Feeling guilty as mum died in a nursing home when she wanted to die at home

(11 Posts)
OneStepBackwards Mon 17-Mar-14 09:40:43

Mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer many years ago so we had already had the talk about where she wanted to die. Unfortunately towards the end we had to move her into a nursing home where she eventually died. The problem is I felt as if I pushed her there as it was becoming harder to get the help for her at home and I lived a long way from her. The pallative team were great but they could not guarantee full 24 hour care especially at night as they use volunteers. When we (have a sibling) made final arrangements to get her home again it became apparent we had left it too late and it would have been cruel to move her.

Unfortunately I didn't visit much towards the end as I had been visiting frequently over the years and it was taking a toll on my physical and mental health as I work full time but I also know that it was also because I knew she didn't want to be in the home and I know I was avoiding the issue.

It's been months now since she died but I still feel I let her down and that is holding back my grief.

Has anyone been in the same situation and if so how do you handle any guilt.

gamerchick Mon 17-Mar-14 13:39:15

I'm so sorry sad

Of course you didn't let your mother down.. you did the right thing in the circumstances, what else could you have done?

Have you talked it out with somebody? Guilt is an awful feeling when it's got a hold of you.

OneStepBackwards Mon 17-Mar-14 13:52:11

Thanks gamer for your kind words, even though I know I did my best I still feel that I could have done more to get her home but by that time I was emotionally worn out waiting for the obvious end.

I haven't really spoken to anyone much other than a couple of friends and my DH but even though I hear them say that I did what I thought was best at the time it doesn't stop that feeling that I was too tired to make the final push to get her home before she died.

I might investigate counselling as I am sure this is stopping me moving forwards.

kerstina Mon 17-Mar-14 20:40:37

It is funny how hard we are on ourselves isn't it when we really should be the kindest when we are facing our darkest hour. I also feel a lot of guilt about leaving my dad the night before he died and thinking I should have stayed longer but could not handle seeing him like that sad
My cousin put a different perspective on his own mums passing as he said we need to let go at the end. Realise we have our own families and for our own sanity. I don't quite see it like that but I guess we just can't control the inevitable.

gamerchick Mon 17-Mar-14 22:22:19

It really hurts my middle to think we beat ourselves up with a guilt that's not needed. We can't help it, we can't change it but we do it anyway sad

Our parents especially just wouldn't want to think of us in the depths of despair because their passing wasn't how we wanted it to be. All you can do is your best, even if it doesn't meet how you wanted things to be in your head.

I'm so sorry for both your losses.

babybarrister Sun 30-Mar-14 15:43:00

I had this as well 20 years ago with my DM. It does take time to forgive yourself - in my case i just could not handle her being at home by myself ...I was still living at home with my younger DB and it would have made it v difficult for us to return I felt.

Now when I thik about. It I know that in reality of all the thing DM would have been upset about, this would not have been one -
As others have said, I am sure that your DM would not want you to be upset about this

OneStepBackwards Sun 30-Mar-14 16:01:40

Thanks everyone thanks

I am trying not to dwell on it too much but sometimes it hits me and I start to think about the what ifs and then the guilt creeps back.

babybarrister it's good that you have come to that realisation and I think I just need to give myself more time to get to that same position.

But it's hard when you hear other people say they would never let any of their relatives go into care but I am trying to remind myself that life is sometimes shit and I did the best I could.

SilverViking Sun 30-Mar-14 16:50:52

I'm sorry for your loss.

Please don't be hard on yourself, and allow yourself to grieve.
I have noticed over the years, individuals who wished to die at home, but they don't know what the end will look like, and sometimes can't see that care home will be much better for everyone ... Maximum round the clock care, pain relief and peaceful environment where their own family don't suffer trying to look after them for a prolonged time

Please take comfort that your mum was well cared for. You will have huge emotions to deal with after any death, and it is normal to be hard on yourself ....I suppose death of someone close does open us up to our own vulnerability.

Mourn for your mother, remember her for what she was like and how you felt with her, but be easy on yourself that you could have done anything to make the end easier for her. And maybe in her heart, your mum knew that at the end too!!

babybarrister Sun 30-Mar-14 20:08:42

Other people often say things in relation to which they have no bloody idea - no-one will ever understand that caring for someone terminally ill is not as simple as giving up your job and offeringround the clock attention until they have actually had to do it! The fact is the emotional and physical cost is huge and no- one knows when the person wil die. So you cannot plan for a 'hard' month ad then revert to normality - it may go on. And on. Of course people can. Be idealistic when they are not. Actually dealing with the issue ...ignore!

OneStepBackwards Sun 30-Mar-14 22:36:50

Caring for someone at the end of their life is so hard both emotionally and physically and yes often the people who say they would look after their relatives at home haven't actually been in that situation yet so yes I should just ignore.

My mum voiced her fears of how the actual end might be with me on a couple of occasions so I suspect her wanting to die at home was probably her way of trying to calm her own fears. However, she was certainly in no pain as the nursing staff made sure the doctors treated her pain and gave her mouth care when she stopped drinking which we would have struggled with at home.

legoplayingmumsunite Sun 30-Mar-14 23:02:19

Caring for someone at home is very hard. My Mum has done it twice, for my grandfather (old age and dementia) and my Dad (cancer). Grandpa eventually went into a home where he lived for several years (after Mum caring for him for 2 years while still working and still having children at home). I'm amazed how many people make the 'I'd never put a relative in a home' when they've never cared for someone in that situation. They really have no idea.

I think sometimes with a terminal disease like cancer there is a sense of relief when they die because they are out of misery and then your grief catches up with you a few months later which is why you are feeling worse about it now. Be good to yourself, it takes time to get through the grieving process but it will get easier to cope with time. Completely agree with the PP's cousin who said you have to look after the rest of your life (children, work, marriage) as well. Very few people can put their life on hold waiting for a parent to die.

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