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I feel tremendous guilt for Mum´s passing

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Dear all, my name is Karin and I lost my beloved Mother 4 years ago. (Please excuse my sometimes broken English, I am writing this from Sweden..)

I want to share my story with you..My Mum lived in a nursing home for 15 years ever since she got paralized from her second stroke in 1998.

She died in pneumonia.They had told us that it would take some time, she was totally awake and looked like she used to.I was there during days and nights, and during the nights she sometimes had abnormal breathing patterns. The last night she had very fast breathing that started in the evening, and when I came in to her room at 12 in the night, it had gotten worse.She looked at me very intesively and the breathing was very fast and loud, but no sounds of fluids in the lungs.

It was so stressful to sit by her side during that labored breathing.I finally rang the nurse who came and gave her an injection of 7.5 mg Morphine and 5 mg Stesolide.

Maybe it got a little better, but the breathing was still very fast.I panicked and rang the nurse after only 30 minutes, and I was thinking "what are you doing, the 4 hours that was supposed to be between the doses, what about that"?! But I wanted to help her so desperately.

AND they had agrees to try and save her after my brother and I had begged them to.They shouldn´t agreed to that..our Mother had been ill for 25 years and we were in denial, just couldn´t get into our heds that this was it..

So that last night, I was in my best rescuing mood..:( I don´t understand today how I could think that more Morphine would help her, but that night I wasn´t myself..

Anyway, the nurse came and said she could have a little more.I don´t know how much she gave her, but two hours later my Mum died.

I feel like it´s my fault, I am convinced she would have lived two days longer if she hadn´t gotten that second injection.She was totally alerte and awake..

Every day is torture for me now, and i don´t know how to move on with this guilt.

If there´s anyone who has any advice please tell me..thanks so much



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My dear Karin, I'm so sorry to learn of the death of your beloved mother, and sorry, too, that you're struggling with guilt in the aftermath. Given your mother's age and state of health (ill for 25 years, living in an nursing home and paralyzed from a second stroke), do you really think living two more days would have made a difference to your mum? 

Our friend and colleague Barbara Karnes, RN is a hospice nurse whose writings are so helpful to those of us who are unfamiliar with the dying process. I strongly encourage you to read a few of her articles, in hopes that they will bring you some peace of mind:

Overmedicating As Death Approaches

The Final Hours Before Death

Does Morphine = Euthanasia for the Dying?

Does Morphine Hasten Death?

Dangers of Morphine for the Dying

You might find this article helpful as well: Grief and the Burden of Guilt

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I am so sorry for your loss and for the guilt you have felt the four years since.  It is common to feel guilt with grief, even if not deserved.  I do hope you'll read the articles Marty posted links to.

Your English is impeccable, no worries there!

I love the article Marty posted "Grief and the Burden of Guilt", it's one I've referred people to many times.  We tend to second guess ourselves when we did the best we knew to do and cared for them above anything.  I have learned that guilt is only a help in calling attention to something that needs changing in us, but there is nothing to change, so it is something to let go of and not let it hold you down, it serves no good purpose for you at this point.  The nurse is the one that made the medical decision, she is the one to answer for this, we can't be expected to know what is right or wrong medically, that's why they're in a hospital.  If you have questions about it after all this time, perhaps you could contact a doctor for their expert opinion.  My mother-in-law was on morphine when she had cancer, and it definitely did nothing to kill her.  Sometimes will to live (or not) factors in as well, and she may have just been so tired of going through it.

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Thank you so much kayc for your answer! I thought about contacting a doctor to try and get some aswers,thank you.

I have done everything for my Mom for so long, but now was the time when I shouldn't been doing anything, I tried to stop or change the dying process and by doing so death came quicker:(


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Dear Marty, thank you so much for your answer! It' a feeling that we missed our goodbyes and she died without us kids by her side. 

I feel I was in such a denial that night that I didn't understand how serious nor the breathing or the morphine was.I just wanted to rescue her...

Thanks so much, I will read Barbara's articles.

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