My lovely 88 year old Mother who lived with us died two weeks ago, rather suddenly and unexpectedly. She had been going down the regular "dementia hill" it seemed, incrementally showing increased signs, but still walking, talking, laughing, eating, not incontinent, but just plain slowing down. She began having heart issues (angina) again, and a blockage of some sort was discovered after a nuclear stress test. We opted not to have invasive procedures done, as the consensus was her dementia would spiral downwards as it did when she had a pacemaker, and another likelihood was she wouldn't survive the operation anyway. Long story short....she had bad pain Saturday night, went to ER, hospital kept her overnight, found she hadn't had a heart attack, but had bad chest wall pain. They felt a heart attack may be lurking to strike anytime. When we got her back home she was very sick from the morphine they gave her for pain. She dry heaved all night. The following day she was worn out, way more confused and disoriented, and fatigued. Things just kept going down hill. Her Dr. actually made a house call Wednesday evening and she perked up. He said she was fine, and just needed sleep. He prescribed 12.5 mg twice a day of Seraquel (sp) which he said would help her sleep. I gave her the one dose of it on Thursday morning. She slept and then would awaken fitfully, thrashing about, seemingly panicked. Myself, my husband, and family friends were with her every minute, calming her, soothing her, until she fell back into a sleep. This lasted about four hours, until she fell into what appeared a comfortable sleep. Two hours later she was dead. Ever since then I've been grappling with regret, guilt, extreme sadness, unbelievable restlessness. Why did it happen like this? What should I have done differently? I didn't even get time to say Goodbye. I thought she'd sleep like the Dr. said and awaken rested and back to herself. Now she's gone. I spent every day with her constantly. Now I'm filled with regrets of why didn't I do this, why didn't I do that, I never got her that new doll I was going to, I didn't tell her I loved her enough, and what a good Mom she was to me, etc etc etc. I feel as though I'll explode with sadness. Has anyone been through this type of thing, where it's like you could've, should've, done more. But it's too late? How long will this last, I wonder. I feel as though it will be with me forever. I took great care of her all those years, only to let her die in what seemed to be a frightening way....until the last hour or so. I didn't know. I was clueless. I feel like I let her down at the very end of her sweet precious life.

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Thank you, Pamstegman. We wanted to get Hospice onboard. Two hospitalists said to get them. But she had to be referred by her Primary Dr, who steadfastly refused, saying she was not ready for Hospice, and they had guidelines which she wouldn't have passed. I could kick that guy from here to eternity, because he would not bring himself to think she was dying. She put her best foot forward in her true British style when he paid a house call Wed. night. He said she had a good few years left, and was certainly not a candidate for Hospice. Then, when she died the next day he said, "Well, I'm shocked!! I should've listened to you." A lot of good that did my poor sweet mother who had to die like that. However I since went online to read about the Last Stages of Death, and they referred to "Terminal Delirium" which is extreme agitation and restlessness, and the article said although it looks very distressing, it is not considered to be painful. That made me feel a bit more easy about it. I know I have a wealth of memories, and I will take your advice to cling to them, honor them, and remember them. Thanks very much.
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You did not let her down, she chose to go. I wish she had agreed to Hospice, they could have explained to you to expect, that the panic and thrashing a normal progression, that there are meds for it. They would have made it less panicky. Her departure should not have been such a surprise and so difficult. My mother died when I was ten. You have such an enviable wealth of memories. Cling to them. Honor them. Remember them.
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