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Daisy10

I lost my dad and I blame myself.

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My dad passed away last month after being hospitalized. He had a complicated medical history and was in and out of the hospital constantly. I was somewhat of a caregiver to him. He had home health aides 24/7 but I still did the little things like buy and prepare his food, make his Dr. appointments, made sure he had his medication and insulin, paid his bills and took care of anything he called for. It was stressful at times because I was the only one doing these things, I didn’t have much help from family. I took on this role reluctantly when he had a stroke a few years back. He had no one and I felt horrible that that had happened to him and felt that with me being the eldest it was my responsibility. My family also put pressure on me to step up and take care of him. No one wanted to help but everyone had a suggestion. Over the years he started to slow down. His health was getting worse he was in and out of the hospital a few times a year. I knew he wasn’t going to get better but I just wanted to make him comfortable. There was also some resentment on my half from my childhood. We didn’t have the best relationship I felt neglected and I was mad at him for the bad life choices he made. I felt like everytime he made a bad choice I had to swoop in and help him. Which was mostly true. But I was getting over my issues and just wanted my dad to be happy. This time when he was hospitalized I felt like I was to blame. That week I had so much on my plate and didn’t make sure that he didn’t run out of medication. He was out of medication for four days. And he was hospitalized then passed away. I feel like a horrible daughter. I feel like I failed him. This feeling is overpowering and it is the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life. I failed my dad and I can’t forgive myself. I can’t even speak to my family about it because they would blame me too. I feel like the worst person in the world and I don’t deserve happiness because he is no longer here.

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Hi Daisy10,

  Thank you for sharing your feelings here. This is a safe place to vent and let go of them to people who truly understand and care. All of this is so fresh, raw and new to you.  Your experience is complicated by the family dynamics and pressure placed upon you.  All of the feelings you experience are a normal reaction to the sudden loss of your Dad.

Give yourself credit for stepping up and doing what you could to help him and show him love where other family members just gave lip service.  When my wife died, I was looking for some reason to blame myself for her death as that would somehow justify the loss.  I felt much of the same feeling as you express.  I was the caregiver for my beloved wife, the last six years of her life.  I was in shock for a long time afterward. 

Please give yourself some grace  and just allow these feelings to come and pass.  One of the things I have learned on this grief healing journey is that "Feelings" are not always "Facts".  By coming here, sharing my story , learning the tools to work through this grief, and just being here, helped me to get through this.  We have a great group of people here that listen, care, and support each other. 

I am sad that you have to go through this but glad you found this place.  Most people "out there" do not truly understand this type of grief.  Be kind to yourself, rest,eat healthier, and just breathe.  We get through this one moment, one hour, one day at a time. 

Please come back often so we can help you as many others have helped me in this group.  {{{ HUGS }}}  - Shalom

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My dear, I hope you will take to heart the wise words that George has shared with you. Just because you "feel like a horrible daughter" does not mean that you are, in fact, a horrible daughter. Far from it. You sound like someone who was totally devoted to taking care of her dad. As I wrote in this article, we adult children often think that we are responsible for keeping our parents healthy, and we feel like failures when death takes them away from us. This is especially true in your case, since you are the one who assumed the role of primary caregiver for your dad. I invite you to read this, and note the related readings listed at the base: Guilt In The Wake of A Parent's Death

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Thank you for taking the time to read my long post and for giving me advice. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through and my emotions are all over the place. I’m grateful for finding this site. I’ve already started to read some of the articles and found them helpful. I was taking it day by day and thought I was getting better but yesterday all of the negative emotions came back. I’m glad to know that I can come here and talk about things with people who understand.    

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7 hours ago, Daisy10 said:

I was taking it day by day and thought I was getting better but yesterday all of the negative emotions came back.

Expect that to happen often.  You'll circle back so often to familiar territory that you'll begin to think "I could swear I've been through this place a dozen times already!"  Very common experience!  You'll be all over the place for awhile in your emotions and it's also something that you can expect.  Think of the various emotional states like giant waves.  You simply have to let them wash over you, and they will pass and the water will recede, followed by more waves.  It may seem like each wave will destroy you, but if you can let them soak you and get back up again, their strength will gradually lessen.  Some people run from the waves, and they pay a heavy price later on.

Sorry to hear that guilt is complicating your experience.  I think any of us who were caregivers, like I was also, have these guilt feelings that persist.  A lot of "if only" kinds of feelings, the ol' "woulda coulda shoulda" thing that can drive you 'round the bend.  That, too, is normal and very much expected, but I am sure you did what you could with what you had at the time, and with little to no support from family.  Don't be surprised if you feel resentment or anger at them, at some point.

I'm sure others will chip in wisdom of their own, in time.

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Oh my gosh, you have been through so much and are feeling everything is on you when really, any of the other family members could have stepped up to the plate and helped at any given time. It's not all on you just because you were the only one that came through and tried.  

I am so sorry for your loss.  It's no easy feat taking on the responsibility of a parent especially in the years when you're still working.  I have something similar going on with an older sister right now, she hasn't taken care of herself at all in her life, smokes like a chimney, has had zero exercise and hasn't cared about eating healthy, led a very sedentary life.  She found out her husband is having low numbers on his kidneys and she suddenly exclaimed, who is going to take care of ME if HE dies?!  I couldn't believe what I was hearing, he has been taking care of her this whole last year and still she gives no thought to her smoking, etc.  Sometimes it feels the burden of taking care of someone feels unfair.  I know who would do it if he wasn't there, but I would require she quit smoking if I was around because I can't be around it.  Period.  

Your father was very fortunate to have such a caring daughter.  You did your best and I hope you see it's time you lay to rest the feelings of not having done a good enough job...our best is our best, period.  Even more than the care you gave him was the love and devotion, and I'm sure he appreciated it whether or not he ever explicitly told your or not.  

Right now you are grieving, and that takes a lot out of us.  It's important to give yourself self-care and understanding and patience.  You're undoubtedly exhausted from grief, from keeping going, so I hope you'll be able to slow down and take your time with this.  Give yourself a big hug from me!

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This is all so new to me. Everyday is a struggle. There are times when I wake up and my heart is racing. There are moments where everything reminds me of my dad and I feel guilty for being alive. I try to avoid things and people that bring about these horrible emotions. I try to think of a future but I don’t see any reprieve from this feeling. I ask myself if I can live with myself. I know I should give myself time because this just happened in December but this is so overwhelming.  People who blame themselves sometimes finds peace and acceptance because their blame is irrational but mine isn’t. I don’t know if this will get better. I just don’t. 

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On 1/23/2019 at 8:26 PM, Daisy10 said:

I feel like a horrible daughter. I feel like I failed him. This feeling is overpowering and it is the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life. I failed my dad and I can’t forgive myself.

This will not "get better" all by itself, my dear. If you find that your feelings have not changed at all since your father died, and if you truly believe that you've tried, but whatever you've done so far to help yourself isn't working for you, then I would encourage you to find a qualified grief counselor who can support you as you find ways to work your way through your grief and come to terms with this death. Finding your way through grief is an active (not a passive) process, and it requires hard and deliberate work on your part. (See, for example, Bereavement: Doing the Work of Grief.)

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