Survivor guilt - tips on how to cope needed

I lost my beloved mum over two months ago now and such a lot went on with her health a year leading up to her passing. I did a lot to support her, take her to appointments etc, get second opinions from medical professionals, visit her regularly etc but I am still beating myself up that if I could have done this ONE thing, she would be here now. Basically I took her to a&e and they did some tests based on her symptoms but not one particular test that would have picked up the problem. This was picked up much later which had an adverse affect on her health. I am feeling guilty that I didn’t push her to go back to a&e for further tests a week or so later or even searched her symptoms online. Had I done so, maybe she would be here now but I am not medical and I trusted a&e to make that call. I wish I hadn’t trusted them now because I am in so much pain from losing her and and struggling to enjoy life, plus I have a little baby and it’s meant to be a happy time!!

My question is, how on earth do you deal with this kind of guilt? It’s not just time surely? Whenever anyone close to me reassures me, I don’t take it in, I am stuck with this guilt. Any tips greatly appreciated.


Hi there. I lost my mum in May. I was devastated. She was everything to me. Had been with her 50 years. She moved to a home 14 months ago because I simply couldn’t manage her any more. She begged me not to send her away and it broke my heart. But, you sound like you did everything you could for your mum, so don’t beat yourself up about it. I felt like that too at the start. It’s the guilt. I developed a cold at the beginning of May (think I picked it up at the nursing home) and didn’t visit mum for a week (I usually visited every day). I felt awful, wondering if she would be worried where I was.
Unfortunately she had caught the cold and the staff didn’t really get the doctor in, unless I pushed for it on a Monday. By Tuesday when the doctors prescribed antibiotics, my mum wouldn’t take them or be able to swallow. I still beat myself up because her oxygen had dropped to about 84% and I think she was basically struggling in the last few hours. I keep feeling guilty that I didn’t push and push and that if she had oxygen sooner she could still be here today. The doctor actually wanted to send her to hospital, but she was just too frail.
But we do everything we can for them. It’s not your fault. Not be hard on yourself. xx


With grief comes guilt and the ‘ if only ‘

I was In work the day mum passed, my sister had gone home , my brother went downstairs to make a cup of tea so we all carry guilt but the reality is a consultant from the hospice and a McMillan nurse & the doctor had all seen her that day. The Doctor phoned me the day after to say she was shocked.

I’m trying to take comfort from she went on her terms & that she didn’t get to the point where she knew as she had end of life care in place

The guilt still creeps in & it’s a constant battle and it’s overwhelming at times but I am taking comfort from she left this world knowing she was loved

I hope you hold onto special thoughts when the guilt takes hold :heart:


There is only so much we can do and we have to accept other people also have agency. Your mum didn’t push to go back either. I wish I had done somethings differently with my sister but I also know I did a lot, and when I was looking through my diaries I had been to see her more often than I first realised. In the end we have to allow ourselves to be human, to accept we did what we could at the time. To quote Maya Angelou ‘When we know better, we do better’ and we can only know better with experience and hindsight. I think the guilt is normal and maybe instead of seeing it as a negative, could you see it as part and part of grief? I think everyone pretty much has a list of the ‘wish I hads’ which means we care enough to have wanted to do more. SO see it as part of your love for her and don’t create a new list of the wish I hads with your new family either, to quote some one else ‘don’t lose what you have over what you have lost’. It doesn’t mean you love your Mum any less. It just means you stop beating yourself for having done the best you could! X x