovely daughter Victoria.

I’m sorry too that you’ve been carrying this guilt for so long. I get where you’re coming from, but the therapists are right, you really have nothing to feel guilty about. Your beautiful spirited daughter was her own person, independent, making her own decisions and way in life. There comes a time when even a mum cannot make her daughter go to see a doctor if she really doesn’t want to go, I think you probably realise this, when you discovered her friend tried to make her go, and she’d refused?

You only postponed your visit, and for a very good reason. I’m sure Victoria wouldn’t have wanted you to get into financial difficulty. You were grumpy with each other on her last visit home, and honestly that happens in the most loving families. But you had two conversations after that when obviously it was all water under the bridge. Even people who love each dearly can be moody and have off days. What matters is moving on, forgiving, being ok again afterwards. You did that, please don’t underestimate the significance of those last conversations the two of you had.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you say you feel you deserve to suffer and live a miserable life. I get that because I feel the same way about my mum, about not being more patient with her, about having to make decisions about her care that she did not like and upset her and, finally, about not being with her because of lockdown, because of choosing to obey stay at home rules. I’ve punished myself, and it sounds like you are punishing yourself. Please don’t, please let yourself know that you were doing the right thing to encourage Your daughter to be a strong independent adult, as any parent would want their child to be. I don’t think for one moment Victoria would want you to carry this guilt, or to suffer for the rest of your life. You certainly did not fail your daughter. You just loved her and were doing the best any parent could do by their child by giving her freedom and the space to make her own choices and decisions. Please don’t beat yourself up about things that were not within your power to control.

Therapies and counselling may help, but they’re not a panacea. They give us support, a safe place to grieve, cry, be honest. They’re useful I think, much needed, but also can only do so much. Please take anything that’s offered though, as many times as permitted. I’ve started with an art group too. It’s just good being with others who are grieving and worried, but doing something enjoyable and new.

I hope it’s ok to have said these things, I just recognise what it’s like to feel we deserve to suffer. I know it makes no sense to blame ourselves - we wouldn’t blame another person this happened to - but I also know how hard it is to believe that we ought not to and, if our loved ones were here, it would upset them to know that that’s what we’re doing.

Sending you much love and hoping you can eventually free yourself from the need to suffer and find comfort in happy memories of Victoria and the love that those last phone conversations between you revealed to be so strong and unbreakable.


1 Like

Hi Tracey, so sorry to hear about your loss. I lost my daughter tragically in January. I go over and over the events on that day and her whole life looking for some kind of way to explain the unexplainable. My sensible head says what I think is the real truth - that nobody is to blame. My heart says somebody must be to blame and I’m her mum so it must be me. She had mental health problems and I feel that must be my fault too. Sometimes I feel that if I stopped feeling guilty that would be letting her down. Mums feel like this because we love them. I’ve been coming on here for a few months and honestly, this seems to be what most mums think when they lose someone they brought into the world. I think that it’s a very rare mum who isn’t traumatised by what’s happened. It seems that being traumatised is ‘normal’. Despite the pain being absolutely heart wrenching and the yearning and the guilt feels heart ripping, it’s normal. It doesn’t mean that you deserve it, it’s how the mind behaves when overwhelmed with powerful and painful thoughts and unbelievable realities. If you didn’t love your girl so much you wouldn’t feel guilty. Also what is easy to forget is all the good things you did for your girl. No one is supermum. No one gets mothering 100% right, we’re only human and when we lose that so so important person we look for moments we didn’t get right and blame ourselves for the loss. On my better days I know I did the best I could and sometimes didn’t get it right. At the core of it tho you loved your girl and she loved you. Who wouldn’t be traumatised by all that’s happened? I always think it sounds a bit soft, especially the way your are feeling right now but be kind to yourself If you can. Nobody wanted this to happen and nobody deserved it, especially not you. Sending you every kind wish xxxxxxx


Thank you so very much for your thoughtful and helpful words. Now I’ve admitted that’s what I’m doing, maybe there will come a point where I can do something about it. Still feeling very raw and don’t think that’s ever going away, but I know you are right.

Thank you again,



Dear Tracey, I am so sorry you have lost your beautiful girl. I too lost my daughter in February 2018.
Please don’t feel guilty and I know I and others can tell you that but it is so hard to believe ourselves. I think we are conditioned to feel guilty and bad about ourselves.
If your daughter had not become ill, you would not be feeling like this. You had loving conversations with her after she went back and as someone else said, she would not have wanted you to get into debt.
We all do the best we can and all have grumpy times with our children. But that doesn’t mean we stop loving them or caring about them. You sound like a lovely, very caring mum to me and I am sure that Victoria knew that. Sending you a big hug xxx


Hi Tracy. Guilt is my middle name … I feel guilt every day since I lost my son Guilty for having an injunction : guilty that I hadn’t seen him fir months: guilty for allowing his girlfriend to ruin his funeral : guilty for him using drugs … but I try and challenge my thoughts because I know deep down I have nothing to feel guilty for but still I allow it to sneak in. After a traumatic event as losing our children our mind gets scrambled with all the negativity and it’s easier to believe it especially when we’re broken hearted. I’ve had cruise counselling and it was helpful but I think I need it again Since I lost my son I have such anxiety which devastated me Grief is the hardest thing to deal with

Try and remember that you did make amends on the phone : that your daughter was an adult and chose herself not to seek medical attention: Art therapy sounds interesting. I think I need to join something fir me and zac I’ve got 3 girls and I do lots of things with them but I want something for me and Zac

Take care and try and be kind to yourself Xx

Hi Tracy - I’ve started to think that we think we have more power than we actually do have. It’s really not possible to keep our adult children safe 24/7. Nor can we control their behaviour, we can only try to support them while not forgetting we count too. You’ve had the biggest loss and and no one is to blame. I’ve been struggling with guilt since my daughter died, still am, it’s hard to get from understanding that it’s not my fault in my head to feeling it in my heart. It’s early days and you are in deep grief and probly exhausted too. Also it’s not just grief for mums and dads it’s trauma… That’s a big deal and makes it all a great deal harder. It also makes us tend to be really, really hard on ourselves, just when we need and deserve some peace to start to slowly, slowly pick ourselves up and start to see their is still some good in the world. We can’t have them back but in a way we honour them by somehow, over time, beginning to find some strength and peace for ourselves. We will always love them and that won’t change. Sending you hugs xxxx

1 Like

My son passed away at the end of May and it’s only now that I have this overwhelming feeling of guilt.
He was severely disabled and had a life limiting condition, however I suddenly feel did I do enough and did I do the right things for him during the last few months.
I spent most of yesterday in bed crying this is the worst I’ve felt since I lost him. I also had a letter yesterday for him from the wheelchair clinic even though I let them know and they’ve had his wheelchair back, it couldn’t have come on a worse day for me.

1 Like

I think guilt is part of this horrible life that we have been dealt with, from your previous posts you sound like an excellent, caring mom, who loved and looked after your son in a fantastic way, it’s easy for me to say don’t feel guilty but I know it’s not that easy, I feel guilty for still being here when Scott isn’t, this is an unbearable pain which like you I think just gets worse every day our sons are not with us, love and hugs xx

1 Like

Hi Dee, thank you for your kind words it means so much. I just don’t know why this came over me like this yesterday, I suppose there is no answer and this is just how it is. I feel a little better today and have at least got up and had a shower. I’m going to try and go for a walk hopefully to clear my head. Just hope I don’t bump into anyone who wants to talk. I know people mean well but they don’t understand the pain we feel.
Thanks again it definitely helps talking to someone who knows exactly how it feels.

Hi reet, I’m glad you’re feeling a little bit better today, I’m the same regarding bumping into people, if I have to go out I try to walk with my head down so I don’t see anyone, when they start talking about Scott, I get upset but if they talk about routine things in their life, I want to shout that maybe their life has continued but mine has ended, so I guess they can’t win. You are right that nobody understands this pain unless they have suffered it, :broken_heart: