What do I do about my feelings of guilt?

I lost my mum on 25th February. It was sudden and unexpected to a certain extent although I’d been back and forwards to doctors and specialists with her about a host of health issues she’d been having.

I just feel so overwhelmed by feelings of guilt. I feel guilty that I didn’t take her health worries seriously enough. I feel guilty about the argument I had with her just minutes before she died. I feel guilty about the day she died - she told me she’d been vomiting blood, we went to hospital together in the ambulance but then she was coughing blood and the doctors became convinced she wasn’t vomiting it and I think I let them dismiss my mum’s version of what was happening. I worry that I wasn’t quick enough calling the doctors to her bedside just before she passed away. Then there’s guilt for years of not appreciating her as a mum and having a difficult relationship with her. Just don’t know how to push through this today. Some days I can rationalise it all but other days (like today) I just can’t stop thinking that I could have or should have done things differently.

1 Like

Hi mimi0904. Hindsight can be a very disturbing emotion. I doubt anyone here has not had feelings or just twinges of guilt. I certainly have. But what we did we did ‘at the time’ because we felt it was the right thing to do. Now that is important to remember. We should also try not to blow small things up out of all proportion. You or any of us knows what will happen from day to day. How could you possibly know what would happen? Even doctors don’t have crystal balls to consult. Do we really appreciate anyone while they are with us? We can all say ‘I could have done better’. Could have!!! But again it’s hindsight. Allowing guilt to take hold can lead to despair and depression.
Relationships with parents and siblings can be fraught at the best of times, and we may not always agree, but we can still love them in our hearts which is where love is, not in the head. I doubt it’s something you can rationalise. It’s very difficult to rationalise emotions. Try and accept how you feel WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. If you judge yourself too harshly you will only make guilt worse.
Take care and look after yourself. Blessings.

5 Likes

Dear Mimi0904,
Jonathan’s wise words are very true and I hope they have helped you.
Guilt is one of the many emotions we can feel when we are grieving the loss of a loved one. Often this guilt is misplaced and only makes us feel worse. And even if there were things we could have done differently, our loved one would probably not hold it against us. It may help you to think instead of all he things that you did do for your mum, and the times that you were there for her. Be kind to yourself and allow happier memories to replace the sad ones.
Jo

1 Like

Mimi0904, In the last week of her life, my Mum and I had a huge argument. She died suddenly 8 months ago of pneumonia and a heart attack in hospital. Her death was not expected. There are things I wished I’d done, but I’m not certain it would have changed the outcome.
If my Mum had survived, I’m sure we would have had further arguments and makeups. She could be hard work! I’m sure she thought I was hard work at times too.
The most important thing is the love. :heart: Focus upon the love.
Take care.

1 Like

I so feel for you because I was you 9 months ago. When my mum died last August. The feelings of regret and guilt were overwhelming. You have regrets. Not guilt. Guilt is a conscious act of doing something wrong. Regret is looking back and wishing you had said or done something different. I’m sure You know this already but sometimes it gives better clarity to hear it out loud. We all have regrets. Everyone. If you had died and your mum lived she would have regrets of things she had said and done.

It’s taken me a lot of counselling to get to a place not bogged down with regret. And here is what I have learnt. Remember you are only human with human emotions and actions. all humans are flawed we are not perfect. So yes we will
Always have regrets. It’s probably true that for the majority of the time you were a kind loving daughter. But sometimes you maybe missed the mark a bit, but that’s ok too and normal because you are only human, Allow yourself those flaws within your relationship with your mum. Because all relationships have them. . So forgive yourself for those times and remember the love.

6 Likes

Hi. Jooles. What you said about ‘missing the mark’ is interesting. In the Greek version of the New Testament the word ‘sin’ is not as it seems. We regard sin as something we should regret and stop doing it. In the Greek it means ‘to miss the mark’. It was a term used in archery. Your arrow ‘missed the mark’ You did not aim straight. We all do it, and as you rightfully say, we are all human and flawed in some way. Even Saints have made mistakes. When Christ lost his temper and kicked the money lenders out of the Temple He may have regretted it after. Perhaps even felt some guilt. But it had to be done ‘at the time’. It’s important to remember those words, ‘at the time’. We can change nothing by regrets and guilt, and only harm ourselves. Accept it’s happened and gone. I doubt our loved ones would have wanted us to feel guilt. All is forgiven where they are. Take care. John.

3 Likes

I am so glad you pulled out the words “to miss the mark” out of Jooles’ post. It’s interesting to hear about the Greek New Testament. “To miss the mark” sounds far more compassionate, which is of course what the Bible is about. Love and compassion.
Your post also reminded me that the Bible is full of less than perfect people.
I have felt bad about the final week of my Mum’s life. Your post is a comfort to me.

2 Likes

Hi there mimi0904. Thank you very, very much for your post. It’s nearly exactly my story. Mum was diagnosed with multiple tumours 31st January 2019 and died 19th March 2019. I too, am at times, riddled with guilt. Yes, it’s over a year ago but that year was just a blur! I’ve recently moved and it’s all come up again, especially today. Your post is VERY near to my reasons of guilt. I too aruged/screamed down the phone at her on the Sunday, prior to her passing on that following Tuesday. Thank God I did go over to her on that Sunday, afternoon/evening though. I screamed that I can’t just jump to her beat! I have siblings but they left me to do everything, however, I was the closet to her but saying that, I expected “nothing” from them. I have guilt about saying to Mum on the phone . I can’t handle this on my own! She could barely talk & I screamed at her. I also have guilt of not seeing how bad she was. I saw or spoke with her pretty much every day but one day when i was there, she said that my brother had popped over and gasped at the weight that she’d lost. I can only explain it as, as soon as she said this, I looked over and it was as if a spell had been lifted and I gasped at something I hadn’t or couldn’t even believe I hadn’t noticed. She looked like a refugee from Belson. Wth!!! How had I not noticed??? I have other guilt issues, especially feeling that i couldve treated her better but my ex has helped with that a little. She said, we bounced off one another, me & Mum. Mum called me difficult a couple of times but I also at times found Mum difficult & threw it at her once or twice but there was a very tight bond however there’re a million and one things i wish i had NEVER said!
Thank you for your post as it helped me a great deal today so thank you again.
I hope my reply has helped you also.

3 Likes

Hi. Nick. Welcome. Try not to beat yourself up with guilt. It’s over 30 years ago since my mother died and I had a very similar relationship with her. I don’t ever remember being hugged by her. My parents marriage was not good, and it may be why I married the exact opposite to my mother, my dear wife who died 20 months ago.
Guilt is a very negative emotion and can lead to despair and ‘giving up’. After her death I forgave my mother and I hope she did me. We were both at fault and, as you say, we bounced off one another. What we did then we did then. It seemed appropriate at the time. Hindsight is best left out of it. We can all be wise after the event. We can’t get on with everyone in this life, and that applies to close relatives as much as it does to strangers.
This feeling of guilt you have is by no means uncommon in grief. I doubt there is one person on this site who has not experienced some sort of guilt. We are all human and far from perfect. You can still ask her to forgive you because it’s never too late. Even when there is this clash of personalities there is still love.
It’s good you are here and I am sure others will relate to your post. Take care and try and be kind to yourself. John.

3 Likes

Thank you very, very much, for your reply Jonathan. Just the the fact that you replied means the world to me atm, so thank you again. I’ve recently moved home into a smaller town, away from where Me & Mum were. Like I said, 2019 and also the beginning of this year has been a blur, well a world of pain, that I’ve pushed down, “when I could”. I had a nightmare with that town/city’s previous council. They just heaped on more pain to the point of near total breakdown, as I knew that I had to leave my flat but I did not want to stay in that town/city or have to present myself as homeless into their hostel system . They promised me a small flat away from that area. I was given date after date to move in to this so called flat?!. It was actually mental torture as I knew I was gonna be evicted from a private rented flat, so it was a race to what appeared first. Out of the blue , I received a call from another council, telling me that I had been nominated for a flat in a completely different area. The name of the flats and the road that they are in, is the same name of flats and same name of road but different town as the flat that my Mother was happiest in. It really was the strangest thing!? It got me away from that town/city of which I grew to despise and it’s council. They were waiting for me to be in their hostel system , I’m convinced (just another number to make up the numbers) & as soon as i could, i moved into the flat in that other town far enough away from that place town/city. Mum knew i hated that town/city, as I repeated it enough before she got ill, that when she’s gone, I’m out of there. I was gonna write this yesterday as I reply to another post. It related to spirituality. The first thing my ex said was that’s your Mum & that’s helped a great deal. Honestly, I still am in disbelief as it really was the strangest thing!? I promised myself when “pushing it down” that i will allow myself to grieve & this it what I’m doing. I miss her terribly & the guilt can overwhelme me at times but as i live alone I allow myself to cry, not say stop! “I can’t do this now”! I literally trained myself to not grieve. I’ve had enough experience of life to know that it was extremely unhealthy! I came back on to this site ( I found it last year when Mum died) yesterday as it seemed Like a dam bursting but that’s ok. I’m a man, we dont do that, especially in public!! This site is a Godsend! Thank you for being honest especially around the no hugging. I kissed Mum on the cheek when I’d see her or rather was leaving her. The day that she was told her diagnosis & no cure!! More about that another time. I went to put my arms around her and she used her palms to block, prod me away. I’ve gone over that many times. We did have a strained relationship but like my ex said in a text yesterday, she knew you loved her, you were there for her always and just the fact that she knew you loved her meant the world to her! I don’t come from a family that hugged. I seem to be very different to the rest of them!! Don’t get me wrong, I can be cold but I am capable of listening & compassion and understanding whereas they are like psychopaths. They are incapable of feeling anything but for themselves. I feel a little bad outing them on here but that’s the truth. Mum however was not anywhere near as bad as “them” , we were very alike although she liked a drink . That was her way of coping. Something she said to me before she died was (no thanks to my so called family) that her friend who knew her from childhood said “Terry (Teresa) you’ve had a HARD, HARD life”! That breaks me up! I wish she never told me her friend said that to her in the hospital but she did & its true!
Thank you again Jonathan for what you said & thank you for your honesty and thank you for taking the time to reply.
Nick.

I just wanted say to Nicki68 and Johnathan that I really appreciate your posts regarding guilt. It has pained and upset me me greatly that I argued with my Mum in her final week. I lost my temper even when she was unwell, because she was doing very illogical things. She was very anxious person. I was so stressed. I was a long term carer for my Mum and we love each other dearly, but we could really rub sparks of each other.
However, my relationship with my Mum is more than any argument or loss of temper. We were never a hugging or an particularly affectionate family unit. By some fluke my last words to Mum whilst she was still alive was a whispered “I love you”. It’s so rare I’d say those words.
If we had known what was about to happen, it’s unlikely that we would have been arguing at all. My mothers death has taught me a great deal about love. I am now considerably less likely to lose my temper. I’ve learnt a lesson.
In the end one must try to be compassionate to oneself, because they wouldn’t want us in pain or upset. Most families argue. We are human and it was just poor timing. If they had survived, the argument or loss of temper wouldn’t have been remembered.
It is my belief that they are now pure joy and happiness. They’d want us to be happy too. Getting to the point of feeling happy might take some time, but it will come.

1 Like

Now Daffy, if I may say so, that is a very sensible and optimistic post.
You say you have learnt your lesson. That is about the only good thing that comes out of this awful experience. I too have changed. My wife had dementia in the end and I used to get impatient with her at times, until a friend who had been through a similar experience talked to me about that awful disease. I became much more tolerant and understanding.
You are so right. We need to be understanding and compassionate to ourselves as well as others. Flogging ourselves with remorse does no good at all. And I am sure that our loved ones would not want us miserable because of them.
Happiness may come back in time. Each individual will find it in their own way. Some may never find it in this life.
Thanks for your post. John.

1 Like

Thank you Daffy & John for your replys. Yes, that is a very good point that you have made there Daffy. I have said to my ex many times, treasure your Mum (their relationship has been difficult) have tolerance & patience with her because if I could only have “just one more day” with Mum!? Well… anyway, she has got the point & is developing closer ties with her Mum. She’s said that she’s listened & learned from that. “Just one more day” . I also mean it & she can see that. I also have learned a few lessons of my own about tolerance & patience around others but what a way to learn eh?! Referering to Daffy, having that chance to whisper “I Love you”. I had the chance to finally, after my (at the time) 51 years on this planet, say to Mum, whilst Mum was in the hospital. “I Love you Mum” she replied “I Love you too Nick”. For that, I’m very, very grateful to have had that chance! Thank you Daffy for your reply & for what you said in that reply. Also John, thank you for your reply.
Take care.
All the best.
Godbless.
Nick.

1 Like

I can relate to this so much. I lost my mum suddenly in November 19. I guess if I had taken her health issues more seriously it may not have been such a shock. I feel so so guilty for the fact I never txt her back on the Sunday before she died. The last time I saw her I didn’t want to talk to her… and now I’d give anything to just have one more annoying txt. It’s not getting easier & im traumatised by the flashbacks of being with mum when she died. They know the air out of me sometimes.

Mum & I was not close as she did some stupid things but I never knew what losing the person you have never survived without would feel like. It’s like physical pain. I can rationalise everything but it doesn’t ever take away the tears. I’ve now found out my step dad has a new girlfriend & im just so overwhelmed with how this happened. My mum was 53. Just no age :frowning:

1 Like

VictoriaM,
I’m so sorry your lost your Mum, especially at such a young age. I lost my Mum in the October, so I know how hard it feels. It very raw. Take care.

Hi. Victoria and Welcome. The pain you feel is common to us all, Grief does not differentiate between people. Grief is grief for whatever reason. We do cope in our own way and time.
Hindsight is a very harsh master, and I doubt if any of us can look back and not feel some guilt about what we should or should not have done. You may not have been close, but she was your mum and I’m sure you loved her in spite of her doing stupid things. We are human beings not Saints. We make mistakes and often regret them. Guilt is a soul destroying emotion and can lead to anxiety, and it’s so unnecessary. The past is gone and over, nothing we do can change anything, and the realisation of that fact can help.
Your step dad has his own life to lead, and who knows what he is thinking? Try not to judge. So many on here have lost relatives they may have not been close to, but the harsh fact of bereavement hits hard, and we need to forgive any indiscretions. I know, we can try and rationalise and try to see things differently, but it’s so hard isn’t it?
Take care of yourself and give yourself time. Blessings. John,

Thank you so much. Your in my thoughts & I hope you are ok & have lots of support xxx

Thank you VictoriaM,
The people on these forums have been wonderfully supportive. In that respect, I’ve been very lucky to meet some lovely on-line people. Do keep posting on here, as I believe getting it off your chest does help. x

Thank you John. You are right & I know my mum would want my step dad to be happy. I just want my mum not to be forgotten. How can someone just leave the world & the world carries on, but I know it does! Just sometimes it floors me xx

One of the most difficult things to cope with is seeing others together and enjoying each other, when we exist in a world of pain. Our world seems to have stopped so how can others be so happy? They are, and good luck to them. It’s how we see the world, our perspective. During grief it all looks so gloomy and the future looks so bleak. There is hope, there always is, but it can seem so elusive and may come and go at first. Can your mum ever be forgotten? Your step dad has found comfort, and to go on mourning when comfort is possible would not be wise. But he may still be grieving, how do we know?
Very best wishes to you. John.

Back to top