Missing the Moment of Death

alone at death

When my husband was dying, I spent as much time with him as I could. I didn’t want him to die alone and I promised him I would be there for him. But I left him for just half an hour and that’s when he died. I wasn’t there to hold his hand as he took his last breath and I have felt guilty about that ever since. People have told me there was no way I could predict when he would take his last breath, but I still feel bad that I let him down. Do you have any words about this that might help?

I’m really sorry you are feeling guilty about this. It is true that it is hard to predict the exact time of death and no one can remain with a dying person 24 hours a day. Your husband may have just died by chance at the time you briefly left, but it is also very possible he needed to be alone to be able to let go and die. Very often someone will die when the person closest to them is out of the room or out of the house. I have heard of many cases where this was so. Some people may prefer to have someone nearby holding their hand, but others need some space. Your husband needed to let you go and go on in his process and perhaps he was more able to do that when you were away briefly. If you can forgive yourself for not being present at the moment of death, you will be more free to simply feel your  love for him and treasure the memories of the life you shared.

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