Jump to content
Grief Healing Discussion Groups

Guilt- The Useless Emotion


nashreed

Recommended Posts

Hello.

I wanted to ask everybody how you handle guilt with the passing of your loved one? I still dwell on the guilt that I feel, that I could have done more for my wife. She had so many health problems and I used to stay awake trying to diagnose every new symptom on the internet.

I feel so, so terrible admitting this, but there were times that she was in so much pain, and she used to hallucinate because of either the medications she was on or her sleep apnea, that I used to think "Maybe it would be better if she passed". She used to just set her head on the bathroom doorjam and cry and say she didn't know if she could go on.  Now I feel like I willed her passing, maybe my thoughts were heard and contributed to the end.  Be careful what you wish for. I would give anything for that stress again because now I don't care much about anything. 

James

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

James, this is something all of us have wrestled with at one time or another, particularly those of us who were caregivers.  Could you have done more?  Maybe.  More likely you did everything in your power, but you're human, and humans burn out, they run out of energy, they need respite.  Caregiving is damned hard work, and it's almost certainly unpaid or uncompensated work.  I had my days... the summer leading up to the beginning of the end, I left for 48 hours to attend a family reunion and came back early due to a bad feeling... to find he had fallen due to blood pressure plummeting, and probably hit his head given the amount of dried blood on the floor, and the house smelled like a sickroom.  I thought to myself, "Can't I go away for 2 days without something going wrong?"  Of course I felt guilty for thinking that and for resenting it, but he had said he would be fine by himself.  Then there were the experiences in the hospital, waiting to be seen, waiting for test results, waiting waiting waiting... resenting the whole matter, wishing things were different.  Of course, once it all really went downhill, and for days, weeks, months afterward, the guilt-tripping really hit me.  Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda...  Eventually I came to realize that I had done everything I could in years leading up to it all.  He made choices to eat things he should not have, didn't exercise much because of fatigue from dialysis, etc.  He also didn't ask for help when it would have been a good idea to ask for it.

How do you handle guilt, you ask.  You work on self-forgiveness, or you seek radical acceptance.  You didn't "make" her pass away with your thoughts any more than I made him pass away wishing it was just over, while driving home alone in the dark yet again after visiting in the rehab hospital after working all damn day.

In the midst of this pandemic, I actually am relieved he's gone and that I don't have to worry about him.  Do I experience guilt for even thinking such a thing?  Momentarily, I do, I guess.  it's a moot point, anyhow. 

Just know that anyone who's been in the caregiver role "gets it."  You just wrestle with the guilt feelings, I guess, but it helps to have others who watched you go through it and who can offer you perspective and give reality-checks.  I don't know how I got to the acceptance point... I guess it ended up a stalemate with guilt.  It hasn't gone away, still drops by to taunt me now and again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

James, my dear, it is so interesting to me that when we are totally spent and exhausted from 24/7 caregiving, we may find ourselves wishing that our loved one's suffering would end ~ and then, when the end does come, we beat ourselves up for ever thinking that thought or for ever having that wish ~ as if we had the power to control the course of their illness and the moment of their death. Think for a moment. If we had that kind of power (to wish someone dead) why wouldn't we also have the opposite power ~ to wish them well and completely cured? 

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for your observations. I really hear you Kieron. My wife and I had a joke that her song was one by Toad The Wet Sprocket called "Something's Always Wrong" because, literally there was always a new pain or symptom. She didn't deserve such pain and hardship. I can't help but kick myself for not making her get a glucose monitor that is wearable, but she was her own person and she felt that she could take care of herself like always, even though I had come home a couple of times and found her low. I should have pushed harder.  It's so difficult to not regret choices, but I loved her and wanted her to be happy and I didn't want to take away her freedom- she felt like she was smothered as it was, because I was always nagging her about drinking water, getting enough sleep, etc. etc. etc. 

I would be so worried about the coming fall and winter, because just the two months of COVID she did experience was hard. I still am so angry and resentful about the two weeks she was in the hospital a few weeks before she passed that I couldn't visit. Time lost forever. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, nashreed said:

I didn't want to take away her freedom- she felt like she was smothered as it was, because I was always nagging her about drinking water, getting enough sleep, etc. etc. etc. 

That's exactly it.  Quality of life, and all that.  For him dialysis was like a part-time job that he didn't get paid for, and that consumed his life.  By the last few years of his life, food was about all he could enjoy, and while he didn't overeat and I made him breakfast on his off-dialysis days to reduce the temptation to snack throughout the day, I couldn't control the rest of it.

I'm sorry you missed those 2 weeks with her, and you have every right to feel so.  ☹️

Link to comment
Share on other sites

James, you did not will your wife to die, you only wanted to relieve her of her suffering, there's a big difference, and I don't think there's a one of us that wouldn't wish the same for our spouse!  

Guilt's "purpose" is to call our attention to something that needs changed (not applicable in your situation), once learned/applied, it's important to make the effort to let go of it as it remains no longer guilt but shame, which can hold us there, paralyzing us from moving beyond it to some extent.  I find it common particularly in early grief to go through all of the what ifs in a way looking for some different possible outcome, only there is none but that which happened.  It's kind of like our asking "why?!" but we never get any resounding answers, so we finally cease even asking.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...

I felt guilty  at the beginning  of my journey my Kevin  was addicted  to drugs he passed away from a fentanyl overdose,  I remember  one day going to work and just feeling  so exhausted  from dealing  with it that I said lord I can't  do this anymore  I just need this to stop a few months later  Kevin passed away I felt like god had answered  my prayer in a way I didn't  want ( I am not trying to offend anyone  I know  everyone  has different  beliefs) it took me forever  and Marty reminding  me that I didn't  have that much power  to just wish someone  away  I was just so exhausted  guilt  if a very powerful  emotion  on that can be very hard  to let go of

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh Hon, I'm so glad Marty told you that, we don't have that kind of power so not our fault, and it's not we ever wish anyone gone, but more we don't want the problems we know we'll have to deal with, no one asks for that!  I hope you've been able to let go of that.  I know what a long haul George and I would have had, had he lived, as he was in rehab, it would have hit us in every way, financially, stress, you name it, but I never ever would have wished him gone!  I do believe we would have made it through, he'd made it through a LOT in his life, so I knew for him this was a drop in the bucket.  I believed in him.  But gosh, I never wanted involved with a drug addict, still I was three times, and they all knew how I felt about drugs going into the relationships!  It's a losing situation sometimes!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

After a year, I think my guilt is finally almost gone. I still sometimes feel like I am responsible in some ways, but there were so many wrong choices made in regards to her health, and I know she wouldn't hold me responsible. Like how the botched ankle replacement surgery in 2014 led to her amputation, which, combined with her severe RA, led to her weight gain that made her BMI over a 60, which led to... There was just so many moving parts, I don't know how her doctors kept it straight- and they kinda didn't too. It was just too much, and her poor body just gave out. 

I know she's at peace. She's OK and if she is, I have to be. That was our deal. I know she would want me to be happy. It's just the "How" now that I'm trying to figure out.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@nashreed...doctors didn't give me good diabetic advice all these years and diabetes contributed to my husband's death.  It wasn't until 1 1/2 years ago with George's (iPraseHim) help I learned good sound advice and the truth helped me turn my diabetes around.  I could spend energy lamenting that I didn't know in time to same my husband (or George his wife) but we don't know ahead of time what we often learn in retrospect, hindsight is not available then!  All we can do is continue forward in lieu of that.  I am so sorry she went through so much and that you are now missing her because of it.  :wub:

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...