My mum passed away very suddenly 2 years ago.
She had been unwell for a number of years - Multiple heart attacks and strokes (one which left her blind), and COPD. She became housebound for the last couple of years of her life - i think it was due to fear of having an attack in public.
My younger brother and I lived with her and cared for her as much as she would allow us to (she was both proud and stubborn)
On the day she passed, i got home from work (i had started a new job the week before) took one look at her and it hit me how poorly and frail she looked laid on the sofa. I had to go to the kitchen so she didn’t see me cry. My brother agreed to get the doctor out the following day.
We sat with mum as she laid on the sofa and we chatted. We were mid conversation with her when she tensed up for a second and then she stopped breathing. My brother and i got her to the floor and i started CPR (i had first aid training) while my brother called 999. She was just so frail…i could feel her chest collapse with every compression. We carried on with CPR until the ambulance arrived. They took over but she could’nt be saved.
I still feel so incredibly guilty…Did i do CPR wrong or too hard? Did i cause damage that meant she couldnt be saved? Did she die because of me?
I have nightmares and flashbacks about it. I know i havent allowed myself to grieve for her properly because im scared of falling apart. The pain is still as raw today as it was that day 2 days ago.
Sorry for the long post. I think i just need to get some of it out of my head
I’m so sorry to hear this, that must have been so traumatic for you. My husband has recently filled out a DNAR (he has terminal cancer and is only 43) and something the palliative care nurse said stuck with me; the heart stops for a reason and usually that reason is irreversible and no matter what you do it won’t have a good outcome. This was all said weeks after he’d made the decision, it wasn’t to convince him to have a DNAR.
It sounds like your mum was very poorly and you should be so proud of yourself for caring for her. It’s an incredibly hard emotinal job and only those of us who have been there truly understand.
I really hope the (normal) grief feelings of guilt pass for you soon. In the meantime, please consider counselling. You probably have an element of PTSD Xx
I really felt for you reading your post.
You must not blame yourself. You should give yourself credit that you tried to save your mum and you were with her in her final moments. Doing CPR is not easy and is very scary I can imagine, especially on someone who is frail. My sister did CPR on her father in law but it was too late. In a lot of these circumstances where someone has a heart attack or cardiac arrest, often there isn’t anything anyone can do and it’s usually very quick.
My mum was also frail and very poorly with a lung disease and I lost her in April. I couldn’t believe how I’ll she had become over the last year and I completely understood your comments about going out of the room to cry when you realised how poorly she was, I was also there earlier this year. It’s all very stressful and PTSD inducing. Happy to chat if you would like, this is a very supportive forum.
Never feel guilty. You did everything for her. She was elderly and frail with obviously a lot of health issues, like my mum had. I remember a few years ago when Macmillan came for a chat with me and my mum and they asked my mum questions about whether she wanted “quality of life” or “quantity” and loads of other questions, and bless her, mum didn’t have a clue what they were talking about and just would look at me to answer for her. I also signed the DNR (do not resuscitate). They said it was in mum’s best interests, which I believe it was. Believe me, doing CPR is the final thing you want to be doing on a very elderly lady. I’ve been told that the sheer force that they apply pressure can be enough to break bones, and if they do then survive, they may then have life-changing injuries or be far worse than they already were. I am sure you did everything you could and never ever regret anything. Clearly her time had come and I’m sure she would have just been released from all her enduring suffering. The fact that you were chatting with her and then she took a final breath, imho is a lovely way to depart. That is a blessing I truly believe. xxx
Thank you all for you kind words and advice Its comforting to hear from people who understand and who have gone through similar experiences. I will definitely seek out counselling
Please don’t feel guilty about anything bec you did everything you possibly could for your mum.It is only natural to feel guilty about his that and the other as we all do. Hold your head up high and just think you did your utmost for your mum and she knew you did.
Thank you Deborah.
I really hope she does know that i tried and how much i loved her. She was my world x
Sjay88 I too lost someone 2 years ago. My son had sudden cardiac arrest and I had to give CPR and the guilt comes back still and overwhelms me. The operator just told me to pump his chest and it wasn’t until I screamed he was blue that I was told to give him a breath. Did I press hard enough?should I have given him breaths from the start?should I have talked to him instead of counting out load as I was told to by operator? They kept him alive on a machine for 2 days before turning it off which was awful. My doctor said there was nothing i could have done and only something like 2% outside hospital arrests survive. On tv though nearly everyone seems to survive with CPR , I think it gives a false sense of hope because I thought he would be alright when they took him to hospital. I think guilt is the worst thing to deal with , missing them is bad enough but thinking you could have saved them just adds to it and prolongs the pain. The rest of the family seem to have moved on as they don’t carry this level of guilt . I understand your pain and distress and maybe it’s just a matter of time until we accept we did our best, we loved them and we did our best that’s all we could do. Take care Jess
Im so sorry you went through that Jess. I understand your pain and the feeling that everyone seems to have moved on. I hope we both find peace someday. Im here if you ever want to talk