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Missing my Mom, while feeling guilty...


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Just over six months ago, I lost my Mom in a car accident. Getting the news from my brother was by far the worst thing I have ever had to go through, but what made it worse was that she was on her way home from dropping me off from my Grandmother's funeral. I lost two of the most important people in my life in the matter of a week. I sometimes chuckle to myself when thinking about it, because it's crazy. These things don't actually happen to people.

My Mom was incredible. She was smart and strong. She was a single mother who raise my brother and I without any help from family or my father. She would often skip meals when we were young so that we were fed. She sacrificed so much for us, and did so happily. But, she also gave to the people in her life. She often baked and visited with friends and family that were sick or going through a hard time. She always kept busy; rarely taking a moment for herself.

When I think about the day she died, I can't help but think I had something to do with it. I knew she was tired, but I wanted to go home. I just keep thinking, if only I had taken the drive back with my aunt, or we stopped for a cup of coffee like we usually did, or if I had been ready on time, would she still be alive? I realize thesis irrational, but I can't move passed this guilt. Further to that, it took the police 13 hours to get in contact with my brother. And I just think, why didn't I call to make sure she was home safe, when she didn't call me?!? They told us she died instantly, but I can't help but think how scared she must have been in the moment before she died. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night from dreams of her panicking right before her car hit the truck.

My whole life has changed since then. I'm trying to finish up my degree and move on so I'm no longer surrounded by everything that reminds me of her. I talk about her rarely to my friends and family, because I don't want them to feel awkward or get sick of me talking about her. I told her everything, and now I have no one. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I was in that car with her, or instead of her. I stay alive so that my stepdad and brother don't have to deal with the added pain of losing me too.

Everyone tells me how strong I am, because I've continued my studies and I put on a brave smile everyday for class. And when I tell them I'm not that strong, they think I'm joking. I'm finding it harder and harder to keep strong. I'm finding it harder to convince myself that my brother and stepdad need me. I just want to hear her laugh once more, or to hug her. I don't know what to do anymore. I'm tired. I'm tired of being strong all the time. I'm tired of crying myself to sleep.

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Hello LEmilyK,

I am so sorry about the loss of your mom. Please know that you can come on here and talk anytime you want. That is why we are here. No one knows you and no one will judge you. There are a lot of us harboring guilt (including myself). I can not tell you when you will feel better because we all grieve differently. But, I can share with you my experience. My mom past away on September 11, 2012. I had those same questions of "what if" constantly running through my head. I still do, but the thoughts are short lived. My mom was very sick. During a hospitalization her primary care giver said he wanted to put her on Hospice. He also asked me to have her sign a DNR. I couldn't put the paper in front of her and the nurses kept coming in and asking me if she had signed it yet. They wanted it signed before she left the hospital. I was with her every minute she was in the hospital and the moment I went downstairs for coffee the doctor had come to the room and had her sign the DNR. She was very prone to strokes and her primary care giver also took her off of her blood thinner and said that it was "safer" because she was also prone to falling. I just let them do what they were doing because I hadn't even had time to think. All of this was within 24 hours. She was very confused and hallucinating but the nurses told me it was due to the medicine they gave her during a cardio procedure she had done the day before. It wasn't a scary hallucinating. (She insisted that my sister was across the hall hiding behind a closed door or she told me to please ask the children outside of her door to be a little more quiet. There were no kids around.) These hallucinations and the confusion never went away. This all started right after a balloon angioplasty, so I do believe she had a stroke during the procedures and I believe the doctors knew this also but blamed it on the medications. I asked my mom if she wanted to get a second opinion and she said yes. She said she was very scared when they said hospice. So, we went for a second opinion and the new cardiologist said he could help her. He was bewildered why she hadn't had surgery. He said he has much sicker patients, who are on much much higher doses of medications then she was taking. He said he would do surgery in two weeks because she was taking a medication that needed to be completely out of her system before he did the surgery. He asked her if she wanted him to admit her while she waited, and she said no. He put her back on all her medications and she was NO LONGER to be considered a DNR! We put her in a nursing home that was three minutes from my house and my husband worked at the nursing home so he had a constant eye on her during the day and I went in the evening. The confusion increased and at night she would be up and wandering the halls looking for me or my sister. The nursing staff was getting upset because she would constantly take off her oxygen and unplug the monitor that was suppose to warn them if she got out of bed to go to the bathroom. One day, she fell and we were called to the Emergency Room. The ER Doctor said her labs were very very bad and wanted to admit her. I said NO WAY because the doctors the doctors who worked at this hospital were the same doctors who worked at the other hospital. The same doctors who had her sign a DNR behind my back. The same doctors who took her off of her blood thinner when he knew that she may have had a stroke while in the hospital. This was the same doctors that my mom had taken a bad fall in their parking lot a few weeks earlier and had a brain bleed. This was the doctors who gave my mom 20 mg of Ambien to my mom who had Congestive Heart Failure and was taking Lasix and had to get up every hour to use the bathroom. She would fall in the bathroom in the middle of the night and they would say she had another stroke. NO! It wasn't a stroke, it was the Ambien and she was falling asleep on the toliet and fall. She would fall getting out of bed. It was the Ambien that they gave her that made her fall in the doctors parking lot at 7:00 am when she had a doctors appointment. These doctors were trying to cover their butts more than they were taking care of my mom. I said if she was that bad, I wanted to bring her to another hospital. The ER Doctor said he would talk to the cardiologist. He came back and said the cardiologist said she was a DNR and she just had a balloon angioplasty and that would make her labs look bad and said to send her back to the nursing home. (I had showed them the papers that said she was not a DNR anymore when she was admitted.) I ask the doctor if I should take her to the other hospital and he said that she would be okay until Monday when she was to see her doctor. He did take me back to his office and showed me the xray of her lungs and said he thought he saw a pulmonary embolism or pneumonia but he could not be sure. (He is a doctor? How can he NOT read an x-ray? He tried to pull up her previous lung scans and the computer said they had been cancelled. He said to take her xrays to her doctor on Monday morning. I remember very clearly going home and telling my husband that the ER Doctor seemed to be trying to tell me something without ratting out the other doctors. He was giving me mixed messages....her labs showed she was very very ill, she will be okay to go home, he then showed me her xrays and said he thought he saw an Embolism in her lungs, and he pointed out that the other reports were cancelled and he couldn't pull them up to compare them with her current one, and then he said she would be fine to go back to the nursing home BUT show the other doctor Monday morning. On Sunday morning I went to go see my mom. She was sitting in her wheelchair without her oxygen on her nose and just kept telling me that she wasn't feeling good. There was a CNA in the room when I came in and said your mom is having a bad day today and smiled. (As if my mom had a stuffy nose or something very little.) I immediately put back on her oxygen and called my husband to come up and take her blood pressure. He couldn't even get a reading on her blood pressure. I told the nurse to call the ambulance. The nurse went to put a call to the doctor to see if she should call the ambulance. After a few minutes I walked to the nurses station and asked if she had called the ambulance and she said she was waiting for the doctor to call back! I said, "Either you call 911 or I will call 911!" The ambulance came and I begged the driver NOT to take her to the closest hospital. I begged her to take my mom to the hospital that the second opinion doctor worked at. By the time my sister and I got to the hospital my mom was in respiratory distress and we were told she was septic. They couldn't get blood out of her at all and even tried to put in a central line but couldn't do it. I told them that she was not a DNR but she didn't want to be put on a ventilator. My mom and I discussed this because it was her heart that was bad. We thought her heart would stop, and if it did stop and they tried to revive her and couldn't... then it was God's will. We thought of a ventilator as a person who was brain dead and she didn't want that. The nursing home sent the first DNR orders with the ambulance so these doctors were calling her a DNR. I again explained that she was NOT a DNR. She wanted to live. The doctor said what I was telling her didn't make sense because a DNR and a Ventilator go hand in hand. For what felt like forever they had to try to save my mom without putting her on a ventilator. It was not the way it was suppose to be. She couldn't breathe. It was the worst thing I had ever had to watch. Finally after a long time they asked me again if I wanted comfort measures for her. I screamed YES! Moriphine would help her relax, but it would also lower her (already very low) blood pressure and it would also make it harder for her to breathe so they couldn't give it to her before. She was turning blue and couldn't breathe and she just struggled for so long. After two doses of moriphine and still struggling to breathe, she had a stroke and went unconscious and died two days later. Although, not on her death certificate....I believe she had a pulmonary embolism for a long long time. That ER doctor was right...( I believe he was anyway). She was allergic to CAT Scan Dye so they always had to do a regular x-ray. The Radiologist would report something suspicious on her lungs, but at the end of her hospital stay it would appear "to look better". After her death, I talked to a pulmonary embolism specialist and they said someone can have an embolism in their lungs for years

and it would slowly effect the heart and other organs. The more she spoke, the more it was like a step by step outline of what happened to my mom over her last year. You see....when she would go into the hospital they would dose her up on blood thinner. It would shrink the Pulmonary Embolism and she would go home and after a week or so she would start to feel really bad again. It was a constant cycle.

Now....I told you all that because I wanted you to know that I too....had so much guilt.

Why didn't I stand up and yell at the doctor for having my mom sign the DNR when she was hallcinating and I was out of the room? Why didn't I have her admitted into the hospital instead of going back to the nursing home while she waited for the surgery?

Why didn't I listen to the ER Doctor who said he thought he saw a Pulmonary Embolism?

Why wasn't I more clear that she DID want to be on a ventilator if she couldn't breathe... but not if she was brain dead. Why?

Why didn't I move her back home with me instead of putting her in the nursing home and I could have seen when her health declined so fast on that Sunday morning and I would have called the ambulance hours earlier.

Why didn't I have her go to the closest hospital to see the doctors who knew her better and knew she had a hard time giving blood and putting in a central line. Why?

Why didn't I get an autopsy done to find out what really happened?

It has been one year and two months since my mom past away. I still feel guilt sometimes and I ALWAYS am missing my mom so much. However, I can finally tell you "why" I didn't do all those things. Because I did the best I could with what information I had at the time. My mom was very very sick and had been for many many years. One thing after another after another and every time she was in the hospital....she didn't die. That was never an option in my head.

Why....Her doctor could of had her sign the DNR because he knew that I couldn't do it. He may have really taken her off of the blood thinner because he thought she was falling too much and maybe he really did think it was the best decision for her. He wasn't the one who was giving my mom the Ambien, it was her cardiologist.

Why....My mom didn't want to be admitted into the hospital while waiting for surgery. She wanted to be around my husband all day long and with me in the evenings...which was in the nursing home.

Why...The ER Doctor may have been trying to tell me something but he wasn't clear. My mom was feeling a lot better by the time we left the ER. She was so sweet and laughing. I was going to go up to her doctor first thing on Monday morning, I did what I thought was the right thing to do, at that time. Her dying and leaving me forever wasn't on my mind. I had hope that the second opinion doctor was going to do the surgery and she would get better.

Why...wasn't I clear on the DNR/Ventilator? I was clear. I did tell the doctors many many times. The doctor should have looked at the papers that I brought with me but she didn't. It said in the papers that if she was in a not curable state then she didn't want to be put on a Ventilator. I won't take the blame for this. I told them....I brought the papers. I never even thought of her going into respiratory failure. It was always her heart that was bad. The doctors didn't want to hear me say that she wasn't a DNR because they knew she was dying and they wanted to help her.

Why....I couldn't have moved her in with me. She was wide awake in the middle of the night. (Certain strokes will cause someone to be up at night, along with confusion and hallucinations.) She would have wandered around the house looking for me, even if I was lying right beside her. I have two children and I was protecting them from the pain that I saw when she died. My husband was at the nursing home with her all day M-F and I would pop in there on the weekends and evenings. She had 24 hour care in the nursing home with additional eyes with my husband and myself.

Why...I didn't have her go to the closest hospital because they were the ones who gave up on her. I knew at that moment that she was in serious condition and I wanted her to be at the hospital that had Angels and Jesus all over the place. I wanted her to be with the doctor who said he could save her.

Why....I didn't get an autopsy done because I was in shock. I still kick myself for not doing it. Not to sue anyone (In the State of Florida a child can not sue for malpractice in the case of a parent. Isn't that insane! Anyway....an autopsy would have given me a little more sense of closure. But...I didn't do it and I can not turn back time. When I see my mom again, I will know.

You are still grieving very very hard. It has only been six months. I know that you had no idea that your mom would get into a car accident and if you did...there is no way you would have let your mom out of your site. We don't think that way...it isn't natural. It would be a horrible way to live to be constantly thinking the worst all the time. Your mom would NOT want you to be feeling guilt. Your mom would be very sad to see you so sad. The holidays are coming up and it is NORMAL for you to be feeling the way you are feeling. Christmas music can really turn on my tears! "Time" is the best thing to help you heal your pain. Give it time.

There are two things that have REALLY helped me. One is look for the signs. I wrote a note to my mom and put it in the box with her ashes. I begged her to forgive me. I told her that I was sorry for not helping her more. I asked her to please please give me a sign that she is okay and is happy in Heaven. About six months after she died, I had a dream. I was standing up as a line of people came by shaking my hand. Then, there was my mom. She was beautiful. She didn't look really young, but she just looked so healthy. It was a look that I had not seen out of my mom for so many years. She was walking quickly and she came up to me and she was smiling so big and she grabbed my hands in her hands and she said, I am okay. Then, I woke up sobbing. My mom always said my dad owed her a nickel from their first date and told me to tell the kids if they found a nickel she was thinking of them. Do you know that when I woke up from that dream and went to get out of bed....there was a nickel right there on the floor. One day, I was just in tears and really missing my mom. I was just sobbing and taking the laundry out of the washing machine and out pops a nickel on the floor. My kids bury nickels at her grave site. Look for the signs from your mom because I believe in God and I believe so much that there is a beautiful life after this one. Remember the things your mom loved and look around for them.

Second is the therapist that I went to go see after my mom died. I needed to talk to someone. It does help to talk. He really just sat there and I talked. However, he told me something that I will forever remember as the turning point to my moms death. He said...it can take up to a year for your brain to understand the trauma of losing a loved one. It will constantly go over and over the different scenarios around the loss. Your brain is trying to process what happened. It is why you are constantly thinking the "WHAT IF." Until your brain finds an understanding then it will continue to try and process the information. Everytime I would start to think the "what if" I would actually tell my brain not to process it at that time. I would tell myself that I would let it process the information later. It really worked for me. I immediately noticed a difference in the amount of time I was trying to think about why my mom had to leave me. It may not work for you, I just wanted to share it and maybe it will work for you.

I try to post here often....but as you can see, my posts are really long and I don't have a lot of time. However, I read your email and I just had to sit down and write to you because I felt your pain. I have been there. Maybe it was your mom that sat next to me as I read your email and wanted me to write you. See.... take those signs and believe in them! Give yourself time (at least one year and a few months). You won't feel the way your feeling now. After that year mark (actually the next month that follows the year mark) you will feel better. You will still have your days, but it won't be the way you feel now. You will have answered your "what if's" and you will begin to heal.

The day that you look at someone else's post and you say to yourself...I remember that pain. The day that someone else's parent sits down next to you and silently begs you to send a reply and you begin to write to that person all the things that helped you get through that pain....that is the day you will realize that you have gotten better. You will realize that you are healing.

Hugs to you! I hope that I helped you in even a tiny tiny way. Please post again if you just want to talk. I am not on here often but like I said earlier....there are times when someones post just makes me sit down and begin to write.

Take Care.

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