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How do you deal with guilt when a parent dies?

Started 1268241585.143 in Viewpoints | Last reply 1268368977.843 by victoria girl

My mom died quickly, a little unexpectedly late Monday afternoon.  She was 82 and had a myriad of health issues.  The last five years were filled with calls helping her at home when she fell, then getting her into an assisted living, moving her from there to skilled nursing, and all the paperwork, insurance, Medicaid application, foreclosure of her home, etc.  I have four siblings, only one ever helped at all, and actually all of this brought us very much closer. 


My question, how do you deal with guilt over feeling relief?   I know my mom lived a great life, she had a great life with my dad who passed 15 years ago this week, and she was loved and well cared for always.  The circle of life thing doesn't bother me.  We all live, we all die.


But it's this realization that I don't have to fill out mountains of paperwork, legal forms, run to the hospital, authorize care, "take care of buisiness" as they say...it's a relief and I feel bad, because I did it because it needed to be done and I wanted to do it, but now I feel bad for feeling relief that it's over.



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MJ121268241786.90313879 PostsRegistered 12/30/2009

((((((((((Choos))))))))))))) I am so sorry for your loss.  I lost my Mom 2 years ago.  You will go through such a range of emotions, and they are all normal.  I can honestly say, I didn't feel 'ok' for about a year and a half. 

You took care of your Mom when she needed you most, you should have no guilt at all. 

kaybee1268241860.1278507 PostsRegistered 7/3/2006Wisconsin

Oh, I'm sorry about your mom, Choos. My mother will be 80 this month and so far she's of sound mind and ok health but I know I'll be facing those same issues with her sooner or later.

About guilt.....or relief....take the relief as a blessing right now. I know when my father passed away I felt the same way. His final two years he got really honery at times and I think it's natures way of helping us accept their loss.

JJsMom1268241882.15320010 PostsRegistered 10/25/2007

Oh, Choos... my deepest condolences to you and your family. I think it's normal to feel relief when someone who has battled many health issues passes away. It doesn't mean you are not sad or don't miss them. I think you should allow yourself to feel any way you want without feeling guilty. Mourning is such a difficult, personal, and different journey for everyone. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts.

briiii1268241957.9676305 PostsRegistered 2/18/2010Chicago

I'm sorry about your mom's passing, choos.


I think relief will eventually fade away.  There are so many emotions to losing someone you're close to and have taken care of.  


lulu21268242089.3723295 PostsRegistered 8/1/2007

I am sorry for your loss.  You should not feel guilty, and I can understand your feeling of relief.  You did everything you possibly could to help your mother when she was alive.  Guilt is reserved for those (generic) who are too busy to help.

Noel71268242676.5934868 PostsRegistered 8/8/2007

Oh, Choos... I'm sorry for your loss.  You have my sympathy... losing a mother is so difficult.

You're already doing what you need to do to get over any feelings of guilt, you're talking about it to people who care about you.

And keep in mind that we don't just suffer the one death we're dealing with.  That death brings up feelings from all the other loses we've had.

My best to you, the good daughter.

"Oh, mother country, I do love you."
John Stewart

ratdog1111268242720.20314924 PostsRegistered 10/27/2008

I am so sorry for your loss.

I can't tell you how to feel, and yes, there is relief when a loved one who has been sick and whose care was demanding passes on.

Accept the guilt as part of your grieving process. It will subside, your mother is probably as relieved to be free of her body as you are to see her relieved of her suffering.

Be good to yourself. Talk to a counseler, pastor, or close friend about how you feel.

You did your best for your mom and that is what matters.

stl-laura1268242851.3073153 PostsRegistered 5/24/2007st louis! - gateway to the west!!

Choos - my deepest sympathy on losing your mom - it must be very hard to go thru what you have for the past 5 years, and your mind and body do what it needs to keep you as healthy as possible - I'm fairly sure that the relief will fade into grief when you are ready - bless you for caring for her, I know she truly appreciated what you did...



...so raise your glass if you are wrong, in all the right ways - All my underdogs, we will never be anything, anything but loud & nitty gritty, dirty little freaks...

Oceanview1268242945.013192 PostsRegistered 2/23/2009

Sorry to hear of your loss!

Your emotion is natural.  Don't feel guilty.  We just lost my DH father two weeks ago and we both felt such relief and release.  I myself felt like a huge rock was lifted off my chest.  We loved him and took care of him and his wishes.  Part of us were relieved that he did not have to suffer for months on end with his second bout of cancer.

Being the principle caregiver or guardian is work!  This has to be fitted in with our lives and it is very demanding and draining.  Find comfort in the fact that you were there for your Mother and you are able to put your head down at night with peace that you did all you could do for her.  I feel your other siblings will have to deal with their own conscience over their neglect to your Mother and to you. 

Peace and acceptance to you!  Well done good and faithful servant!

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Lotus1268242980.23737443 PostsRegistered 6/23/2006Long Island, NY

Oh Choos.....I'm so sorry for your loss.

Wishing you the best to get thru this difficult time..........I'm sure you did your best......don't feel guilty for feeling relief.  You were there for her when it mattered.

Still Lotus~
"Don't let anyone steal your hope."
"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”― Mark Twain

Jerz girl1268243178.517723 PostsRegistered 8/24/2009Jersey...Paramus in Bergen County


I'm very sorry to hear about your mother's passing, I extend my deepest sympathy to you and your family.  Lean on God and he will give you the strength, may you find peace and comfort in your time of sorrow.  The loss of a parent is very profound and losing a mother is the saddest part of life...give you self time to mourn...anger and guilt are part of the grieving process, allow yourself to go through all the feelings, and cry.  Do not feel guilty because you feel "relief" that the responsibility is finally over, a weight has been lifted off your shoulders and it is okay and so normal to feel the way you are.  Try not to beat yourself up or over anyizlize your feelings; you loved your mother, you grieved when your mother died and it's okay to feel "relief" now that your free...nothing to feel guilty about; sorrow can be expressed in many ways and it's challenging.


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Don't hate me because you ain't me!:)

pghgolfgirl1268243279.837426 PostsRegistered 1/7/2005Pittsburgh

I lost my beloved mother on February 12th, so I'm going through much the same as you are.  I believe that after dealing with all of the health issues beforehand, the death and funeral itself, it isn't unusual to be feeling relief when it's all over.  I'm relieved that my mother didn't suffer any longer than she did.  I'm relieved that I don't worry every time the phone rings.  And I KNOW I'll be relieved once we get the estate probated and sell her real estate.  Don't beat yourself up - it's a very normal and healthy emotion.  Take care.

Go Pens!!!

A House is not a Home without a little fur in it!!

kdgn1268243410.50714396 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

Choos- That is normal, believe me.  I am feeling some guilt over my mother although she's still living. She's in a skilled nursing facility and I had to do all the paperwork you wrote about. That part is over and all I do now is visit and do her laundry (my choice). Because it's skilled nursing I no longer have to take her to doctor's appointments, hair appointments, etc. If there is a problem I'm called and told what's being/been done with it---I no longer have to dash over there and decide if she needs to be transported to Urgent Care, the ER or drive her myself to the doctor. I don't have to take her for lab work or x-rays....they do it all and let me know. No more phone calls to check on her or test results. The guilt is there because I, too, feel relieved that I don't have to "do it all"------ But I also know that it's awfully darn hard to "do it all".


My  condolences on your Mom's death, she is a peace with your dad.

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Some not only have closed their minds to new truth, but they sit on the lid.
Dr. Dale E. Turner

Me And My ­Shadow1268243927.9871087 PostsRegistered 1/8/2009

(((((Choos))))).....So sorry to hear about your Mom....sending my heartfelt sympathy your way.

Grief involves so many different emotions....so just let yourself feel whatever....and know that you will always be comforted by the fact that you did the best that you could and gave your Mom wonderful loving care and she knew you were always there for her...such a comforting consolation for you.

Being a caregiver can be very draining....emotionally, physically and financially....especially when you are the only caregiver....My husband and I are the only caregivers for his parents....My FIL went through cancer for about eight months, and I ended up having to leave my part-time job...so I would be available to take him to his chemo treatments and many Drs.' visits in between....hospital stays and finally a nursing facility....plus take care of the needs of my MIL....while also taking care of our own home and responsibilities....It was all very overwhelming and exhausting.

My husband wasn't as affected, since he still had his job to go to...which was a healthy distraction for him...so his life continued on pretty much the same....My FIL passed on at the end of December which was a blessing for the family, as he was failing and the family certainly didn't want to see him suffer....He went gently and quietly.....He lived a long life.

And, yes, I felt the same as you....much relief....for my FIL as much as for myself.....He went through so much....We had a wonderful, loving bond...especially during the last eight months....and he was so very appreciative....I feel that the relief is a very normal feeling to go through....It is not selfish in any way.....You feel relief for both your Mom and yourself...and that is perfectly okay!

Find comfort in all the memories that you shared and, as I mentioned above,   in knowing that you were always there for your Mom...a very loving caring daughter.

I sincerely hope that my sharing helps you during this difficult time for you....Just allow yourself to grieve and feel while, at the same time, taking good care of yourself and pampering yourself which you so deserve.

Smile You gave much of yourself, (((((Choos)))))...and there will be much peace in your heart knowing that you were always there for your Mom...which wil help you greatly in your grief.

Sending Many (((((Hugs)))))..

P.S.:  Sorry, didn't mean to write a book....just wanted to reach out to you and share....do all I could to help you during this difficult time.















catprincess1268244034.742365 PostsRegistered 4/9/2007Rocky Mountains

So sorry to hear about your Mom's death!  Your story is the same as mine 2 years ago.  My Mom went from assisted living to the hospital and then to a hospice, all her choice.  She was 88 and in very poor health.  I had only my husband for support.  None of my other family did a thing.  It was such a relief when she died after only a week in the hospice.  I hadn't realised what a burden it was until after she died!  She is at peace now.  I am still receiving bills that her Medicare suppliment paid-thank goodness.  I miss her so much, but the Mom of 20 years ago that I had such good times with.  Remember the good times and try and take care of yourself.  Build walls around your heart if you have to.

grannyjann­ie1268244531.5578724 PostsRegistered 11/17/2006West of the Windy City

I think that it might take a while to stop feeling guilty, but eventually you will realize that it's okay to feel that way - you DID have a lot of things to attend to while she was so sick!

It's wonderful that you can say you know she had a wonderful life and was loved.  Smile

May you soon feel the peace about it all that you obviously deserve.

Hopeless Romantic :)

ChoosandMa­nolos1268336863.3375013 PostsRegistered 7/2/2006

Thank you everyone for the kind words.  At least the sun has been out here in CNY, a rare thing for March, and that helps. 

miss_Moria1268337309.135537 PostsRegistered 4/15/2009Somewhere between Shangri La and Heaven

Choos, I'm so sorry for your loss.  I will wish  Sumerlands on your mom and I know at Samhain you can honor her.  I pray that the Goddess will help you lessen your relief at her passing and you will begin to focus on her in the Summerlands. 

All we are is the result of what we have thought. Buddha

NChgOfMyAt­titude1268337452.845204 PostsRegistered 10/18/2006Connecticut

I'm so sorry for the loss of your Mom. Once the initial grief subsides I'm sure your guilt will too. You have nothing to feel guilty about, you did all you could and I'm sure she appreciated that. It's a normal reaction to be glad something you dreaded doing is finished, you just have to separate that fact with the fact that you did it out of love for your mother and would do it again probably in a heartbeat. Don't be so hard on yourself. Your Mom was lucky to have such a wonderful daughter. Be well.

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Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it ~
Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time ~

CherN1268337496.757511 PostsRegistered 2/13/2008

I am sorry for your loss.  I am however living that life you describe in the last year of your mom's life.  I have been to ER, care facilities, etc. more times then I care to remember.  I know you loved your mom and you did a lot for her (probably more than most), but you shouldn't feel any guilt about her being gone.  She lived her life with a great daughter around her to help - but now it's your turn.  When my mom finally goes, I will cherish the time we spent together and move forward with my own life - whatever time I may have left.



beach music1268337792.13329065 PostsRegistered 4/16/2007

i am so sorry, choos...i know how you are feeling, my friend.

...it wasn't guilt for me,  but the relief that their ordeal and suffering was over.

"don't get so tolerant that you tolerate intolerance." bill maher

RedheadRed­oux1268337905.8972094 PostsRegistered 12/29/2008In my daylily garden



so sorry.

Yeah......I said it.

Sooner1268338058.0616629 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

You deal with it by not thinking about it and dwelling on it.  Sometimes what is IS, and you move on with life.  There are things that aren't as we would like them to be, and things we can't deal with as we think we ought to, and things we can't change.  Emotions and thoughts are often something we can't control, so we just remember we are human, and go on.  ALL of us are like that.

I don't think any of us who have been in this situation can't empathize with you.  But don't worry about it!  OK?

rietzel1268339768.6771753 PostsRegistered 8/17/2006

i am so sorry for your loss and know how difficult and painful this is.

I had to do this for my Mother who had to go into a nursing home 2 weeks before without any warning my husband suddenly passed away.  For the year my Mom was in the nursing home I had to go every day to see her after I had worked all day and then on Saturday and Sundays.  I adored my Mom but truly with my husband's sudden death I had to deal with his passing and her being in a nursing home - It was beyond hard but you do what you have to do.

When she passed 1 year almost to the day my husband died my grief was immense but I had a sense of relief.  I could finally breathe again.  I will miss her forever.

Do not feel guilty.  You did what you had to do and now she is in a better place.  She does not want you to suffer feeling guilty.



shorelady1268339785.3132972 PostsRegistered 12/27/2005

Choose....condolences on the loss of your Mom.

Your feelings are not unique or uncaring.  When my 80 year old Mom died years ago, I was embarrassed and felt guilty to think that it was almost a relief.  She was sick for many years, and as an only child, it was my responsibility to care for her and do all the things you have posted.  My father was still living, but had the same attitude throughout their married life.  And that was "hurray for me, and who cares about anyone else". Since he didn't drive, I had to arrange babysitters for my own children so that I could take her for her doctor's appointments, fill out paperwork, visit constantly in either the hospital or nursing home, shop, etc.  But I know you have also gone through all these facets of the same situation.

Everyone grieves differently.  Just because you aren't collapsing in a mountain of tears, doesn't mean you didn't love your Mom and miss her.  Sometimes we can be at peace with ourselves knowing we did our best for our parents when they were alive.

My Mom always said not to wear black to her funeral or else she would come back to haunt me (and I knew she would!).  I wore a red blazer and know, for a fact, that there were family members who gossiped and whispered about my choice behind my back.  But since it was something between my Mom and myself, I never bothered to explain. Style of dress and outward emotions are not a gauge for how we truly feel.

Please do not feel guilty or ashamed.  Our Moms are at peace, and we know we did the best we could when it really counted. You can smile to yourself and be proud of the daughter you were. I'm sure your Mom is smiling down and saying thank you!

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