Sunday, February 8, 2009

Did I Do enough?

So it's over two years since Mom finally passed peacefully away and I'm finally getting used to the idea and feeling good about the things I was able to do for her during her last, dark years. No more guilt and no more regrets. It has taken all this time.

Before she died, a friend who had been down a similar path with his mother said this to me: "Bob, no matter how much you have done for her, when she dies you will feel like you didn't do enough." I listened respectfully and thought: 'Not me. I've been there for her through all the trying stunts she pulled as her mind and temperament went down the tubes.'

He was right, of course. From the moment the last shovel full of earth fell on her coffin until just a few months ago, I was hit with full fledged guilt for all the squandered opportunities to do even more for her—that I didn't do. The more that time passed, the more my memory focused on positive things in our mutual past and the less clearly I recalled the negatives—and the guiltier I felt.

There's no help for it. So I'll say to you what was said to me: "No matter how much you have done for your loved one, when death finally comes you will probably feel like you didn't do enough."

If it happens to you, roll with it. I'm told now by experts in caregiving that it's a common feeling and that it passes. I can now say it's true.

It passes!

Bob Tell
Author, "Dementia-Diary, A Caregiver's Journal"


rilera said...

I'm so glad to hear it passes. My mother passed away on 1/13/09 and I feel guilt about moving her to assisted living (she declined more quickly after the move) and lots of other things that I could have done differently.

Bob Tell said...

Hello Rilera--Thanks for your comment. I can assure you that your feelings are normal. I go into much more detail in my book, "Dementia Diary," and people tell me that it helps them to cope with guilt feelings. You sound like a caring, responsible person and I bet you did lots of things you can be proud of. Focus on those things and feel good about them because, as I said in the post, for most of us, no matter how much we did it feels like it wasn't enough. These feelings will indeed pass. Took me 2 years, but they're gone. Best wishes,


Becs said...

Bob, thanks so much for the comments. IT is a most complex disease and one that I wish my mother did not have to experience. I sometimes think it is a blessing that she is away from reality now, as she missed my father terribly when he passed. I am comforted in knowing that the place she is at is safe and they are caring and loving, but most of all equipped for her, that we were not able to be anymore. God Bless you and thanks. Becs

Bob Tell said...

Becs--Just had a glitch on this comment site and a long reply to your comment disappeared. I love technology. I won't go into the same detail for fear it may happen again. Suffice it to say that I agree with your thought that memory loss can be a blessing if it spares the person the pain of difficult memories. Thanks for your comments.