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Guilty Over My Husband's Dying Reaction After Telling Him The Angels Were There & OK To Go With Them 
Started by FloridaSunset
20 May 2013, 7:08 PM

Being a private person, and losing the love of my life just days ago, I am reaching out for answers from whoever has spoken words to their dying loved one that they now regret.  After six years of living courageously with cancer, and hardly ever showing his physical or emotional pain, my husband is now gone – and the last words I spoke to him will forever haunt me.  I said what I believed I was supposed to say at the time but his reaction will haunt me forever.  The last few days he was only awake for moments at a time and aware of me.  There was always a “thank you” after even a small piece of ice, and always three kisses whenever I placed my lips on his, right up to the early morning that he died. 


Often while he was sleeping I would tell him it was OK to go when it was time.  That I would be fine. That I loved him so much and always would.  The last few days I read often softly outloud, 3 prayers while he slept – but maybe only his eyes were closed.  A catholic prayer, A protestant prayer, an American Indian prayer.  The day before I asked a Hospice Chaplain to pray with me at his bedside.  The Chaplains voice was loud and my husband awoke with a frightened look on his face.  My first guilty memory.  He looked so scared and his mouth moved trying to desperately to speak.


The following morning once again I read my prayers.  His skin was so moist and salty that I knew death would be coming.  The Hospice nurse’s visit the day before said a few days to a week.  I gently patted his face and arms with a cool damp cloth.  He woke and stared at me and it is then that I said the words that I believe scared him so badly, and that he was for the first time in our lives together, truly angry with me.   I told him that the Angels were here – They were waiting to take him to Heaven – That Jesus, my parents who loved him dearly, and my little boy (who died of before I met him of a childhood cancer at age of 3 ½) would be there, along with all of his family and friends.  I told him to give my little boy a hug from me and to take care of him in Heaven.  I told him it was OK to go – I would be fine.  His eyes remained open and staring at me the whole time – with such a frightened look – his mouth open and his head moving, he desperately tried to move his lips to speak.   The hand that I was holding during those words suddenly and so strongly was pushed away, almost pushing me off balance.  I pushed it back and told him he was pretty strong all of a sudden but I wasn’t going to leave him.  I was going to stay right there with him.  Within seconds there were only two deep breaths and he was gone.  I stayed beside him talking for hours, stepping away for a few moments at a time to turn on and play some of his favorite music.  I washed him, replaced the bed linens, dressed him in his favorite soft t-shirt and shorts.  I cried, I talked, I laid beside him for hours before calling the Hospice nurse.  Every moment since the moment he died I can’t get those last seconds out of my mind.  Had I not spoken the words that I feel scared him so bad he might have slipped away peacefully in his sleep and I could have had a few more days.  Has anyone found a way to forgive yourself for words that should never have been spoken?  If I can get past the pain I saw in his face and his eyes those last seconds I believe I can in time accept a world without him and move forward.  But until then my heart and mind feel a pain beyond explanation. Wow – thought it would feel better to get it all out, but somehow that scene  is becoming even more clear and the guilt from words that I should have never been said stronger. 
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Reply by moderator | modératrice
20 May 2013, 9:32 PM

Dear FloridaSunset,

Welcome to Virtual Hospice. I'm so sorry that you are struggling with such guilt. To me the words that you spoke to your husband are words of comfort. They come from a place of incredible strength, selflessness and compassion. Too many people try to hold on to a loved one, not able to give them "permission" to go. 

Alas, we have little control over the feelings and thoughts of others - even our closest loved ones. It pains me to this day that my father-in-law was terrified of death. He, too, had strong faith and the caring guidance of spiritual counselling, but nothing could alay his fears. 

Was it really your words that caused him to find enough physical strength to push your arm away? Was he trying to find enough strength to tell you that he would hug your little boy for you and take care of him? Was he struggling to show you his strength one last time to show you he could still take care of you?

It will always remain a mystery and I would like to think that your words provided him solace to go on a journey of the unknown - that it was this journey not your words that made him react in fear. Would this reframing help you absolve yourself and turn to the sweet moments remembering how you love each other and how you cared from him?

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Reply by Tian
20 May 2013, 9:35 PM

Dear FloridaSunset

First of all you have my sincere condolences on the passing of your husband. I too have said words that I have deeply regretted although not to a person who was dying. Your circumstances make it particularly painful. However can you determine how much of how you feel is due to your husband's passing and how much to your words of regret? It must mostly be due to the passing of the love of your life. It's certainly unfortunate that he didn't react well to your last words but it's impossible to know just what he was thinking or, given his condition, how clearly he could think. I'm particularly struck by your saying that he was truly angry with you for the first time in your lives. I greatly envy you for having had such a relationship. You can not let the final moments define the love you shared. Even if he was afraid I doubt that your husband did. I don't know how long it will take but your pain will ease.

I am curious to know just why what you said upset your husband although that doesn't change what I expressed above. Thank you for sharing with us. Please continue to let us know how you are feeling.

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Reply by Loll
20 May 2013, 9:37 PM

Dear Florida Sunset,

It sounds to me that you are feeling overwhelmed with grief and guilt, you poor thing.  Please try to stop feeling guilt.  the words you said were, and were intended to be, words of comfort and peace, and you have no reason to feel guilty for sending a peaceful and comforting message to your husband.  Please kn ow that he knows your intention was not to upset him, but to send him on the next part of his journey knowing that you love him and  wanted him to finally be at peace and pain free.  He knows.  And if you feel you need to explain, it's ok to sit down and talk as if he's still with you in person, and even if he's not physically there, he will hear you and he will understand.

My thoughts are with you in your grief.

Take care

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Reply by PPP
21 May 2013, 11:38 AM

Hello to Everyone

I read your post FloridaSunset and wanted to assure you that you did nothing out of the ordinary when faced with death.  You should not feel any guilt and that you did what you felt was right.

I understand where the guilt may come from.  I felt guilty too when my husband died.  I felt guilty that I never realized he may die within the time line they gave him, a few days.  He seemed fine the day before he died and you always have hope that the doctors are probably exaggerating for your sake.  So, yes I still feel guilty I did not talk to him as you did.  When I realized he was dying, he was incoherent.  However, they say the last thing that stays the same before death is hearing.  So I have come to an agreement with myself that he heard all the love I had for him for 44 years. 

Grieving for loved ones and accepting it is the hardest journey anyone can take.  It is always with you but the hurt lessens with time.  It has been a little over a year now since Avery died and I still feel the pain some days like it was yesterday.  Understand that grief takes twists and turns that you never realize until you go through it.  There is no time frame for grief.  I have fought with this time frame myself.  I should not be crying now!  I should be at this place in my life.  But it doesn’t work that way!  We are too hard on ourselves, as I have been, and have finally realized that after a year! 

I have been fortunate with Virtual Hospice as it helped me through the grieving process by sharing my thoughts with everyone here.  We all share your grief as we have been walking the same path.



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Reply by FloridaSunset
25 May 2013, 12:04 AM

Hello & Thank You to all those who so quickly responded.  I’ve now moved from crying to numbness.  ? Normal I Guess ?

Your words of comfort were so welcome at the moments they were needed most.  I am still struggling to imagine other reasons his last moments were so full of fear and trying to accept it might not have been my fault.

A few days ago I listened to the Moody Blues song “Bless the Wings” (That Bring You Back) which I found while playing music from my husband’s Ipod “Favorites”.  If you have a chance, please find the music and lyrics on the Internet.   It has given me some comfort listening to it and think others will find it helpful, too.
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Reply by Tian
25 May 2013, 12:39 AM

Dear FloridaSunset

Thank you for introducing me to the beautiful lyrics of "Bless the Wings." I wonder if you might also get comfort from the Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin"

Just what the truth is I can't say any more
'Cause I love you, yes I love you
Oh how I love you, oh how I love you

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Reply by JennJilks
28 May 2013, 2:12 AM

I think what we need to remember is that we make the best decisions you can at the time, with the information you have on hand!
Often what we say is intended to comfort ourselves as much as our care recipients.
You have no idea what your husband was feeling, or reacting to.
Forgive yourself.
Your late husband already has. 
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Reply by eKIM
28 May 2013, 5:58 PM

Dear FloridaSunset

My VH name is Ekim.  I have been a “resident support” and “spiritual care” volunteer at or local hospice for several years now and have observed scores of people coping with the experience of dying.

First of all, my sincere condolences for your loss.  Secondly, your story has touched me deeply to my soul.  Somehow, it resonates with me even though I have not shared your experience.  I am not a trained professional of any kind.  I am a simple person offering compassion.  Everything that I say here is anecdotal, not scientific, so please discount it readily, if you choose to.

Although I could share dozens of stories to show the variety of responses in the final moments, I will instead layout a simplistic observation.  I hope that it brings you comfort.

I have seen three broad categories of people experiencing their final moments:  I will define them as follows:

    • The Expediters    In my experience and observation, these people make up only a tiny percentage of the total.  These people have decided that “now is the time” and they are ready to pass over to the other side.  I recently sat with a lady who was a holocaust survivor.  She had indicated that she was ready to “go”.  I knew this to be true because she refused to open her mouth when I tried to feed her some oatmeal and she blew bubbles through the straw into the water as I tried to give her something to drink.
    • The Accepters   In my experience and observation, these people make up the vast majority of the total.  They don’t necessarily want to “go”, however they accept the inevitable with grace and in the most part have a very peaceful death.
    • The Fighters   In my experience and observation, these people make up only a tiny percentage of the total.  They fall into two categories, a) those that want to suck every second out of the time that they have on earth and b) those that genuinely fear death, fear the unknown.  I apologize in advance for my presumptiveness, but I am guessing that your husband fell into the later category.
I have observed people dying in fear and this is my non-professional opinion: This fear can be so powerful (in combination with the effects of the drugs in the system that it can overwhelm one’s ability to think straight.
I would like to think that this was the case with your husband.  I can only wonder (but my loving side would like to presume) that his reaction in his final moments was totally independent of your comments, even your presence.  My presumption is based entirely on intuition and the hope to bring you some measure of comfort.
When your husband arrived at our next plane of existence, the place of Love, Peace, Joy and Comfort, I believe that his fears vanished.  Then he was fully, consciously and willingly able to hear your gentle words as you lay beside him.  He was not able to communicate with you at that moment to apologize for his reaction and to comfort you, but that is what he would have wanted to do.  In your quiet moments, sit back and open yourself to the communication of spirits.  You won’t hear anything with our limited human auditory system, however I believe that in the deepest, most sacred part of yourself you will be aware of this two way communication and you will find your answer, you will find your peace.
I must tell you that I am not a churchgoer and I am not proselytizing.  I do consider myself to be a very spiritual person, however.
God, as I re-read this I realize how simplistic it all sounds.  A true “intellectual secularist” would rip me to shreds.  However, what I say, I believe and also my motivation is pure.  I simply want you to find peace, joy, love and comfort, little FloridaSunsetGirl.


- ekim

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Reply by Loll
28 May 2013, 8:38 PM

Dear Ekim,

Your words to FloridaSunsetGirl are beautiful, and I believe 100% in your philosophy.  My Dad is about to pass away, within a couple of weeks, anyway.  I will re-read your words when the times comes for me to find comfort.   

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