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Grieve or Guilt???


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My dad passed away Wednesday, January 18, 2006 @ 8:47 p.m. Tuesday night he started to cough during my visit. When he started to cough he always would vomit. The problem was that he was on a BI-PAP machine that forced air into your lungs. Instantly I realized that he couldn't throw-up while he had that mask on. I did the only thing I could and screamed for the nurse. She came in and started removing the mask and I placed a towel under his chin until the nurse could grab something else. He stopped coughing and vomiting while she ran for a towel. I was so scared and he started turning blue...really blue. I tried to put the mask back on him but he began saying no Beth no! I didn't know what to do and started to cry. He was gasping for air. The nurse forced the mask back on his face. He was still yelling no Beth and I ran to get my mom. My dad suffered all night and the next morning he told my mom and I he couldn't live like that and he was so miserable. He passed late that evening.

My problem is I don't know what he was saying...he may have wanted to go then. Im feeling like I may have prolonged his misery. I guess I'll never know, but I feel awful...like I did something terrible. My dad wouldn't have wanted to live on machines I know, but what should or could I have done. Im so terribly sorry I handed the mask to the nurse and she had to put it back on him. He looked at me and said no Beth no!

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Oh Beth, I am so very sorry to hear about your loss. Please don't feel guilty. You did the exact thing that I would have done. When we are so scared, we do what we think is right. I'm sure your dear dad knew that you were trying to help him. I am so very sorry!

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Hi Beth,

First, my condolences on the passing of your dad. What you went through was so incredibly hard to deal with.... I understand that but...

As I see it, you panicked and did not know what to do. I probably would have done the same. I would just want my dad to live even if he said no Maryanne no. That is just a natural instinct. There is no reason to 2nd guess what you did or what he was trying to say. You are not physic; you just knew you did not want him to go.

I know he is looking down and you and feeling really bad that you are feeling guilty. His pain is over, but he will not be content until you realize how much he loves you and wants you to know you did NOTHING wrong.

Please Beth, stop beating yourself up over this, just get on with has to be done now and take care of you mom as she needs you.

My prayers are with you and your family.


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Dear Beth,

I got very tearful when I read your post because the exact same thing happened with my mom who died in Jan. 1999. I had been with her day and night at the hospital for a week before her death, and she was comfortable, but declining, not eating, and it was her time to go.

The day before she died, she had me get my brother and sisters and her best friend, one by one on the phone and she told them all good-bye--she had already told our dad good-bye. Suddenly, the next afternoon she yanked off her mask - she was on 100% oxygen at that point. I gently went to put it back on and she angrily yanked it back off again. This happened about three times and the nurse had come in. She very gently said, "It's ok, Lucy. We'll just let it stay off for a minute." She then gently tried to put it on again and my mom angrily yanked it off with strength she didn't have. She never opened her eyes during all this, but her facial expression said it all. My mom NEVER NEVER let anybody else EVER tell her what to do - NOBODY!!!! I looked at the nurse and told her to just leave it off. The nurse said, "Are you sure?" and I said, "Yes." Her O2 level went down in the 40s very quickly after that and she hung on for a few hours before she passed.

I realize that my decision was different than yours. It's horribly frightening to see someone you love so much gasping for air. In that moment, all that any of us can do is what seems best at that moment - and that's what you did. There is absolutely no reason for guilt because you were only trying to help him and save him. I knew, without a doubt, that mom was ready to go, wanted to go, had asked forgiveness of the Lord, and had said good-bye to all her kids, and that she would have fought us with every ounce of strength she had left because, like I said, SHE made the decisions and nobody else.

I pray with all my heart that you will put this behind you and believe and know that you did what was best at that moment for your dad. Only in a case similar to mine (I knew she was 100% competent, I knew the only thing keeping her alive was the oxygen, and I knew 100% that she was ready to go) would it be easy to make a decision like I did. I could have laid a guilt trip on myself for doing the exact opposite of what you did. I could have said I killed my mom, or always wondered if I did the right thing, and could she possibly have survived if we had forced the mask, but I never did go on that guilt trip. So, you see, either way you could "allow" yourself to feel guilty. Don't carry that around, honey. You did what was right.

God bless you!



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Unless you are bona fide medical professional with experience in Nursing end phase cancer patients, then you absolutely MUST stop thinking along these lines. You did exactly what you should have done under the circumstances: turned over the mask to the Nurse.

I know this is easier said than done. I think most of us question our actions when we are the ones present through a medical crisis. But Beth, you really didn't do anything wrong. You did not contribute to your Father's sufferring.

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Oh Beth -

Do not feel guilty... you have done everything for your Dad....and have loved him every step of the way. You certainly did exactly what I would have done. I talked to a hospice nurse friend of mine who said that by starving him for air, you would have caused so much more discomfort .... she said you did what 99% of people would do and exactly what her hospice group tells all caretakers to do.

I am so sorry for your lost, but I feel so much worse that you are worrying about this. Your dad is free from everything now and has taken a glorious journey. I am positive that he would not want you to be thinking about this, but would want you rembering all the great memories.

Prayers for you that you feel God's peace.


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Don't second guess yourself. You did the only thing that you knew to do. It could be that was not even what your dad meant. You will learn that often guilty feelings are often a big part of grief even when you have no reason to feel that way. Please be kind to yourself. You have enough to deal with right now and I'm sure your dad would not want to see you add guilt to everything else.

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