Not coping well, think my mother died because of me

by Andrea
(Mighigan USA)

My mother's been gone 2 months now. I still say it can't be real, just can't be. She was 74 but sprightly, fun, loving, much younger than her age, and she was my light, my strength.

I was typing out a short summary of what happened, medically, but thought better to delete because it'd inevitably sneak in this or that about how stupid and ignorant I was for not doing enough to save my mother. Not that that isn't true, but I didn't want any room to give myself excuses or somehow assuage my guilt. And I had come here to address something specific.

Mom's passing was unexpected, within a day of going into the Emergency Room and being hospitalized, and traumatic. In the chaos of her hospital room, some of the hospital staff were trying to comfort me as I cried and bawled, and I heard myself saying, "She was my best friend." I said this about my mother, while she was lying in the bed nearby, still alive.

Then, after more crying and bawling, told by someone that I had to calm down and be strong for my mother, I went and lay down next to her. I held her hand and hugged her as I lay close to her. I continued crying and kept repeating that I loved her. At one point, I dozed off, then came back. I hadn't slept in 2 days, but that's just an excuse. And while she was struggling to breathe, I remember thinking, "Why is she taking so long?"

What is wrong with me? What kind of a horrible person says, does, thinks these things?

Why did I use the past tense when my mother wasn't dead? Why would I say "was" when she was still alive? How could I have dozed off when my mother was dying, on the verge of leaving this world? Why did I have that awful thought, as if I were impatient, thinking my mother was taking too long to die? It wasn't accompanied by any hopeful thought, like maybe she's not really dying because she keeps breathing, so why did I think that?

I love my mother, more than anyone or anything. So what is wrong with me?!

Comments for Not coping well, think my mother died because of me

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Jul 31, 2019
So sorry for your loss
by: Lesley

Dear Andrea

First of all, may I apologise for not publishing your post sooner. I'm afraid there has been a glitch in the system and I didn't receive the notification.

I'm particularly sorry as you are obviously in such distress and feeling so guilty about your Mum.

You were in shock, and you may still be in that state now, and it's normal to feel as you do, but you were there for your mother. You lay beside her. You were there comforting her and no-one can survive without sleep. She knew you were there for her and loved her.

As far as the slip of the tongue, that is something anyone could do in such stressful circumstances.

Please forgive yourself. You sound like an amazing, loving daughter and I know your Mum would have been so proud.

You were lucky to have such an amazing relationship with your Mum. I have that too, with mine, - she is the author of this site - and it is a rare thing. It is something really special to treasure.

Try and remember the good times and not focus too much on the last day. It is the long-term relationship you had during all your life that matters, not something you said in extreme stress.

Guilt is a very common reaction to loss. Although your story is a little different to those we have mentioned on our page about grief and guilt it is normal to go over all the details of what happened and wish you had done something differently. But the whatifs don't help.

Give yourself permission to grieve and forgive yourself. I'm sure your Mum would forgive you and you would forgive her if she had done the same thing.

Feel free to write to us again and I hope you can find some comfort among our pages.


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