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Watched my father die, struggling


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December 9th 2019 I watched my father who was fighting stage 4 cancer die in the hospital, struggling for breath as not one medical person helped.  His cancer was stable so that isn't what took him.  The Chemo did a number on him, but he hadn't even lost weight.  He looked great and felt pretty good too.  He just had his 13th round of intense chemotherapy and for a few days after that was struggling to breathe.  The hospital admitted him as he was also having absent seizures and passing out.  

The night he died, he shouldn't have.  They moved him from ER to his room upstairs and he was gone within the hour.  The nurse assigned to him was more concerned with her shift ending soon than what was happening in his room.  She literally said, "My shift is almost over but I'll get him started".   I vividly remember screaming to her for help as he was clearly gasping his last few breaths.  Code Blue was called way too late.  I replay in my head the moment he died, staring at my mother and I sitting up, us alone in the room with not one medical professional.  It took what seemed like minutes before people started flooding in to help.  

They tried to get him back but after a few times they did he finally stopped coming back.  The things I saw that night have given me so much anxiety.  I am terrified of every little pain I have as I instantly think it means I have cancer, and I, of course, will die from it.  I forget that people beat it.  

They have even opened an investigation at the hospital as we felt it was necessary to tell them what happened.  So we wait until we hear what will happen there.  But in the meantime, I am a wreck.  My daddy was my everything.  I can't even imagine when I will begin to feel normal again.  Or trust the medical professionals again. 

I hope someone can tell me that they've been through similar fears maybe and that they will fade over time.  Because right now, I feel like life is just slowly going by.  It also doesn't help that we have had this world wide pandemic which stops us from seeing friends and family that could be helping to comfort me through this.  I am on medication from my doctor for anxiety but I think it needs to be switched to an antidepressant.  I can't stop crying sometimes.  I am also going to a therapist.  Taking walks every day.  Journalling when I can, and trying to meditate daily (which I never did before but someone suggested it so I'm trying it).

I think if I saw him go peacefully I could have accepted it and said my goodbyes but this all happened so fast and right in front of me, I feel some kind of guilt that if the nurses and doctors that night couldn't move fast enough, maybe I should have tried something.  But I'm sure knowing he was a stage 4 cancer patient they felt the rush wasn't needed.  Who knows.  

Any advice or comments are welcome.  I'm just heartbroken. 


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Dear J3NN,

I'm so sorry for your loss.  What you saw was very hard and traumatic. No one wants to see their beloved mother or father suffer or treated poorly by medical staff. I too would find it very hard to accept. My father was suffering a heart attack and chest pains and this horrible nurse yelled at me that my father only needed to sit up. 

How you're feeling is completely understandable.  In my case, I left the hospital thinking I would see my father the next day but he passed two hours after I left. I deeply regretted that he passed with a nurse by his side instead of his family. My youngest sister did not have a chance to see him again or have any of us tell him we loved him. I wanted something different.

It's very hard during the pandemic to get supports. But I wanted to let you know there are many online resources that are helpful. I found the following sites helpful.

What's Your Grief

Grief in Common

Grief Healing Blog

What I have learned is that no matter how my father passed, I just couldn't accept it. I wanted him here on earth for us till he was a 100 years old. I wanted him to see his grandchildren grow up more. I wanted to save him more than anything else. I cried an ocean of tears for almost 2 years. It's been 4 years and I still wish it could be different. 

Be kind to yourself and keep taking it day by day.

Thinking of you.

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Dear J3NN:

I'm so sorry for what you've been through.  Losing a beloved father is one of the hardest things in life, and even worse when medical errors or neglect contribute to his suffering.  I also watched my dad gasping for breath when I arrived at the ICU.  His oxygen saturation was the lowest I'd ever seen.  His nasal oxygen cannula had fallen from his nose.  He should have been wearing a mask which covered his mouth as well.  I told the nurse to increase the pressure.  I can't remember all the details anymore because I have tried to put it out of my mind, but I'll never forget how my poor father thanked me for helping him.  It was heartbreaking.  At that moment I knew that I couldn't leave him alone because there is nothing intensive or caring about Intensive Care  -- that they really weren't monitoring him closely or just didn't care.

There were other disturbing incidents which I posted about extensively in this forum five years ago, but that thread started by Eve was removed for some reason.  I wish I could have sued the hospital but I'm sure they would have said his age and comorbidities caused his death.  

All I can say is that time does lessen the pain, but there are still times when I cry for my dad, because I miss him so much.  I wish so much that he could have had more happiness and fun in his life. He deserved so much more than he got.  But I'm glad that I was able to care for him and keep him company through the years.  I know I made his life happier than it otherwise would have been.  But now there will be no one there for me when my time comes. 

I only hope I go quickly and don't need to go to a hospital.  I know that some doctors and nurses are very dedicated and compassionate.  My dad did receive good care during previous hospital visits.  They saved his life at least twice, but other errors also occurred that should have never happened.  We tried different hospitals and they all did something wrong at some point.  My dad didn't want me to even leave bad feedback on Yelp because he was afraid that next time they'd kill him.  It's the luck of the draw. 

Don't blame yourself.  You did what you could.  We all experience guilt to some extent.  It's part of the grief process.  

Take care of yourself.  I hope you find this forum as helpful as I have. 

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hi J3NN, im terribly sorry to hear this and my deepest condolences. I had a similar experience.

You did what you could, it's normal to feel that you could do more. People take different lengths of time to grieve. You are doing the right things by trying to do something new and move on. 

On the cancer part, let's just say a lot of things in life are random. That's if you dont subscribe to some religious idealogy. If you do, maybe you can try focusing on that if it helps.

Take care and stay safe

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Thank you for the comments.   It does help to know that others have or are going through the same thing, even though I wouldn't wish this on anyone.  I just need to get my anxiety and depression about it all under control.  The constant jitters and anxious feelings are awful.  I can't live like this. 

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