Letting go

Discussion in 'Life After Caregiving' started by edj9, Jul 17, 2020.

  1. edj9

    edj9 Well-Known Member

    I lost my husband of 28 years Dec 2019 after a protracted struggle with multiple comorbidities. Towards the end, his mobility was severely hampered, his kidneys had failed, and he was in constant pain and discomfort. But his mind was lucid. One day, quite out of character, he said urgently that he wanted to go to the hospital. So I bundled him into the wheelchair van that we had bought just a couple of months before, and drove him to Marin General. The next day he had a massive coronary and was wheeled into the operating room. I thought that I would not see him again. But the doctor emerged and said that even though what they just tried didn’t work, they could try again later when he was stronger. So I thought that I would have a little more time with him.

    When I reached the recovery room, the doctor pulled me aside and told me that they didn’t think he would last the next 4 hours, and that I had to decide whether to put him on a ventilator. For the first time in my life, I nearly passed out. But in 5 minutes I weighed the outcomes: subject a clostrophobic Vietnam Vet to torturous intubation with the slim hope of keeping him alive for a few more days just so he could keep me company a bit longer, or to allow him to die peacefully, hopped up on morphine, thinking that he was coming home soon.

    Kind of a no-brainer.

    So I decided in that moment to let him go. So I told the doctor and nurses, and then went into spend my last moments with my one and only love, and put on a mask of cheer and optimism even though I had already died inside, and accompanied him on the last leg of his journey.

    Those moments will haunt me for the rest of my life. On the one hand, I feel blessed that I could give him a relatively trauma-free death. On the other, I feel like I killed him with my own two hands.

    If anyone has had a similar experience, I’d really appreciate your sharing.
    TinyMamalava likes this.
  2. Sheila512

    Sheila512 Well-Known Member

    I did not have a similar experience, but, I can relate to having to stop fighting and let it happen. You did what he wanted you yo do and you did what he would have done for you. Erase the guilt...you did him a favor and sacrificed a few more days for his eternal rest. Stop beating yourself up. Look at his pictures, talk to him, talk about him and remember how he influenced your life . You were blesses with a true love. Savor that he never suffered more than necessary and that you did your best for him Peace and be Safe
    TinyMamalava and edj9 like this.
  3. edj9

    edj9 Well-Known Member

    Thank you,Sheila, for your kind an compassionate reply. It’s so hard to reconcile the rational with the emotional. He had expressed to me several times a desire to commit suicide, but he was holding, powering through the suffering because he knew I would be devastated. The least I could do was swallow my own selfishness and give him the gift of peace. But I miss him so much. I just wish I could have protected him from all the suffering.
    TinyMamalava likes this.
  4. JMD

    JMD Well-Known Member

    Thank you for these posts. My husband passed away in July from a side effect of one of the medications used to treat his lung cancer. He had pneumonitis, severe inflammation in his lungs and over a couple of weeks, lost his ability to get oxygen to his body. He was only 59. Watching him decline was like trying to hold water in my hands, He was also lucid and able to make his own decisions, right up until the last night of his life. The conversations that were had around the end of his life lacked compassion and kindness for some reason, One of his doctors said that he would not put him on a ventilator because he would very likely not be able to come off of it. ‘If you want him intubated, you’re going to have to find someone else to do it’. Didn’t feel like our choice. Michael wanted to fight. There were times I felt pressured to go against that. I held firm that we would follow what Michael wanted as long as he was able to make his own decisions. I am grateful for that. We agreed not to put him on a ventilator because Michael understood that asleep on a ventilator was not living. I’ll never be absolutely sure that this was the right decision - hard to know which way he would have suffered more - but it’s the one we agreed to and I’m trying to come to terms with it. What I do know is that I was devoted to him in sickness and in health and I gave him every bit of my best effort always. I advocated for him every step of the way, and I believe in my heart he knew that. He felt safer with me present so I never left his side. Hoping for peace with time.
    TinyMamalava likes this.
  5. Ranvaering

    Ranvaering Member

    I also want to say thank you for these posts. I didn't have to make the decision - my mom had signed a Do Not Resuscitate order - but I got to find out that, once they determined after the stroke that she was unable to swallow anything, that meant no IV fluids or anything . Despite COVID (this was in June), I was able to stay with her in a separate room in the nursing home for her last 54 hours. Toward the end she refused to open her mouth to let me or one of the aides swab out the accumulating mucus. I feel like I should have been able to do more for her.