Chapter 2: Coping with your guilt

Why do I feel so guilty?

The palliative care expert says
Dr. Mike Harlos, palliative care physician, discusses being present at the time of death.(3:22)Video transcript

You might feel guilty about decisions you made when caring for the dying person.

I feel in my heart that I let her down somehow. The cancer, the suffering, the fact that I am alive and she is not. I feel like I could or should have done something more.

By agreeing to stop feeding him in his last days, I feel like I condemned my husband to die. In speaking with the health care team, I know this was not the case, and that stopping food and fluids was the right thing to do at the time, but it still nags at me.

I hesitated to tell her some things about our relationship, things I had kept buried and secret...now it is too late.

He just wanted to come home one last time. I fought so hard with the physicians but they insisted it was not safe for him to go. He was heartbroken. Maybe if I had pushed a little harder...but who knows...maybe it would have killed him and then where would I be?

My deepest regret is that she died before my brother arrived. None of us had spoken to him for years and we hesitated even contacting him when mom got sick. By the time we did, things moved so quickly that there was no time for them to meet. Maybe they could have made up…