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Feeling Guilty Now That My Lovely Aunt Is Gone

by Irma
(Beeville, TX)

My aunt was 88 years old when she came to live with my family and me. We took her in because she was all alone. She raised me from an infant.

My mother died when I was two weeks old. I considered my aunt a mother and loved her very much. The first few years of living with us was a happy cheerful time. She was healthy and was able to walk freely without assistance.

I started noticing she would have moments when she would go blank. Her face would change like she was spaced out, I later found out they were mini strokes.

The last few months of her life she was really different. She wasn't able to walk like before. She wasn't able to feed herself. She pretty much wasn't the woman I knew and loved.

She wouldn't understand me most of the time and I couldn't lift her anymore. She got a pressure sore on her hip that got infected and needed surgery.

She spent three days in the hospital and had to go to a nursing home for the wound care. Five days later she went into a coma after suffering a massive stroke. She never woke up, and died four days later.

The guilt I feel now is unbearable. I miss her so much. I never got a chance to tell her how sorry I was for failing her, nor did I tell her how much I loved her. And I didn't say how sorry I was for getting annoyed that I couldn't lift her anymore. This is what I wish I could have said to her. I will always love her

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Irma, and thanks for telling your story here. I am sorry for your loss. It is wonderful that you loved your aunt so much, and I know it was hard to watch her decline.

As a caretaker, you could never do enough to take away her suffering, and that makes it very difficult for you to feel at peace with yourself now that she is gone.

I imagine that if your aunt could respond to you now, she would say,

"My dear Irma. Thank you so much for all you did for me. I never once doubted your love for me. It was so clear to me how much you cared, and how hard you tried to help and take care of me. I totally understand why you got annoyed. I was annoyed too. Please know that I will always love you. My suffering is over now, so please think of me as being peaceful and happy, because I am. I want you to be peaceful and happy too."

Grief is all about love. When you think of your aunt, focus on the love you felt for her, and the love she felt for you. That's more important than anything else, and it will last forever...everything else will fade over time.

Be kind to yourself, Irma. You did your best. You tried very hard, and that's enough.

Many blessings to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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