Bereavement How do you cope - British Lung Foun...

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Bereavement How do you cope


My partner died today having collapsed in the early hours of this morning and was an emergency admission to hospital at 3.30 this morning. When I left him at 8 am he was looking a lot better and they were trying to find him a bed. He had a chest infection for which I had been to the GP earlier this week and got some antibiotics for. At lunch time I had a phone call to say he had deteriorated. I got to the hospital with 40 minutes of the call and he had died 5 minutes before I arrived. I never got the chance to say goodbye.

I am now full of "if only". If only I hadn't left him to go to work. If only the hospital had phone me sooner. If only I had got a taxi, if only I had drven direct to the hospital and not bothered about a parking place. If only I hadn't said what I had said the night before, if only I could have said goodbye. We only had 6 months from diagnosis to today. I was hoping to make the best of the summer knowing it would probably be the last he would be able to do anything.

I just don't know how to stop crying and can't forgive my self for what I said yesterday. Yesterday he said something on the phone to a friend and later talking to that person I said to her "I could kill him for that". Now he's dead. I didn't mean it but I can't take back what I said and I was unjustifiably angry with him for what he had said and I walked out the house for 30 minutes. That was 30 minutes less with him when I could have been saying or doing nice things for him.

How do you live with the "if only" and the things you never said and the things you would not have said if you had know he would be dead in less than 24 hours.

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51 Replies

I am so sorry to hear your very sad news. It's natural for you to wonder if there was more you could have done, but I'm sure if you search your heart you will realise that there was nothing more you could have done. Sometimes sad things happen. Your husband would not want you to torture yourself with such thoughts. He is at peace now and will know how much you loved him. Thinking of you.

Margaret x

Poor you. 'If only's' solve nothing. You know you loved him, and he knew you loved him too. We all have harsh words in relationships, if we didn't it would mean we don't care.

Doctors and nurses are no better than us at predicting when someone might die. I know this with bereavements I ave been through.

All I can say is yes, it will hurt, and you will replay events over and over again. None of that means you could have done anything better, or differently. You loved each other, and that counts for a lot.

Please speak to the BLF tomorrow. Do you have family with you? You need support. I don't know what he died f, but that really doesn't matter. Do not beat yourself up over this. He would not want that. We are a freely bunch on here and are ready to listen.

Lynne xx

That was friendly bunch

My condolences to you. Do not beat yourself up. Non of us know what is around the corner so you cannot second guess what would have happened if you had done this if you had done that.

There is no right or wrong way to cope with bereavement.

My husband died 6 years ago and I am still grieving but it has changed from the hard stuff to the warm stuff. When he was diagnosed I was so bloody cross with him for becoming ill when we were planning so much for the future I said some really strange things. I am sure the words you said were understood by your friend. My friends still smile about when I was trying to decide about Mels' funeral I said without thinking that he was a bloody nuisance the summer was not the right time for a funeral.

The only real advice I can give you is allow yourself time and talk. Talk about him do not shut people out and cry all you bloody want nobody knows when the final time is coming so stop with the regrets.

My thoughts and prayers are with you

Janet xx

pm me if you would like

I m so saddened by your in tears actually as it has brought my own husbands

death back to me. A similar thing the hospital called me and I rushed to the hospital which I had only left 30mins before....but I was too late. and I still ask myself why did I not stay longer, what if? what if? have my full sympathy how terrible for you. I hope you have someone with you for support.

it doesn't sound as though it was expected, with my husband who had pneumonia his heart gave out. stay strong...silly comment really..but it will ease with time...just make sure you take care....try to have something to eat and drink.

do not worry too much about things you should have said or done... we all go through that.

Ivyleaf xx

((hug)) x

i came on here because i was scared as am having flare up but now i'm just ashamed i'm not dealing better, as the nice people have already said there is no right or wrong way & it can take as long as you need & in anyway you need it to ease your pain & anger everything is "normal" as there is no non "normal" way to grieve, just take each moment as it comes & cope as you feel is right for you. god bless, & be kind to yourself


My heart goes out to you. I am sovery sorry for your bereavment. I lost my lovely dad to copd 12 months ago, he was in hospital and not expected to die I visited him the weekend before he passed over and was due to visit the next weekend, he phoned a few days after my visit and insisted on me not traveling down for the next one, said he would see me in March to watch the Cheltenham festival together, so stupidly I did not go a few days later he died and I was so angry with myself for not going to see him again one last time. I think he knew he was going as he cried when I left him something I had never seen him do before, he was angry with me at the last visit too as I had booked into a hotel rather than stay at his place, as I did not want to place any pressure on my stepmum as she was doing so much going to the hopital everyday twice a day working 2 mornings a week and she is 72 She too got a call from the hospital like you but he passed over 10 minutes before she got there. We were both full of what ifs and if only, and it was so hard so painful, but in time you begin to realise that you cannot change the past and often these things happen for a reason I now know Dad would not have liked us to see him go. Give yourself time cry as much as you need to and remember that all the emotionsyou are feeling are part of the normal grieving process at times you will feel angry sad hurt remorseful and even happy, when you reminise on the good times and then you will feel guilty for that to. Please Please do not focus on what happened before he died that is a normal part of life in a relationship, we all say and do things we regret we are only human and prone to mistakes. we do not have a crystal ball so you could not forecast what would happen. Things sometimes happen for a reason that is not clear to us at the time, focus on the good times you had together talk about him often, and know that he is free from pain and suffering now, I strongly belief that when we pass away all silly little rows are forgotten and forgiven. I will pray for you, bless you,, you will get through this,but be kind to yourself and give yourself time, come on this site when you need to as I think there are alot of amazing people here who will give you all the love and support that you need and deserveTake care of yourself your partner would not want to see you hurting so much God bless you xxxxxxxxxxx.

Don't beat yourself up with " If only's ". We all say that many times but it's just wishful thinking. If we all knew the future this forum wouldn't exist becuase we would have looked after ourselves better. Just think of the good times you spent together. I'm sure your partner would want that.


I am so sorry, what a dreadful thing to have happened, and especially how very sad he died just before you got there. Life is so cruel. But if you were the one who had died, would you want your partner to be tormenting himself as you are now? No, of course not. OK, you said something you didn't mean. Firstly that's part of being in a normal, healthy relationship, but also, I expect you've been under a great deal of stress. He would know that, so try to imagine what he would say if he was with you now. You didn't get the chance to say goodbye right at the end, but he knew you loved him anyway, not least because of all the little kindnesses you've been doing as part of his illness. That's so much more important. So whilst you grieve for him, try and remind yourself of all the happy times too

love, ff xxx

I found great comfort in these words carer999 following the death of my husband several years ago now. I hope they help you in the coming weeks and months. Please accept my deepest sympathy and sincere condolences on the loss of your beloved husband.

You can shed tears that he is gone

Or you can smile because he has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him

Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember him and only that he is gone

Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back

Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

in reply to elian

Thank you Elian for these words of comfort - I have copied them, complete with source and put them where my wonderful wife, or one of the children, will find them when I am gone. I'm sure she will eventually see the truth and find the comfort in them that this poor woman will.

Take care


so sorry its hard i know if only . yes i said the same thing it hurts like hell, you take care you are not on your own good people on hear to help you god bless xx


I first met " if only " at the age of seven on the death of my father.

They have arisen several times since but I have learned, to a degree the truths in the words that Elian has left. We don't get over these things we learn to live with them and the anguish that you are feeling will ease. My heart goes out to you.


rhinking of you. lots of lovex

One moment at a time dear Carer999, followed by one hour at a time until you can get through one day at a time.

I'm hoping you have people around you to hold and support you in your pain and grief? If not, call blf, they will guide towasrds some support. The Samaritans are there 24/7.

Thinking of you, as are all the good people here . my heart goes out to you. P

I'm so very sorry for your loss Carer999, please do not think on regrets but on the good times you shared. Your Husband wouldn't want you to feel bad about the what ifs, he is at peace now,saying prayers for you both, look after yourself as he would want,love Carol x


My condolences, Carer999. I'm responding because my wife died in quite similar circumstances only a few months ago.

At that stage, I found words,however well meant or well crafted didn't work - they just wash over you. There's a part of you can see the sense of them, but there's a disconnect - your loved other half has gone and it's devastating and no one else could possible understand what emotions you are feeling.

There's nothing wrong with feeling sad, and feeling hurt, and entertaining these wishing games called 'what if'. But ultimately it will pass - and that's not a platitude, that's a fact. Another part of your brain will gradually reassert itself. I only wish I could say it was easy. I'm weeping as I write this, my own grief has reawakened. But iI can live with this, more importantly, I know I'm 'on the mend'

Try to take the advice of others here. Try to accept the good will of others, especially in the areas of meals and company, and just hang in there.

My very best wishes to you

in reply to Hidden

What you said was so wise Arthurp. I lost my husband a year ago and do understand how carer999 is feeling. There`s a big hole left that will never be filled but every day we have to cry then wipe our eyes and carry on. God bless care999 and all those who are still mourning. Sheila xx

Really sorry to hear about your loss, i lost my precious sister 2 years ago and it still hurts,

luckily i have 2 remaining sisters and we are there to support each other.Don't beat yourself up over what if's, your husband wouldn't want that, try and keep strong, and in time you will remember the good things x

Morning carer, day at a time, sometimes it will be a minute at a time, thinking of you x.

My thoughts and prayers are with you carer999 as this sad time, please don't beat yourself up for your loss, it will get easier with time,take care xxx

Best wishes Ju


I am so so sorry to hear of your loss. I lost my precious best friend in November completely out of the blue and had not made the phone call I always did to her that week. I had been too busy, too busy! I can only say that time lessens the guilt.

Having said that you have nothing to feel guilty for. You have been a great carer, and your husband would not want you to feel guilty. Take each hour at a time. My thoughts and prayers are with you. With much love TAD xx


So sorry for your loss, and I just want to say something about what you said about your husband, in jest. I have IPF and no partner. I still work part time but mobility is difficult and of course, the cough! I have wondeerful friends and we cope by black humour, and they know I don't want pity so this is how we get through it by jokes about all sorts of things which I won't say here as it might offend some people. We often plan my funeral and suggest music and have a laugh. When i do die, I know they will not feel guilty, but will hopefully know that they helped me through this illness. So, I know if they stopped jesting, I would be worried. So your husband would have taken any comments you made as 'normal' and not meant in any other way.


I am so very, very sorry for your loss. Do not beat yourself up about what you said, I have said some nasty things to my husband, but when you are a carer, frustration, tiredness and stress can tip you over the edge as you can get so run down with everything that is going on, letting of steam seems to be the only thing that can sort it out.

I have been at the hospital through the night many, many times when my husband was rushed in and stayed with him until he was stable then went home, he could have died whilst I was away and there would have been nothing I could have done, you cannot be there 24 hours a day, you did what had to be done. We all have what-if's when someone we love dies, but life is full of 'what if's'.

Please don't be hard on yourself, you loved each other very much and that is all that you should be thinking of. If we all had crystal balls then life would be a heck of a lot easier as we could see what was coming and sort it out accordingly but we don't.

My thoughts are with you.

Best wishes


I am so sorry for your loss, my partner had to leave me 15 years ago in almost the same circumstances as yours it's such a total shock. my love to you and your family at this most sad time in your lifex

So very sorry to hear of your devastating news but please do not blame yourself for anything. I am a carer too and it is so hard at times to keep on top of things and be all smiley and nice when you are upset and angry inside. We all say things we don't mean as that is human nature. There are times when I get cross with Pete and maybe say things to family members that could be deemed as unkind but I don't mean them. Sometimes, we just want the person we used to have but illness changes all that. I hope you have family with you or at least somebody close you can talk to. When you feel up to it, get in touch with a bereavement counsellor who may be able to help you come to terms with your loss. Please look after yourself and use this site to chat whenever you feel like it as there are some amazing people on here. Thinking of you at this very sad time. xxxxxxxxx

thinking of you, Godbless xx


FAO Carer999

We are all so sorry to hear your sad news. Please try not to torture yourself with "what if's" etc they only serve to load on more guilt and upset and really are not at all helpful. Take it easy and be kind to yourself, you did all you could at the time.

Support is here on the forum and at the helpline so please, please call or email or access in any way you wish either now or in the future.

Take care


hi carer999 i first of all wish to pass on my condolences. i doubt we are ever prepared for death. and im a great believer in if you could not get there then there was a reason. weather it be your husband didn't want you to see him gasp for that last breath.or he was feeling discomfort whatever the reason im sure he spared you. we can bash our selfs up over and over again about if only or what if. none of which we are really to blame for. there is a forum on here for help with coming to terms with losing a loved one. when i lost my dad i felt id never get over it. he had lived with me and my family we had taken care of him done everything for him. my kids were so upset my youngest daughter tried to take her own life. then i sat and said you know darling were all only here for a time on this earth and when our time comes there is nothing we or anyone eals can do to prevent it. and you must look on it that they are no longer struggling to breath or in pain. im sure your husband will be so pleased he no longer is struggling for breath and that he also is free of pain and in all fairness he has set you free from seeing him suffer and feeling you cant do anything to help him get well. so please put all the if only s and had i done this or that.because deep down no matter what you could not have saved him. and instead of saying you never got to say goodbye then start to realise the last time you spoke to him or helped him get to hospital you had indeed said goodbye. there are counselors that deal with bereavement. and they will have most likely to be someone that has lost a loved one as well. and feel free to message me privately. or look me up on fb il be more then happy to listen to you and try help. but please remember he is happy in the fact he no longer is suffering. he is free of all the pain hurt suffering. take care hope this has given you a little light and hope. and helped to start the healing process. xxx

dear carer! I am deeply sorry to hear of your news about your husband! I myself haven't exactly gone through the same thing as I wasn't the one doing the caring I however lost family members, my uncle died of heart problem he was 65 if I got his age right his Mum my Gran died of complications to do with her health and she was 89 and I was close to my Nan then my sister who is about five & half or six years younger than me I can't remember the exact years in between my sister &, I but I'm 45 yrs of age, she died of a massive heart attack caused by clot or something,& my son has asthma & he's on quite a bit of medication so that is Life threatening & have had a couple of frights, so it's not quite the same but is scary knowing anything could happen at any given time!I didn't get on to well with my sister alot of our family didn't get on with her,I did begin to get on well before she died & I didn't make it to her funeral neither,wasn't sure I was going anyway it was so very far away,we live in London & my sis lived in warkshire or not far from Lemmington spa,sorry about the spelling if only the dictionary was in reach!it was weired I just felt numb for quite a while & still feel numb!I really hope you get the support you need & that you get through this very sad time it is a terrible shock to be told your husband has gone after being told or seeing that he was improving! please don't punish your self there really is nothing you could of done seriously! you will find a way to get through this sadness it's going to take a very long time as it naturally would do so but please stay strong my thoughts are with you Godbless you!xx


Dear Carer999

Don't worry about the what ifs in life, but be happy for what you both had and shared.

May the arms of love surround you always.

All Is Well

Death is nothing at all,

I have only slipped into the next room

I am I and you are you

Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by my old familiar name,

Speak to me in the easy way which you always used

Put no difference in your tone,

Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me, pray and bless all our moments.

Let my name be ever the household world that it always was,

Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.

It is the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,

Just around the corner.

All is well.

From the words of Henry Scott Holland


Canon of St Paul 's Cathedral

in reply to Hidden

this was read out yesterday for richard, so beautiful.

in reply to amagran

Hugs x

Love and prayers carer 999 xx


That is such awful timing for you. Think about 'what if' and you will see that you can ask all sorts of what ifs - and feel better !!! what if you had not taken him to hospital ? what if he had died alone while you were at work ? what if you he didn't know you cared? see - so many what ifs that will help you....go on make up some more from your life - then you will see how much you and he had together and remember the poetry of it, sad as you will be right now, be sad for the right reasons not for guilt that seems not deserved at all.

If you had overheard him saying the same about you, you know that you would have taken it that he was upset at something, not that he meant those words. xxx

I am so very sorry to read of your husband's sudden death today. What a hideous shock. Please try, if you can, not to torture yourself with the what ifs and if only's. They are though a very understandable response, a desperate plea to try and rearrange everything and a desperate bid for none of it to be true, to rewind, to bring him back. I do understand and am so sorry. They are only a part of the picture, and that picture is huge and complex and tracks back over all the life you have shared together. And, in the end, there is the enduring love and care that you will have had for one another. And that abides and always will. IPF is a shit awful condition, as is any other, my husband died of it last year. The circumstances in which the end arrives are utterly unpredictable and you will have done your absolute best. I remember once trying to almost obsessively make the bed absolutely perfect and crease-free and cosy because it was all I could do - but in truth it was all I could do, I could not do what I really wanted to do, which was to iron out the reality.

Please don't be hard on yourself. Take very good care and be endlessly gentle and forgiving of yourself because you have been, and are going through, the worst of times. Take each day as best you can. And then get up and do the next one as best you can - I'm not the best one to talk, I only got up at 4pm today (its the first full week I've taken off since returning to work after my husband died last summer) ... but I have got up, and if I hadn't it would be ok, I will get up tomorrow and try again.

With all my very best wishes.

so sorry carer99, I feel your pain, today we said a final goodbye to richard, he died on saturday and it seems like months ago, guilt, anger, despair, sadness, I've felt it all this week and probably will for a long time, but my family have been so supportive. Its time to care for yourself now, he wouldnt want anything else, I hope you can get through these next few days, you probably wont sleep much, I havent, you'll probably clean and clean and not get anywhere, I have.please accept my heartfellt condolences. xxxxx

So sorry Carer my thoughts are with you at this very sad time. Sending you lots of hugs xxxx

So sorry to hear of your partners passing, please don't beat yourself up over the if only's, I did this with my dad, was with him in the ambulance on way to hospital, and for several hours while he received treatment, then they said he was stable and to go home, my mum stayed but myself and brother and sister went home, no sooner than we got home when the phone rang, we were told to get back to the hospital as my dad was fading fast, we didn't make it in time and I felt very guilty because we left my mum there on her own. But you know, sometimes it is meant to be, for whatever reason, and we are not supposed to be there at the time of their passing, their wish that it is to be that way. Just think of all the ways that you helped and supported him over the years and not worry about the if only's, it took me many years to understand, there will come a time when you too will understand. your partner is not suffering any more and he would not wish you to be suffering. Take care of yourself and give yourself time to grieve, be kind to yourself. Love to you xx


CARER999 - You have had wonderfully caring advice. I cannot add to it except to say read and read it over and over. One day the memories will be become warm ones. Thinking of you Annie80x.

I saw dad as much as I could, when I could. I promised dad that on the Saturday I would take him for a bath in the afternoon as he couldnt manage it in the morning when the carer came round. He was so looking forward to it. When I woke up that morning I was full of a cold. I rang and spoke to mam and said I wouldn't come down, didn't want dad to get an infection again as he had only just come out of hospital. I then went shopping with a friend, had lunch out, had a really good time. Did some food shopping for mam and dad on the way home, picking up things I knew dad liked and some treats as you do. I dropped them in the hallway, again not wanting to go in further full of germs. I shouted to dad, 'I won't come in, got some germs' and he shouted back, 'thats ok love, dont worry, u ok?' I said 'yes, im alright dad, ring you later ok' and he said 'ok love, drive safe going home, ta ra love'.

I never did ring when I got home. Don't know why. I always rang before bed. Dad never got his bath. He died during the night. That was nearly 3 months ago and the tears are falling as I write this. I never got to say goodbye to dad and be with him at the end. Neither did mam. But having had the time to reflect and think and grieve, I accept what happened was the way it was meant to be and we only hope that dad didn't suffer. Mam has lovely memories of them on their last evening and she will treasure that forever. I have gone through a list of if only's and accept what happened now but maybe its the time that has passed has helped that.

We all say things in the heat of the moment and I am sure that your husband would not have really noticed what you said because it was you two just probably being 'you two' on a typical day. It is only on reflection now that you are putting meaning into the words spoken when at the time it was exactly that, just words. You may not think it is helping you with the what ifs but maybe it will help you as time goes on. There is no rule book how to grieve and you must do what you feel is right for you. One day at a time, or one hour at a time. It doesn't matter.

My heart goes out to you xxxxxxxxxxx


My heart goes out to you, i understand, It will get easier, with time. You must be kind to yourself, and dont beat yourself up with the 'if onlys'. I still do that, but your loved one wouldnt want you suffering like this. Try and focus on the lovely times, happy memories. 'Talk' to your loved one, i do, and i believe they can hear us. I havent lost my partner to a lung disease, i have copd. But 8 weeks ago i lost my best friend, my Mother. She was 92,but bereavement is the same for us all, though different circs i know. But the pain is the same, and with time it will get easier. I hope you feel better soon, take care. There are people thinking of you and trying to give you strength.


Hi I am so sorry for your loss. I think it is normal to feel guilty when a loved one dies. Its easy to beat yourself up. I felt the same when my dad died - why didn't I visit him more, why wasn't I there when he died. You can go on and on and drive yourself mad. Even though he has been dead more than 4 years now I still say sorry sometimes and hope he can hear me. But over time grief does move more into the background and although you never 'get over it' you have to learn to live with it. I don't know why, but you do.

Its still so very recent for you though you need to give yourself time to grieve and continue the grieving process. Over time you will come to terms with it. I agree that it helps to think of the many happy memories you shared with each other. I am very sure he knew that you loved him and that he loved you. I believe that he will be with you for the rest of your life and you will join him again one day.

Lots of hugs xxxx

Bev x

I would like to thank you all. I have been dropping in and reading everyones comments. You have all been so kind. I don't have any family and as we always did things just as the two of us I have no friends either. I know people but they are not the sort I feel I could talk to and just have a good cry with.

I am crying now as I type this and I cry every time I read all you comments.

Thank you your're a wonderful group of people.

in reply to carer999

The 'if only' feelings are perfectly normal, a part of grief, as is anger, and lots of other things. I found it useful to read about grief and its journey when my husband died and learned a lot about accepting whatever you feel.

Every death brings its own grief, and each grief is different - whatever you feel it is OK to feel it.

When my husband died we had a reading from "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran at his funeral, if you have problems breathing you may relate to this small part of the reading:

"For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?"

Fantastic words from a very wise man, I like the idea that when I die I'll release my poor old breath to be free.

Read as much as you can about grief, get help if you need it from Cruse, and come on here often to feel the love. xxx Angela

I am so sorry I wish you peace. i am a carer for my husband too so I know what you mean.

try thinking he at peace and at rest now. for every if only there a glad he is not .

and allways we are here keep in contact and lots of love

I know exactly what you are going through hun,i too lost my husband recently and i to ask myself what if or if only,if you ever what to chat i,ll pm you my email address,big hugs xxx

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