I have written here before, some years ago. It's been 9 years since the passing of my beloved mother. For every time I fall into this black hole of blaming myself for my mother's death, it tends to get deeper and deeper, and I honestly don't know how to continue living.

My mom was dying and one night had rapid, hard and loud respirations (no mucus) without any pauses. This went on for 9 hours before she passed.

It was my fault that she passed that night.

I rang the nurse who came and gave her a shot of morphine and sedatives (called Stesolide in my country). Maybe it eased it a little bit, but the rate was just as high, around 50 breaths per minute. In panic I rang again after 30 minutes, and said that I didn't think it helped. I thought that the shot would have a significant effect, so Mom's breathing would ease, little did I understand at the time. It was the experience for HER that it helped, the morphine couldn't CHANGE her breathing. It was I, a scared daughter who panicked. I so wish the nurse would have spoken to me, telling me this, calming me down and also telling me what another shot of morphine that close to the first one would do.

My mother died 2 hours after the second shot.

So, I basically killed the one person I loved the most on this earth. :(

My mother was totally awake and alert that night and would have lived some days more. But I destroyed her remaining time and I made a farewell impossible.

My brother had gone home during the day, and I WENT TO BED AN HOUR BEFORE SHE PASSED! I didn't understand what was going on. I thought that she would be able to rest after the morphine and we would meet in the morning (a lady from the nursinghome staff went to sit with her).

I hastened my mother's death and I went to bed, and I feel this guilt has destroyed my remaining life. I feel so alone with this, I have tried to look for other people that have experienced something similar, but I haven't found anyone.

My mother was dying from pneumonia, she had been sick for 15 years from multiple strokes, we had been there for some days before this happened, but the nurse had said it would take time. It breaks my heart that she had to pass this way. :(

I don't know if I have a specific question, besides how do you carry on living with a guilt like this?

If someone have experienced the same kind of regular very fast breathing without any pauses, that would also help to hear. It was so hard to witness.

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My Dear Friend,
I have been in the black hole of guilt- depression, replaying my father’s death over and over. … please keep reading my note to you even after I say this next part.
you must get counseling and possibly ( even fir the short term) medication. You must do this b/c you know that your beloved mother would not want her daughter to suffer. Am I right? Re-read that last sentence. She would not want you in this anguish.
i think what would also be extremely helpful to you, which I did , is to talk to Dr about the process of death and how morphine affects the body. Your mom was in DISTRESS. You and the PROFESSIONALS did the correct thing. If the microphone would have hastened her death, the staff would have said “no”. What the Morophine did was to slow her heart rate so her panic at not being able to get enough air ( I’m sorry if this is bringing back memories) was lessened. It calmed her panic.
there are people who believe there might be a miracle~ even though they are watching the death process. I can respect that. Miracles happen, but, dear friend, they are rare. As much as you want to think you were controlling the situation ( her death), you were not. Call it God, call it biology. You , the nurse, dr, etc we’re not in control then. You ARE in control now. Seize this control.
One more thing. Often loved ones pass away when the people they hold dearest to them are not watching. Again, call it God, natural instinct…. I don’t know why, but perhaps it was a last kindness to you. You must be gentle with yourself.
I beg you to seek counseling bc the days you wished for your mom are being given to YOU. Life is exquisite… please live it.
With Love.
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I am so sorry you are still struggling with this. Morphine slows the heart rate. It gives pain relief to the dying. It was common where I worked to help patients get through the dying process. You need mental health counseling, a good doctor to help you with your depression. Replaying this mentally for 9 years is non productive. PLEASE get help.
Helpful Answer (9)

Morphine or no Morphine your mother was transitioning. Giving her the morphine might have made it a little quicker, but that is it, she had no quality of life remaining on this earth, why would you want her to remain longer and suffer more?

To say with 100% accuracy that the last shot of morphine was the reason she went a little quicker, is something you are devising in your own brain and are continuing to promote to yourself, the question is why?

I would strongly urge you to go to therapy, get some help, this self-imposed guilt is something that you have been manifesting way to long. It appears that this thought process has all consumed you.

Keep in mind, we are all destined to die, you or no one else here on God's Green Earth is powerful enough to stop the process.

I for one would prefer dying quicker, suffering in pain is not my thing.

IMO you were wanting her to live longer for you, not her, maybe she was ready and that is what happened she made the decision to move onto a better place, this you will never know!
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Kimbof Jun 26, 2022
This was great advice.
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That breathing was because she was suffocating. That is a horrible way to die. No one would want to suffer for days with that.

Have you considered that your mother was ready to die? That she knew she would not recover and wanted you to be spared watching her pass? She obviously knew you would not be able to deal with this and tried to make it easier for you. She is not in pain or distress, she had a long life, and you are wasting yours.

Guilt has no place in life. If you did something wrong, which you did not, you need to make amends. The only way to do that for someone who has died is to live your life for both of you: do the things your mom would have done; experience the things and the joy she is no longer here to share; live each day as she would have wanted. Be loved and loving, appreciate your family and friends, enjoy the good and the beauty in the world.
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MeDolly Jun 26, 2022
Excellent Post!
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Well, then I killed my FIL.

He was in the hospital with end stage CLL. Slowly drowning in the fluid that was building up his in lungs. He could not cough it up and he was trying, but no strength and no energy to do so.

We get a call that he is actively dying--and we hustle to the hospital. The oncologist met with us (Dh and me, SIL and BIL) and he explained that dad could NOT recover from this, as he had almost no red blood cells and he was actively dying and miserable. Dr asked if he could give dad a shot to 'ease his discomfort'--Dh and SIL just looked like deer in the headlights. I stepped in and said "that would be wonderful"--you guys OK with that?" which was all the dr needed. He stepped up to the head of the bed and the IV hanging there and proceeded to empty a HUGE bolus of morphine. He kept his back to us, but I knew he was essentially ODing dad on morphine. And GOD BLESS HIM for that.

FIL died less than 15 minutes afterwards.

It took YEARS for my Dh to not blame me for 'pushing' the morphine. IDK what he thought was going to be the outcome.

8 months later I was doing the same thing for my sweet dad.

KarenBe--you are wasting YOUR life second guessing your decision. I hope you find a good therapist to help you through this.
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AlvaDeer Jun 26, 2022
Midkid, what a beautiful post.
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Friend. I'm so sorry for the years of anguish you have gone through. My mom declined slowly at first from copd but began a quicker decline as the disease progressed. She has begun having episodes where she could not get a good breath and it panicked her to think of what her end would be like. I promised her I'd not let her suffer. The hospice nurse told me how to do the dosing of morphine drops. Mom had a similar pattern of breathing that you described for a time. It then changed to something more difficult to watch for me as she began to really struggle to breath. No details; you don't need those in your head. I kept mom dosed as instructed. I made sure she never FELT air hungry even though that was what her body seemed to experience. She passed after multiple doses of morphine in relatively short succession. For years I felt responsible for ending that life too soon - what if I had given too much, too fast? I later came to understand that there is a huge difference between EXTENDING someone's life and PROLONGING their death. Your mom's body was shutting down and no one has control over that. My mom's physical process of leaving this earth was not peaceful or quiet but I was able to take away her fear and discomfort. She was lucky to have you to do the same. The hospice nurse would not have given her another shot of she felt it was unwarranted. Witnessing a loved one die is beyond difficult; I'm wondering if you are having difficulty accepting what you saw as part of a normal (horrible, terrifying) process. When a baby is born that process is intense and can be scary to watch. Think of her physical death as her soul's birth process. Not being there to witness her last breath was a blessing to you and I'm betting what your mom preferred. That flood of chemicals your own body was releasing in response to your own distress can physically change your brain's neuropathways. The riverbed now carved keeps those same thoughts flowing through the same channel. You feel what you feel but that feeling doesn't reflect the truth. You must find some kind of counseling to help you sort feelings from facts and allow you to enjoy the good memories of years with your mom and not the stress of her last few hours. Peace to you...
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notgoodenough Jun 26, 2022
"I later came to understand that there is a huge difference between EXTENDING someone's life and PROLONGING their death."

That is extremely well put. Thank you.
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Based on my experience I can understand why so many people believe that the medications given at the end of life have hastened death, my mom changed noticeably after her last dose of dilaudid and passed away shortly after. But the thing is she had already been dying for days before that and had many doses prior to the final one, so in my opinion even if it had helped push her toward the inevitable conclusion that was a good thing. You dear mother was panting and in physical distress for 9 HOURS and you gave her something to ease her suffering, that was a GOOD THING.
You have ruminated too long about this, please do as Sadinroanokeva has suggested and seek counselling about this 🤗
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KarinBe Jun 26, 2022
Thank you, Cwillie, for responding <3. It was maybe a good thing with one dose of morphine and sedatives, not two..that pushed her over the edge. If you die shortly after one dose of morphine (I´ve heard this many times) then you are about to die any minute or hour.
But to be given two doses with not so much time between is pushing the person to die! I did not, at that time, understand thing, I was dedicated to help my mother in what I thought was distress.
I later read that fast breathing in the dying is not necessarily a sign of distress, BUT very distressing to caregivers.
Bedside farewells are almost never the magical thinking farewells we see on stage and screen, and as a nurse lifelong I can assure you of that. Your Mother was dying. You say that she may have lived anothre few days. While it is true that morphine, the best medication for easing breathing and suffering, may hasten death by some minutes, hours, even days, it is the one thing we have to relieve the suffering of those we love.
Those few days you wish for would have been very unlikely to have led to a romantic farewell; instead, as an RN I have seen them come to begging for an end, begging for help. If you want to speak of guilt for allowing that to come, I would understand your reasoning, but for peace and a gentle final exit, and after this number of years, I am afraid you may need help beyond what a forum may be able to give you.
I truly would suggest counseling and therapy, and I am not someone who says this without having HAD the same three times in my life when my own ability and understanding was insufficient to handle a life crisis. While mourning is individual to us all, for you to take on this responsibility of guilt, has a whole pattern that needs to be combed out with help of a professional. Guilt beongs to felons, and they never feel it. What you are experiencing is grief, and it is now, at almost a decade, too long to carry this.
People have many subconscious reasons for remaining in a state of guilt. Guilt implies that thee was an answer, one you chose not to hear. That there was a cure you refused. That something could have been different and you chose not to see it. Guilt implies you could have fixed all this. Am that is a kind of hubris. It suggests you are godlike, or at least a good fairy with a strong wand. Grief, instead, understands that loss comes to us all, and is the price of our giving and receiving love, which enriches our lives.
I am sorry for your loss, but it sadly does not honor to your Mom. Would she not have wanted you to ease her death and celebrate the wonder of her life?
I encourage you to seek help from a good therapist. I have found that often for life transitions work a private practice certified Licensed Social Worker is best. I wish you so much luck and my heart goes out to you.
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KarinBe Jul 3, 2022
AlvaDeer, thank you so much<3
Sorry for the indelicate question, but how many people have you sat with as they died?

Are you a trained doctor, nurse, palliative care attendant? Or have you lived experience from attending many family deaths & have witnessed various end of life breathing changes?

Warning: more tough love;

Was the timing, doses & deliveries of medications inc morphine up to you? Only you?
No. These things are prescribed, timed & delivered by medical staff.

STOP beating yourself up over any lack of medical & end of life knowledge.

STOP telling yourself so many lies. #1 lie is that you had all the control over someone's life or death. A lie. You didn't.

Absolutely reach out for grief counseling. Lay this burden down where someone professional can help you sort through all the emotions. Show you the lies too.

I do honestly wish you peace.
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KarinBe Jul 4, 2022
Thank you, Beatty.
No, I am not a trained nurse and yes, it was the first death I ever attended (not really attended, since I went to bed).
I wish the nurse and the doctor haven´t agreed to try and "save" her, they later admitted there wasn´t any chance, they said yes to that, just to please us, her kids. So the night she died, we didn´t know what to believe, was she dying or wasn´t she??
it was not the chief nurse that administred the medication that night, it was a nurse that was on night duty.
Later I recieved my Mom´s records( is that the word, medical journal in my country) and they had changed the times of when the morphine shots were given. This is clear evidence that thing were not handled the right way.
I later also found out that the nurse who worked that night had been fired..

and the
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Alva is spot on with that comment.

Karin--you really, really need to come to terms with this. After 9 years and still feeling some measure of guilt b/c you couldn't 'save' your mom. Picking over her medical records for someone else to blame, maybe? Won't make you feel better.

Your mom died of natural causes. Perhaps hastened, ever so slightly by medical intervention.

If she had been happy, active or even enjoying life, that's one thing, but like my dads, she was ready to die and we have to respect and love our 'people' enough to let them go. And to help them have the peace and dignity that comes with the proper medications.

I would not change one thing about the way I 'helped' my FIL die, and I personally dosed my daddy with morphine MANY times. He always thanked me. In fact, he begged me to OD him, but we were never given enough morphine at one time to do that. Because I would have honored his request if I could have.

Firmly believing in an afterlife helped me to know that both the men are still living, in the next life. I believe death is simply a transitioning to a much, much better place. No pain, no anguish.

I hope you get some serious therapy to help you out of the depression you're in. Your mom would not want that!
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