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Caregivers Who Have Lost Someone
Feeling guilty 2 years later
I don't post much anymore since my mom passed away almost 2 years ago. Now I'm more often filled with guilt for the times I lost my patience or couldn't deal with all the issues. I got mad at her, yelled back a couple of time when I was at the end of my rope and general didn't always deal with things as well as I could.
Don't get me wrong, I'd say 99% of the time I was doing the best I could it was OK, but there were times I just got frazzled or frustrated or was tired or all of those and I wasn't patient, loving and kind.
Nov I feel so guilty for that. It seems like I should have been nice and caring and compassionate 100% of the time since looking back now, I'm starting to forget how horribly hard it was and just beating myself up for not always handling it better.
Anyway, no point to this post, just an observation on how I'm feeling 2 years.
Hi parkerj242, I know exactly what you mean. When I think about the 99 out of a hundred times I was gentle, loving, and kind I just shrug my shoulders and think that's what I was supposed to do. But when I think about that one time out of a hundred when I was frustrated, angry, or yelled, I'm hard on myself.
I consciously know 100% means perfection, and I'm not able to be perfect. The strange thing is that is even though it sounds as if I'm a perfectionist, really I'm an imperfectionist because that's what I focus on; my failures instead of my successes. In real-estate they say what's important is "Location, location, location". I think in having a healthy self-image, what's important is for me to "Focus, focus, focus"...on the 99 gentle, loving, and kind things I did. But maybe that stinking thinking is what keeps me human and humble. It's not my dominant thought, but it does raise it's ugly head occasionally. I think I should be just as gentle, loving, and kind with myself as I was with others. That'll be my focus for the day. Thank you for getting me to think about my self-abuse.
For guilt repentance helps. It helps a lot. And you have already started doing it here. Prayers for your mom. Also, there are so many moms and dads here in this world that need some type of help. Help them, go volunteer. Go to your city's soup kitchen and volunteer there. It will help a lot. May the Lord help you.
There are days when the rational thinking part of me is able to remind myself that ALZ is a neurological disease, that these diseases have awful presentation with hard to tolerate behavior even for most health professionals (I mean, who isn't irritated by the same stinkin' repeated question 23 times in 10 minutes?) Then, there are others, when all I can think about is the hurt, however fleeting, I caused with impatient words.
About 5 years after my Mom died, one Christmas night I was taking the garbage out, and brooding about something. Then, it was one of those aha moments. It was a clear night sky, with lots of stars out, and all I could think of was how I missed her and I wished I could talk to her for just 5 minutes - no, just 10 seconds. A very clear, clear, thinking moment came to me, it was like she herself reached out to pat me on the head.
No mother who truly loved their child would EVER want them to be haunted for years by a few seconds of impatience, they would want them to focus on a lifetime of love and the relationship.
Regrets still come back from time to time, but they are just that - regrets, not guilt. Human we all are.
Often, I feel the same way. My mother passed away from AD 17 years ago. My father passed away from AD 5 years ago. I think of all the things I should have done differently. Then I think of what I did. I did the best I could at the time. No one is perfect or could ever be. I have my regrets as well, as most do. But I was there, everyday, doing what now I look at as almost impossible. I don't know where I got the strength from, love, I guess, I did my best. Was it enough, sometimes and sometimes not.
We care, we walked along side them and tried to buffer this disease as much as possible for them. Your loved one would say, Thank You, for loving me so much, for trying so hard for me.
We will slide back and think of what we didn't do, or should have done, it's because we care deeply and when someone hurts, we hurt, we feel for them.
I wish you peace in your heart.
Parker, guilt is ALWAYS a part of the grief process. If it wasn't this issue, your mind would find something else to create guilt. Like whether or not you made a correct decision for care. The only thing that's important, is to not allow ourselves to get STUCK in that rut. This disease has already taken your mom, don't let it take you also.
Try to make your heart felt apologies to her, either in a letter, or spoken out loud at her grave. And then whenever this guilt pops into your mind, immediately change your thoughts to something else. Over time, you will work yourself out of this loop.
I have no doubt, you did the very best you could at the time. I'm sure your mom forgives you for any of your real or perceived shortcomings.
may I share my thoughts with you..we each did the best we could at that moment in time..being a caregiver to an Alzheimer loved one is the hardest job I ever had..and as an Rn with much mental health experience..I still had my moments when I would holler give me strength..because I felt I was at the end of my patience rope..it was not because I was angry at her I was angry because I could not make her situation better..Margie was a good mother and did not deserve alzheimers..she loved life..and friends and was a giver of herself to others when needed.
This I know for sure my friend when a mother or father dies..part of you never gets over it..the connection is so strong throughout your life that when time changes everything..you are never ready for what happens. so we each need to cherish the moments we did have and feel gratitude for them and keep them in our hearts and know we loved them so much we can never let that feeling go.
"To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world"
It is the love and the deep loss without another chance to do some things differently that can make us be so hard on ourselves and even have us second guessing ourselves and our decisions.
We who care and loved deeply often seem to forget all the very wonderful, special and loving things we did over those years of dementia; the special efforts we made that actually made a difference for our LO. Human nature being what it is, we tend to forget our positives and focus on what we may feel was remiss in our own eyes.
That is a very normal part of the process of the loss as we work through our grief and there is no time limit on this. Each of us goes through this on our own individual time table.
thao, you did the very best you could do under the circumstances with the significant challenges at hand. Your father was safe, secure and had care; you did not abandon your beloved father, you were still there and able to be the loving adult child without being the wornout, frazzled, sleep-deprived primary care provider.
There is no perfection in any of this; there is only the best one can do. We are all human beings and therefore, we are not ever perfect and we all have our flaws to one degree or another. Sometimes we may get tightlipped and say something we did not mean; that is something that can happen to anyone. Feeling angry at what is happening is also part of the journey for most carers. In fact, we see these dynamics are discussed many times on this Message Board; you were not alone in this regard and are in very good company.
As for "lying" to your father, you were not lying to him out of spite; you were actually doing a kindness by easing his mind by using what is termed a, "therapeutic fib." This kept him from having meltdowns and lashing out. It made the dynamic a little less like a stick of dynamite with a lit fuse. This was done FOR him, not TO him.
Also, my dear, you did not kill your father with his various favorite foods or treats. It takes many, many years for a condition such as his to become a reality and then to go on to become as severe as it was. If during this time of his dementia, if he had lived on vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and olive oil, the outcome would still have been the same. Truly.
Sit in a quiet place and go back with closed eyes and think very softly and carefully recalling all the special efforts and special things you did for your father; those will far outweigh what you are now processing. It is a matter of perspective.
I've been there and I understand.
You are a compassionate and caring person; I send warmest of thoughts your way,