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why all the GUILT?!?
Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 5:30 PM
Joined: 4/5/2013
Posts: 863

No, I'm not feeling guilty. But I am feeling mighty sorry for all the caregivers on this forum who struggle with that awful feeling, so I'm sending this old post to the top (ttt.)  

Guilt puts a knot in your stomach and a pain in your chest. It tightens up your throat and stings your eyes. It keeps you up at night and erodes your ability to concentrate. But grief, anxiety, fear, and stress can create those same physical sensations.  How do we figure out what is causing those terrible feelings? 

I believe many caregivers mistakenly attribute all unpleasant feelings to "guilt." It especially happens when we are caring for a parent because our parents are the ones who taught us right from wrong. Guilt springs from knowing that you are "breaking the rules" and Mom & Dad were our original rule-makers.

Please, fellow "guilty" caregivers, ask yourself what rule you are breaking in the care of your LO???? I found a nice little exercise about unmasking guilt on this website:

After a little introspection, some of you may decide that you are NOT "guilty" of anything at all. Maybe you are afraid, stressed, lonely, confused, overwhelmed, or anxious. Those are all horrible feelings, but they do not make you a "bad person." Cut yourself some slack. Forgive yourself for your shortcomings, and forgive your LO for their their illness. Forgiveness will bring calm to you and your loved ones. This is a tough road. Absent of wrongdoing, jettison the shame and guilt!!!!

Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 5:35 PM
Joined: 1/28/2013
Posts: 2647

Well said.
Veterans kid
Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 7:45 PM
Joined: 10/17/2014
Posts: 1239

Cody, thank you so much for posting this! I know I have been "guilty" (pun intended 😋) of this and I'm sure many of us are or have been. I'm going to try the exercise.
I hope you're having a good day 😊

Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 8:22 PM
Joined: 7/29/2014
Posts: 217

Cody, thanks for the post, that site was a good read.

Be Strong 2
Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 9:15 PM
Joined: 12/14/2011
Posts: 1751

At my grief support group this morning one of the items discussed was guilt. If it is determined that you did something wrong that you deserve to feel guilty for, then confess and ask forgiveness. If you can't or don't see that as an option, then your "guilt" is a false guilt. It may be more that you are angry, indecisive, tired, or just grieving the ongoing loss.

I've always taken the attitude of "I'm doing the best I can." If guilt tries to sneak in, just kick it out. As caregivers, doing the best we can, there should be no guilt.

Ditch the Guilt!

Remember, we're all in the same boat; and the darn thing leaks!


Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2015 9:56 AM
Joined: 7/30/2013
Posts: 6033

I have noticed that guilt is a recurring theme on the Caregivers board. It's like you're going back to your childhood. You think that your mommy or daddy isn't happy and it must be something that you did or didn't do. But, stop and think about it. What have you done intentionally to cause them harm? Don't count losing your temper. That happens to the best of us.

If they are unhappy, you are not the one who caused it. This awful disease caused it. You can't cure the disease, all that you can do is see to it that your loved one gets the best care possible. If your choices seem to make them angry, upset, or unhappy, it isn't your fault. All that you can do is what you can do. None of us is a superhero. Pat yourselves on the back for doing a great job! If Mom and Dad are unable to show their gratitude in this life, they will in the next.

The Typing Room
Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2015 3:33 PM
Joined: 6/4/2015
Posts: 40

Greetings, CodyW ~

Thank you for posting many, especially children of ALZ victims do feel "guilty" and you're so right it's usually another feeling entirely. I never felt guilty so much as "inadequate" in dealing with what she was going through. That experience had never happened to me before...I could always "fix" things, make situations "work out," be the UN negotiator for any crisis. And yet, I was clearly going to be defeated by what was happening with her. Then I realized the only approach that was going to work was to embrace what I began to call "The Power of NOW." If my mother was living in the moment, then I better be there with her and experience her world and not what the world I wanted, or even needed. This was the only thing that "saved" me and all the remaining years I spent with my mom was all the better for it. I knew her final time was coming and went to say "good bye," and to let her know everything with me was going to be okay...that she should be free to let go and not worry about me or anyone else in our family. Subsequently, they all did come to see her a month later, and the following month she passed away quietly and peacefully. (In case you are wondering, we all did keep up with our visits, but she was practically comatose and never woke up during any of our visits.) I never felt guilty because I knew whe would understand. Dreams I had of her after her death confirmed that she was in her "mansion..." I think often and am so grateful she was my mother!

Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2015 11:21 PM
Joined: 9/18/2013
Posts: 243

Oh, boy Cody did your post come at the right time. I needed to hear it.
Posted: Thursday, July 27, 2017 7:35 PM
Joined: 6/8/2017
Posts: 105

Great post. Thanks!
Posted: Thursday, July 27, 2017 9:44 PM
Joined: 1/12/2014
Posts: 394

Thank you for bringing this ttt! Just what I needed to read tonight!
Posted: Thursday, July 27, 2017 11:12 PM
Joined: 9/2/2015
Posts: 103

Thank does help.  However, some of us poor souls were raised Catholic and Korean and trained to feel guilty for not making our parents happy.  Fortunately, my work pays for counseling.  At least my head knows what is going I just need to convince the heart.
Posted: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 1:42 PM
Joined: 6/12/2015
Posts: 1131

This is a great post. I've noticed all the guilt too, and have experienced some of it myself. I agree with you totally. We've done the best we could, given it our all, and still it wasn't enough. It's hard not to feel regretful and sad and it's almost as if I let MYSELF down because I thought I could do everything and manage it all, and then I found out that nope, I couldn't. Nobody wants to let our loved one(s) down, or not be able to live up to expectations (including our own), but sometimes those promises and expectations can be unrealistic. It's not our fault for "failing" when expectations were too high. What was workable for a while might not work as the LO deteriorates and needs more than we can give. We haven't failed; the situation has changed and sometimes the changes present too much. Everybody has limits even when trying to be our superhuman best.
Posted: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 1:46 PM
Joined: 5/31/2017
Posts: 9

Great post. Thanks for sharing.
Posted: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 9:15 PM
Joined: 11/27/2016
Posts: 10

Thank you for writing this - big struggle with this recently. I feel alone at times as I'm an only child and the one making decisions as my mom is unable to make decisions for herself. 

I'm glad I saw this post today. Thanks again.

Posted: Monday, November 11, 2019 10:48 AM
Joined: 10/9/2014
Posts: 1091

Cody makes some excellent points.
Posted: Monday, November 11, 2019 2:22 PM
Joined: 6/11/2019
Posts: 517

THANK YOU, CODY W.!!!! After a weekend where I lost it a little too much -- and would have even more without some kind of divine intervention that provided restraint -- I really needed to see this.

I think it comes down to being SO hard to see them as miserable as they are sometimes … and not really being able to do much, if anything, about it.

Posted: Monday, November 11, 2019 7:45 PM
Joined: 4/7/2019
Posts: 115

That's a great post, and one that I should take to heart.

My problem is that I've got the generalized Catholic guilt - and I can go from zero to guilty in about four seconds. So, when I'm taking care of my sister, if I screw up, even a little bit, the guilt is right there.

Intellectually I know none of this is my fault, and that I'm doing the best I can. And on occasion I think, "what would my parents do in this situation?", and I honestly think they would probably do much of the same things that I'm doing. The guilt persists.    So yeah, it's a work in progress.
Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2019 4:49 AM
Joined: 4/3/2019
Posts: 257

Cody- GREAT post!!  Guilt is something I truly struggle with.  Guilt and shame are feelings/ways of being which my mother tried very hard to inculcate into me my entire life, and it worked for a long, long time. 

I'm just now realizing, I really have nothing to feel guilty about.  I'm honest, I work hard, I'm good to people, and I've done more for my parents than anyone else on this planet.  And it goes back a LONG ways . . . even as a teenager I was tasked with a huge amount of responsibility, including taking my brother to his doctor/dentist appointments, doing all the housework, shopping for groceries, cooking, etc, on top of going to school, being an athlete and having a part time job.  And as an adult, oof, even more.  

We must forgive ourselves when we get annoyed/upset etc . . . we are carrying a LOT, and we are only human.  Ever notice that the people who try to make you feel guilty believe they are entitled to whatever feelings they have, but when *we* have feelings/react to something, then we are horrible people?