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I lost both my parents in 9 months


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Hello.  I’m very new here, and I don’t know where to begin except to say that I’m heartbroken. I apologize in advance if this post is long.  A lot of terrible things happened to me, and there aren’t many places I can be myself and just talk about my feelings.  

My mother died suddenly and unexpectedly on April 12, 2017 at Ochsner of acute myeloid leukemia.  It happened less than two weeks after her ENT initially suspected that she had cancer.  None of us, not even mom herself, knew she sick, as she was so vibrant and active.   It was devastating.  She was truly the heart of our family.  She and my father were married 51 years, and while Dad didn’t talk about the loss much, we all knew he was heartbroken.   

My father died February 13.  I was living with him so I could take care of him after Mom passed away.  Dad suffered from a lot of heath problems, including COPD, emphysema, diabetes, and an enlarged heart.  He was very dependent on Mom, and I picked up where she left off the best I could, seeing that he took his meds, getting his meals ready, getting his CPAC and bed ready at night, etc.  

But I failed in my duties as a caretaker.  I could have saved him.  Dad has always had difficulty breathing, and around Thanksgiving, his feet began to swell.  My sister and I noticed and offered to take him to the doctor.  But he refused.   As much as we loved him, he was a very stubborn man who refused to go to the doctor unless he needed his prescriptions refilled.

By Christmas, his feet were looking really terrible, and his breathing was worse.  My brother, sister, and I were begging him to go to the doctor.  But he still refused, insisting that he was ok.  What he did do was let me fix an Epsom salt soak for his feet.  But the swelling didn’t go away.  So I went behind his back and set up an appointment with his doctor for January 2.  But the weather was terrible at the time, and he told me that it was too cold to go to the doctor and to cancel the appointment.  His 6 month appointment was February 5, so I respected his wishes and cancelled it, making sure to keep the 2/5 appointment.  

On February 2, his CPAC machine broke.  He told me to take a look at it, but I had no idea how to fix it, so I took it to Thrift Home Care (the local supplier for O2 and breathing supplies).  I filled out the paperwork and was told that he would need a prescription from his doctor to get a new one.  I took this as good news because it meant he couldn’t get out of going to the doctor this time.  He would have to see the doctor whether he wanted to or not.  

We rode out a very rough weekend without his CPAC.  He was going through 2 tanks of O2 a day, and I begged him to let me take him to the ER.  My sister was calling twice a day, begging him to go.  My brother was using pictures of his new grandson (his namesake) as leverage, begging him to go.  But he refused to go and said he was right where he wanted to be.

Sunday night, he even pulled a stunt trying to get out of going to the doctor on 2/5.   He said, “I want you to call the doctor Monday, and get the prescription for me.  Then I won’t have to go.”  I informed him it doesn’t work that way, so if he wanted a new machine, he’d have to go whether he liked it or not.

So on February 5, we went to the doctor as scheduled.  I described all his symptoms: his difficulty breathing, his swollen feet, leaning over in his chair, falling asleep in his chair, etc.  She suspected congestive heart failure and ran some tests.  Then she set him up for a 2/15 appointment with a heart specialist.  I also told her he needed a new CPAC, and she wrote the prescription.

Dad was happy because he was ready for his CPAC.  After dropping Dad off at home, I went to Thrift with the prescription, but they told me they didn’t have everything ready yet.  They were waiting for Medicare and other paperwork.  They gave me more O2, and I went home.  Dad got crabby with me because he was expecting to get his CPAC right then so he could take a nice long nap.  

On February 6, Dad stumbled getting out of bed and wanted me to stay home with him (I am a school librarian).  So I took the day and sat with Dad.  All day I begged him to let me take him to the ER.  My sister and brother were calling and begging him to get to the doctor.  My aunt (his sister) begged him to go.  But he would not go.   We told him that if we called 911, an ambulance would come for him and he wouldn’t even have to get out of his chair.  But he said he didn’t need an ambulance.  I asked him if he wanted me to call my uncle (his BIL), or his best friend.  But he said no, he was OK.

On February 7, he finally got his new CPAC and had a great night’s sleep.  We got the results of the tests and found he didn’t have congestive heart failure.  For the first time in a week, I got a good night’s sleep, too.  

But things fell apart.  His feet were still swollen, and he was still groggy, falling asleep in his chair.  I was still begging him to let me take him to the doctor, but he just wouldn’t go.  

He slept until 2:30 on Saturday.  He did NOT sleep well without his CPAC and thought I was helping him by letting him sleep in.  My aunt called and hollered at me when she found out I was letting him sleep that late.  She told me I was the most cowardly, irresponsible adult she had ever met, that I needed to grow up, take responsibility, and call an ambulance.  I did NOT need to hear that after the week I’d just been through getting the new machine and hung up on her.  Dad woke up, grouchy as a bear because his sleep had been disturbed, and I told him it was nearly 3 in the afternoon.  

After church on Sunday, I fed him meatloaf and green beans, meal he normally loved, and he just picked at it.  This concerned me, and I asked if he wanted me to call an ambulance or someone to come over.  He said he was OK and was going to hold out for the doctor’s appointment he had on Thursday.  

On Monday, April 12, I prepped the library for some visiting VIPs, got him a happy for Valentine’s Day, and went home to fix him dinner.  He said he wanted ravioli, so I fixed that for him.  He ate every bite while we watched Women’s Snowboarding and the Men’s Super G.  He kept telling me how much he loved me, and I told him how much I loved him, too.   

Around 10PM, I got his bed and CPAC ready, and he got up for bed.  He stumbled a little, and I asked him was he sure he didn’t want me to call someone, and he said no, as always.  When he got to the bathroom, I curled up with a cheesy romance novel.  I heard him bump around in the bathroom and asked if he wanted some help, and he said no, he just wanted to go to bed.  So what did I do but curl up with that stupid, cheesy romance novel again and settle down for the night.  

I woke up at 2:30 with a strange feeling.  I checked on Dad, and he was sleeping.  I was glad he was going to let me take him to the doctor on Thursday.  And what did I do but lay back down and go to sleep.  I woke up at 5:45, got up and ready for work like I always did.  I fixed Dad coffee, poured his orange juice, set out his meds, and even put out a slice of king cake for him as a treat because it was Mardi Gras.  I looked in on Dad, but didn’t wake him up, then I left for work.  

I wish I had stayed home.  I wish I had just called 911 and dealt with him later.  My aunt called me at work because he wouldn’t answer the phone.  I left ASAP and went straight home to find that he had passed away in bed and had been lying there while I was at work.  

I am such a miserable failure as a caretaker.   I should have done a better job and never left his side for even a second.  I know my aunt blames me for his death, and I feel like the rest of the family does, too.  All I want is to be buried next to my parents.   I’m sorry I failed you, Dad, and Mom, I’m sorry I didn’t take care of him.  Please forgive me.   I will love you both forever and wish I was good enough to see you again.  

Thank you for listening, 

TeasingGeorgia

 

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My dear one, how my heart hurts for you as I read your story. You are so NOT at fault for what happened to your father. Clearly you did everything you could to take good care of your dad, no matter what anyone else tells you. You simply cannot force another human being to do what you think is best, no matter how right you may be in your position. Your dad lived his life his way, and that is how he died ~ he did it HIS way, and none of this happened because of anything you did or failed to do. Still, even as I say that to you, I know my words will do little to erase the guilt you are feeling now ~ most especially when you have a relative who is all too ready to place all this blame upon you! That does not mean that you ARE guilty of the charge she has brought against you.

I want you to read this article, as it could have been written just for you: Guilt In The Wake of A Parent's Death and please be sure to read some of the related articles that are listed at the base, too.

Your dad was fortunate to have a daughter as devoted to him as you have been, and I am certain that he knows how much you love him. I pray that you will hold onto that love, because the love you share with your dad has not died with him ~ and I hope that when you think about him, love is what you will remember most.  

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7 hours ago, MartyT said:

TeasingGeorgia,

My heart weeps for you as you are now dealing with the loss of both of your parents.  You did as much as you could to care for, your Dad.  As a caretaker, it adds an additional burden of grief on you.

I know this because i took care of my beloved wife ( she was disabled) for six years before she suddenly died, three years ago, on February 16th.  I went to work and found her when I returned.  I was in such Shock and Awe and played every scenario in my  head as to what I could have done to save her.  You see, I could not. My wife was also on oxygen and a CPAP for sleep.  You did everything humanely possible to help your father.  Stuff happens in life beyond our control.

For now, try and take care of yourself as well as you cared for your father.  This is one of the lessons I have learned through this grief journey.  We don't get over it.  We share here where it is safe and others here understand death and grief from the inside of surviving the death of our loved ones.  This place is a wonderful safe haven from the outside world.  In my humble opinion, I would just disregard  your aunts opinion.  She was not a part of the care taking process; her opinion doesn't count.  Your ACTION in caring for your father did.  Please get some rest and take care of yourself.  - Shalom

 

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TeasingGeorgia,

I am so sorry for all you have been through and are going through.  You are NOT to blame for your father's death!  I notice the aunt is quick to blame but didn't herself come stay with him and take care of him.  How easy for her to put the blame on you instead of taking responsibility herself!
All of us die of something at some point.  My husband had a heart attack when he turned 51.  Life/death happens when we least expect it and we can't always control everything, much as we'd like to.  It's hard enough to lose both of your parents without taking the brunt of it on yourself.  The TRUTH is you are a loving caring daughter.  You could not have stayed home from work indefinitely, the hard reality is we do have to work.

I want you to do something for me if you can't for yourself, treat yourself like you would your very best friend.  Because you ARE your best friend, you know?  It took me a while to realize that, but it's true.  The two people that cared most for you are gone and now it's up to YOU to care for yourself first and foremost.  Be patient with yourself, understanding, just as you would with a best friend, because you are your best friend, you know?  No beating yourself up!  No judgment!  No self-blame.  Understanding, caring, patience.  That's what this doctor prescribes!

I was just about to list the very article Marty posted for you to read and then saw she'd beat me to it.  I hope you click on the link in her post and read it and take it to heart.  Here's another one:
https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2012/12/grief-and-burden-of-guilt.html
Feeling guilty does not MAKE one guilty, it's a part of grief response.  We feel we should somehow be all and everything and be able to stop bad things from happening to those that we love.  But we aren't able to control everything and part of our working through our grief is realizing that.  Forgive yourself what you shouldn't have to forgive.  You did everything for your dad and the reality is you are a very wonderful daughter.  (((hugs)))

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Thank you all so much for your kind replies.  

@Marty T: One of the songs played at Dad's funeral was "My Way" by Elvis Presley.  When I read your comment, I got a chill.  It's like he was telling me that through you. 

@iPraise Him: Thank you for sharing your wife's story.  I don't feel so alone now.  I hope someday, there will be a cure for COPD.  It's a terrible disease.  

@kayc: I read the article you and Marty T recommended.  Thank you.  It really helped.  

I am on my lunch break at work now.  Today is my birthday, and my sister sent me some beautiful pink roses (my favorite).  I'll stop by the cemetery after work, and I'm going out to eat with friends after choir practice tonight.  What I've been learning to do since Mom's death in April is to take things minute by minute.  

You are wonderful, and God bless you.  I am so thankful I found this site.  

Yours, 

TeasingGeorgia

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Happy Birthday!  I'm glad your sister was so thoughtful and you were remembered.  You are so right, minute by minute, sometimes about all we can handle.

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