Dealing with regrets

by Gayle
(Lincoln, CA)

My husband, David died Jan 19th. He had lung cancer that spread to his brain and liver. When he got diagnosed he was stage 3 and they took out the upper part of his left lung. He had pain from that surgery until he died. He did 6 months of chemo after surgery. Then he was in remission for 6 months. Then he started having issues with fluid build up around his lung. We found out the cancer was back. He was in and out of the hospital till he went on hospice. He did the first round of chemo the second time and when he went to the second time we found out cancer was in the brain so the oncologist said no more chemo. Instead my husband did ten days of radiation to the brain. He had mental issues and sickness with that. He went on hospice and died at home. But I have so many regrets. I heard him breathing weird and I didn't get up and check on him cause he made sounds when he slept on his back. I have deep regret that I didn't check on him and tell him I loved him and it was okay to go. I feel guilty cause he died alone in his room. My daughter said he was breathing when she got here to clean and she believes he waited till she got here to go so I wouldn't be alone. I still feel regret and guilt. Online today I read when the heart stops the brain still goes on for 17 minutes and I regret not knowing that and saying I loved him. I don't how to move on. We've been together 32 years. We were both disabled and he did lots of stuff for us. I can't drive and my income was cut in half. I can't imagine living with grief the rest of my life.

Comments for Dealing with regrets

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Feb 10, 2014
regrets
by: Anonymous--MI

I believe that the one 'left behind' from a loving couple will feel some form of regret. Like many of you, I also have regrets. My husband of more than 43 years died 14 months ago from SCA and my life will, of course, never be the same again. I don't expect joy or happiness to come to me because my true joy left me when my husband died. I regret not pushing him harder to see another doctor, because in hindsight the doctor he had ignored many of his symptoms. However, we can't live in the shadow of regrets--it will take us down and not help to lift us up and out of this dark valley. I pray every day for God to help me 'get past' the regrets and concentrate on the blessings I had with my dear husband and the blessings I have in knowing I will see him again in heaven. I pray for all of us with regrets that are dragging us down and to get to the place of some peace and hope.

Feb 08, 2014
dealing with regrets
by: Heidi

Dear Gayle – I’m so sorry your David passed away. Losing a spouse/soul mate is such a tragic event that it forever alters us. Nothing prepares us. I’m not sure anything could because it hurts so deeply and until we experience it, we don’t realize just how severe it is. I know I wasn’t prepared when my Mickey died. He had been ill for a long time but he had such a strong will to live and dealt with his issues that it never occurred to me that he could die. He died in the hospital from doctors mistakes. He wasn’t able to be home which is where he had wanted to be.

I don’t have a medical background. But you shouldn’t feel regret about a possibility of the brain still working long after the heart stops. A lot of stuff posted online is not accurate. The brain and other organs start to loose oxygen minutes after the heart stops. After going too long without oxygen the brain has unrecoverable damage. And for someone with already compromised health it takes an even harder toll.

Your husband knew you were there with him. After all those years together and all you did for him, taking care of him, he knew how much you love him. He knew you were there because he would have sensed it. Think about your home now and how empty and quiet it feels. You ‘sense’ he is not physically there. My house is so quiet it hurts my ears. I turn on the TV to add sound – to try and pretend that my Mickey is still here – but it doesn’t work. Even the TV ‘sounds’ empty. I hear every clock ticking in the house now.

I too have a lot of guilt and regrets that I am struggling with. It’s been four months since he died but feels like eternity. I keep thinking if I could have done even one thing differently, would he have been treated by different doctors, or have been in a different hospital? Or could I have somehow done something where he wouldn’t have needed to go to the hospital in the first place? I go on and on and my memories are stuck in the last month of his life. I can’t get past that because it is so traumatic for me. I sit near an elevator at work and every time I hear that ‘ding’ it sends me right back to his hospital room and the sounds of the hospital.

This website and everyone sharing their grief and ‘counseling’ have helped me greatly. I encourage you to continue reading this site. I lost hope the day Mickey died. Nothing seems special anymore and I feel lost without him. I am trying to regain hope. I am trying to strengthen my belief in God and the hope He offers and so I can be with Mickey again someday. I think everyone needs hope in order to go on. I will pray for you to find comfort.

Feb 06, 2014
NO REGRETS
by: Lawrence

Gayle,
We all suffer terrible guilt and regrets when we lose the person we deeply love.
I lost a beautiful wife a year ago and ask myself why didn’t I realize she was nearly at the end of her life when two days before she died she cupped my face in her hands, gently kissed me and told me how happy I had made her and thanked me for our exquisite marriage.
We had been together for seventy years and yet nothing told me she was going to die suddenly, what happened to the affinity we had, why did nothing scream out to take her to the doctors?.
It’s a question I ask myself time and time again but doesn’t remove my guilt, I should have known..
You saw your David suffer a long drawn out illness which must have been heartbreaking for you to see, whereas my wife died in an instant, one minute talking the next dying in mid-sentence, life will never be the same again.
It is such early days since David died and your grief must be overwhelming,, but you must do what nature demands, that is to cry, cry and scream out at the world until you think you have no more tears left but believe me there are plenty in reserve.
I found myself sobbing today just looking at a couple getting married and I thought I was nearly over my loss. I realize the ache in my heart and the longing to kiss and hold her will never go.
You have a long and hard road to walk but every journey starts with a few brief steps and you will come through it, like everybody on this web site who have also gone through this agony of losing a loved one.
Read all our stories and understand you are not alone and you will survive.
We are praying for you.
Lawrence

Feb 06, 2014
Dealing with regrets
by: Doreen UK

Gayle I am sorry for your loss of your husband to lung cancer. You say you don't want to live with grief forever. This is how one feels just after losing a loved one especially a spouse. The pain of grief is so unbearable that you feel as if you will be like this forever. This is just the first stage of raw grief. Best thing to do is ride it out ONE DAY AT A TIME. Don't fight the pain or the grief and each day it will get easier. The regret and guilt you feel is also part of the first stage of grief and should go with time. Lung cancer is the one cancer that is hard to detect until it is too late.
I lost my husband of 44yrs. to lung cancer 21months ago. He suffered for 3yrs. and I nursed him through a painful tough cancer journey. He didn't want to die. He died just before retirement. His cancer was due to cutting asbestos and it took 40yrs. for that cancer to develop. He lived with this time bomb inside him all those years.
Don't beat yourself up about what you didn't do for your husband and concentrate on what you DID DO FOR HIM to make his life more comfortable and bearable. Build yourself up. Your husband didn't die alone. He would have felt your presence with him. My husband was drifting in and out of consciousness and couldn't talk but would have been too ill to know who was with him and who wasn't. Often when one is too ill they don't want anyone around them it would cause an irritation to them. It is worse for us who have been left behind and who have to now struggle to keep a home and to be able to afford to live. Not to mention who will care for us when we are ill and where we get our support from to go on in life. Which is why taking one day at a time helps us cope with the immense decisions we have to make. Put a plan in place for yourself. Find out from Social Services how they can help you. Find out about grief support groups you can go to for support. Often we have to ask for what we need otherwise we will be left isolated and stranded which makes grief harder. Don't anticipate problems arising. Only cope with those you have in front of you and deal with one thing at a time. Each day new problems arise and if they pile up we will be overwhelmed. REGRETS. We all have them. They come with life. If we had our lives to live over we would still do things the same way almost as if we are programmed like this. Our loved ones who have died all had regrets. My husband was aware of his before he died and I had to support him and tell him it was too late in the day to regret things he didn't do but FOCUS on what he did do. FOCUS is what is going to help us get through our grief. Nurture yourself with good things each day to make your life better. Even if it was to put a fresh bunch of flowers in a vase and admire them. Build on this each day till you feel better. These are the building blocks of facing a tough grief journey. It will get easier with time.

Feb 05, 2014
Feel so alone
by: Anonymous

I know exactly what your feeling I had 3 brothers & I was the baby the only daughter. I moved to Vegas many yrs ago & worked for the County. I rec'd fmla to be able to go to Calif. when my Mom was in the hospital. She had pneumonia & was on a respirator but was conscious after traveling back & forth for over a month every time I had to go to L.A. I was not getting paid & my husband was no help I was responsible for making the house payment and so on. She was not responding to any of the medications I was there for a week when I told her Mom I'll be back but I had to go to work to make money to pay the bills I did not want to leave and she shook her head no it was the hardest thing I ever had to do I had no choice I cried all the way back. A few days went by when I was in the parking lot getting ready to go into work when I got the call she was gone. I was inconsolable & to make matters worse I lost my last sibling on Mother's day this past year. I am the only survivor of my family. I am divorced, lost my house ended up sick and now am medically retired from work. Now I live with only one paycheck a month. This has all happened within the last 7yrs. I still to this day can't forgive myself but the odd thing is that the Lord did not allow me to be present at any of my families final moments. I have to keep my faith in God that I will see them all again. No matter what they know you loved them whether you were in the room or not. Please don't let it eat you up its not worth your health get worse like mine. God Bless You and take care.

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