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Guilt and self blame over loss of father


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My dad, who was very healthy and active, died suddenly last week from a presumed pulmonary embolism. This was related to a knee surgery for a really dumb injury, and unfortunately he was not advised on routine blood clot prevention strategies by the surgeon, although he was started on aspirin, and was also seen in Urgent Care the day of his death and they did not suspect a blood clot. I do not blame these people, although I really wish they had been more thorough, but I very much blame myself. I'm a nurse and aware of the risk of blood clots with these surgeries, but I didn't take the time to talk to him about this and make sure he was aware of symptoms. Hindsight is easier of course, but I feel like I've let down my dad as well as my whole family by not stepping in and making sure he was doing all the right things. At the time it seemed like such a straightforward surgery, and he was doing well, starting PT etc, but I also presumed that his care was covered by the surgeon and that they would have gone over these things as part of the risk of surgery and post op follow up so I just didn't even think to go there--I was finishing up school and accepting a new job and maybe I was just preoccupied. I am kicking myself (putting it lightly) and feel like I will never be able to forgive myself for this. I know guilt is a part of grief but want to know if others have experienced this feeling of responsibility for someone's death (whether direct or indirect) and how they dealt with it. Should I head straight to counseling or give it time? Should I share these feelings with my siblings and other family, or would that be selfish of me? I did share with my mom about my regrets as it just came up in conversation and she told me that she does not blame me and knows that my father wouldn't want me to, but I can't help it. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated. 

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I am so sorry for the loss of your father.  He was under someone else's care and I don't see you as responsible for what happened, regardless of your profession, we are sometimes too close to a situation to see it, you saw your father as your dad, not as a patient, and hindsight is not ours ahead of time.  That said, I know I can't talk you out of feeling as you do.  Feelings are just feelings though and need no actual basis to feel them.  ;)

I do hope these articles will aid you in getting through your guilt feelings...
Guilt and Regret in Grief
Grief and the Burden of Guilt
Guilt In the Wake of a Parent's Death

Address Guilt When Grieving
and this video is helpful as well:

 

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Thank you KayC for the kind words--I had not thought of it that way and it's a good point. I also appreciate the links and video and I will be reading/watching these when I can't sleep tonight I'm sure :) 

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  • 2 weeks later...

kayC I just wanted to let you know that the video you recommended has been so helpful, I’ve been meditating along with it daily and it has been a lifesaver—his advice is to treat yourself like a good friend would, without judgement and with kindness. Such an important message for anyone dealing with guilt. Thank you again for the help. (The articles were great too 🙂)

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13 hours ago, eav said:

his advice is to treat yourself like a good friend would

That is what I have learned in grief!  I'm glad it is helping you as it did me.  :wub:

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