My Mom passed away. Did I do the right thing? - page 2

Hi everyone. Please excuse this long post – but I am in desperate need of very honest advice and opinions, as I am uncertain as to whether I did the right thing for my beautiful Mom, who passed away... Read More

  1. by   KalipsoRed21
    I think you are wanting to keep some of that guilt that you are trying to place on yourself with you because at least it is something that you have left of your mom. My dad passed in September. He was a non compliant type 2 diabetic post brain stem stroke and triple bypass. In the 25 years that he had this progressive disease he was always so lucky. He had uncontrolled blood sugars but had managed to heal diabetic ulcers several times without issue. When he had his brain stem stroke his worst after affect was a loss of balance and so he had to use a walker....he could have had 'locked in syndrome'. He had a triple by pass after his stroke with little to no wound complications....sooooooo lucky. I live in a different state than my dad, but we talked to each other every day. Sometimes more. But as I am recently married and the breadwinner for my family, quitting my job and caring for my dad full time didn't seem like an option for me. In July of last year we had a family reunion and my dad had me look at a little ulcer on his heel. This one was different than others he had because it got big super fast. I wanted to take him to the ER, but my dad was always stubborn, and told me he would go when he got home. When he got home he found out he had gangrene and they were going to need to amputate his leg up to his knee. I didn't go home because I had just started a new job and had just taken off for our family reunion, my mom was there though. Amputation was my dad's worst fear, I talked with him the night before he passed and he told me that he was looking forward to maybe coming and seeing me next year, maybe I would have a baby. I now realize this was my dad saying goodbye....I always wanted to be a mom, but my dad would always tell me he was to young to be a granddad. I spoke to him a little after he came out of surgery, he was groggy but doing well. My mom left his bedside to get some lunch and while she was in the cafeteria he went into cardiac arrest and really died at that time. But they intubated him until I could get home. I knew, because I've seen this before in other cardiovascular patients I'd had, that he wasn't going to get better. I'm very sure he threw a cot to his brain based on the testing they could do after he arrested, but because he was intubated they couldn't do an MRI. I left him intubated for 3 days just to make sure. I finally had him extubated, and he passed away with all his family next to him. But I frequently feel guilty. Guilty because I didn't go home when he needed surgery, and for letting him pass. What if I had waited a few more days? Did I give up on him to quickly? Because I am the only person with a medical background in my family, my mom and sister left all these decisions up to me.
    I know in my nursing brain that my dad was so lucky to go this way. He was taking a nap and never woke up...there really isn't a better way to go than that. I know that had my dad survived the post op stroke grossly debilitated he would have been so depressed, he was already frustrated by the limitations his first stoke had given him. He enjoyed life and exploring so much, and when he wasn't able to walk and see everything as much it really got his goat. But I still feel guilty. My mom feels guilty because she went and got lunch that day, but I think we all know that is unreasonable. I guess this is just a normal part of grieving. So even though I read your story and know you took good care of your mom, without reading it I could have told you that as well. I'm sorry that your best friend had to go on without you. But I'm very sure she would want you to try to do the things that make you happy ....and that may take a year or so to get back to. Just take it day by day and try to make sure you hang out with your family and friends even though you may not really feel like it. In the long run it is more helpful than you may realize. Also don't be to hard on yourself if you can't make up your mind very easily either....or you change your mind a lot....or you find yourself not coming up with a plan. And really it is also true that you need not to sell anything or make any big commitments for a year.
    I'm so sorry for your loss.
  2. by   not.done.yet
    Please accept my sincere sympathy for the loss of your dear mother. You are in a lot of emotional pain and searching for the why...and not finding it, you are turning it on yourself. I have a feeling that would distress your mother greatly.

    Your mother had multiple things wrong with her and her body was not healthy in general. I know this is hard, but none of us are meant to stay here. 100% death rate for the human race. From what you have reported here, you took marvelous tender care of her. I hope my kids take that good of care of me when my time comes. You did NOT contribute to her death. Sincerely, you didn't. It was just her time. I know that sucks. It hurts really bad and I am so so sorry. Please seek comfort for your pain and allow yourself to grieve. I truly truly hope I have that kind of care when it is my time.

    It is very, very common for turning, bathing, repositioning etc to happen right before natural death. It is not that you did anything wrong. It is likely coincidence. It happens frequently and nobody questions it. Maintaining her position would not have extended her life. Turning her certainly did not "kill" her. Ondansatron is a very mild drug and didn't contribute anything but some comfort to her. It is obvious from what you wrote she was in the process of dying and I hurt that you had nobody there to help you, support you or explain things to you as you went through that. Please release yourself from this torture. You did nothing wrong and so much right.

    Sending you love and light.
  3. by   NutmeggeRN
    My deepest condoloences. How lucky she was to have you be able to care for her right to the very end. And the end was her time to go. She had multiple co-morbid conditions and her time was not long. Pelase don't second guess your self. Look of this time as a gift to her, and you, that not many get.
    Please take care of yourself and process this with someone you trust.
  4. by   Pixie.RN
    From the sound of it, you took exquisite, loving care of your mother. That is a beautiful thing. Take good care of yourself in this time, too. You did nothing wrong. My condolences to you.
  5. by   SmilingBluEyes
    You have received a lot of excellent words of wisdom and advice. I have nothing to add except I am truly sorry for the loss of your mom.
  6. by   Here.I.Stand
    I am so very sorry for your loss!

    You did not cause your mom's death.

    Like the other posters, it sounds like she was actively dying over those couple of days. She was likely in multi-organ failure from her many illnesses, and she would have died whether you repositioned her or not.

    Does your hospice service offer any bereavement counseling? If so, please reach out to them.
  7. by   Irish_Mist
    It sounds to me like you took WONDERFUL, COMPASSIONATE care of your mother. You did a lot more than many people would do for their elderly and ill parents. You did not cause your mom to die. She had multiple health issues and clearly wasn't well. Please do not beat yourself up over this. My only suggestion is speaking to a counselor about your feelings. It'll take time to process everything including your extensive care of her and her death.

    I am so sorry for your loss. Hugs.
  8. by   CCU BSN RN
    First of all, I'm very sorry for your loss. I'm glad you're seeing a counselor/therapist/whoever.

    It's amazing that you were able to stop working and to stay home and care for your mother when she got sick. You got to spend a lot of time together, which certainly brought her great comfort, and you will have those memories from her last weeks/months, and you will treasure them. Even writing this post I'm thinking back on my Grandfather, who I took FMLA to take care of on hospice about 3 years ago, and smiling about how he would 'curse creatively' and wash down his percocet with a glass of scotch while we watched Jeopardy or listened to classical music together.

    You're grieving, you're understandably kind of a wreck. You're feeling all of these strong emotions, and as a nurse, sometimes it's easier to focus on the clinical aspect of things. You dropped everything to care for your mother, and now that chapter of your life is coming to a close. You have to figure out how to live without her, and it's going to suck.

    As everyone else has stated, you did nothing wrong. You honestly did more than any nurse in the hospital or a nursing home would have done, because you only had 1 patient, and you loved her deeply. You probably kept her alive longer than she would have lived in the hospital, and her death was definitely less traumatic.

    Please don't take offense at the next bit, because I'm not always great at tact, and I really am trying to be helpful.

    I think deep down, some part of you knows that you did everything you could possibly have done for your mother, and that her death is certainly not directly due to any action (or inaction) on your part. I think it's possible that ruminating on the tiny details of her final days and hours, looking for a tiny misstep, looking to have someone to blame (even if it's yourself) can become all-encompassing and consume you very easily. Either way, whether your brain is stuck on these details as a way to distance yourself from your emotions, or whether you're feeling anger and looking for a target, please be careful not to let this fear that you've killed your mother consume you. Try to focus your energy on remembering your favorite memories or activities, distract yourself from your grief altogether, take up kickboxing, whatever...

    In sum, I'm sorry for your loss, you are not at fault, you sound like an amazing daughter. You've probably been neglecting your own needs while caring for your mother, so please practice good self-care, and please put this idea that you're somehow to blame to bed. For good. You're definitely in my thoughts and prayers this week.
  9. by   FolksBtrippin
    Quote from LovingMom1
    Thanks for your responses so far. I am already talking it through with counselors, but they don't have medical training - and all they can give me are the usual platitudes (and that's fine) - but nothing more technical in nature. Am not thinking of hurting myself.

    My issue is with the pressure area care. Was I right to turn her?
    Your turning her did not cause her death. You were right to turn her. She is also very blessed to have had her daughter by her side as she passed. Everything went extremely well for your mom. She had a good death experience and you are to be credited for that.

    Guilt feelings are normal when a parent passes, even when you did everything you should have done. This is just a part of your grieving process.

    My hugs and condolences.
  10. by   Zyprexa
    I'm very sorry for your loss. You took wonderful care of your mother, and I'm sure you were a great comfort to her. Many of the signs you were noticing (decreasing urination, confusion, poor skin integrity, weight loss) were related to her chronic conditions and the end of life stage. It sounds like she passed away peacefully in her sleep, without pain or discomfort, and with someone she loved right beside her.

    Please take care of yourself during this difficult time. I'm glad that you are seeing a counselor. When you're ready, a bereavement support group (especially one for primary caregivers of a loved one) could be helpful for you.

    Lastly, please remember that you did absolutely nothing wrong, you provided excellent care which allowed your mother to be at home when she passed away, peacefully and comfortably. However, if you have thoughts of harming yourself, please seek help 1-800-273-8255.
  11. by   RunnerNurse09
    You did a phenomenal job of caring for your mother, and couldnt have done any better than you did. As others have said, she was very ill and you did NOTHING WRONG. How lucky she was to have such a wonderful child care for her. I am so sorry for your loss. I am glad you are seeking counseling, and please continue to do so. Losing a parent is very very hard, and you need that help right now. Best wishes to you.
  12. by   calivianya
    Quote from LovingMom1
    Have you ever had pt's pass away during pressure area care / re-positioning? It was during this process that she passed away. If she passed away while I was doing this, I can only imagine that she would probably have passed very soon?
    Yes, and yes.

    People who are tremendously unstable and imminently near death often pass away after very minimal amounts of stimulation, like turns. The key thing here is they have to be extremely near death. It happens all the time.

    So, if she died right after you turned her, she probably would have died within a couple of hours anyway if you hadn't turned her. She was dying regardless. That had nothing to do with you. The only thing that had to do with you were the maybe couple of extra hours she could have lived.

    Think about if you hadn't turned her and she'd lived an hour more - what would she have been doing? She was minimally responsive already. She wouldn't have been at a party. She wouldn't be having a conversation with you. She wouldn't be listening to her favorite music. She wouldn't have been doing anything meaningful to her; she'd just be lying there dying even slower. She didn't lose anything that would have been meaningful or special to her losing those potential hours or minutes.

    Lying minimally responsive in the bed is ZERO quality of life. Extending that for what? A couple of hours, tops? A couple of hours of being unresponsive? There would have been no benefit.

    I'm so sorry for your loss.
  13. by   motor_mouth
    When my family member died, it was after repositioning. The hospice nurse told me that in her experience, death happens often after repositioning after a certain point in the dying process.

    It's nothing you did.