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Guilt over loss of father


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Hi-the previous post of feelings of guilt and blame by a daughter/nurse hit home with me as I am also a nurse and I lost my father and blame myself for poor medical decision making.  My father was 88 with mild dementia- he lived in a nursing home near me and I visited him daily and had caretakers for him.  Unfortunately, during Covid I wasn't able to go in like before- My husband and I had made the decision to bring him to our house the beginning of last June-3 months into Covid.  It was a tough decision as we didn't know our work schedules at the time and we don't have a bathroom on our first floor- had to get a chair lift. Bad luck, but my father fell the week before we were going to move him. He broke some ribs and was in the hospital- I got to be with him in the ER which was great, but then couldn't stay with him in hospital due to Covid restrictions..  3 days later, he got pneumonia and went into respiratory failure and Sepsis.  He ended up in the ICU on a ventilator- this is when my anxiety over working in the ICU several years (30 years prior) came in and I told the team I didn't want to be too aggressive. I know how once you get there it can be a cycle of multiple things going wrong.  We had a family Zoom meeting and although I had initiated this conversation, the medical team seemed to think my father wouldn't do well long term. They said if he stayed off the ventilator, he wouldn't have a quality of life he was happy with.  He had always wanted everything done- aggressive care- unless he was totally dependent.  But we had to interpret this with a grain of salt, as even though he said that- he would not do the little things- like get out of bed to eat or use the incentive spirometer to help take deep breaths. He said no to physical and respiratory therapy and it was always a fight to push him.  We made the decision to put my dad on "comfort care" and take him off the ventilator. Then they let us in to see him and he was alert and knew us.  My brother and I almost changed our mind- we didn't feel he looked as sick as we had believed. We asked the Dr's - who did not know him from before- and they said things like "he is almost 90, it is natural to do comfort care" "he is unlikely to last a month."  They expected him to pass quickly off the ventilator. We made the decision and then off the ventilator, off the blood pressure meds and oxygen- he lasted 8 days on morphine- it was horrible to watch- we felt we euthanized him and that he was stronger than they believed. I have talked to a hospice grief counselor who said often people regret doing too much, but in my heart, I feel my Dad may have pulled through and we didn't give him a choice. Unfortunately this is something we have to live with now. 

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I am going through similar with my sister (her husband of 50 years died a few months ago), she has dementia and fell and broke six ribs.  She was in the hospital 1 1/2 weeks and now in a horrid care center, they won't release her yet, I think they're milking the $ for it, they've given her tomato soup the last six nights for dinner (her dentures broke in the fall as did her glasses), they're not taking adequate care of her and I just want her home.  They said she's not mentally competent but they do not know her, I am the one who is in her everyday life and have been for all these years!  The pain medication caused her hallucinations and I believe having her in her surroundings will be helpful to her.  But with no POA we're at their mercy.  My sister is only  77 but never took care of herself, only recently quit smoking and has never exercised, she also carries damaged equilibrium from a car accident 52 years ago.  

That said, I know you love your father and did what you thought best at the time, please be easy on yourself, he would not want you beating yourself up.  It is very hard knowing what to do in the moment we are going through it, we don't have the benefit of hindsight in the foresight!  We can't know what "would have happened" but at 90 likely didn't have a lot of years left...still, I know this is little consolation to you right now.  I just beg of you to try to be understanding of yourself, as to how all of this went down, and the state YOU were in as you were going through these decisions, never easy!  I can tell you, from my recent experience with Peggy, this has been a LOT of stress and overwhelming!  My BP shot up 70 points when she fell June 3rd, and I've been battling it ever since (even being on three Rxs for it).  Doing prayer/meditations and it helps but still way too high for my comfort.  

Taking walks, breathing exercises, learning to let go and forgive ourselves the rest, it's about all I know to do.  I just want to say my heart really goes out to you, none of this is easy.
 

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Thanks, she wants to be in her home so I'll be back and forth a lot.  I'm sorry for all you've been going through as well.

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