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Never visited my step mom with dementia & now feeling guilty

My dad's girlfriend was a great lady. She helped fix my relationship with both my parents, and treated me like a daughter and my kids like her grandchildren. 7 yrs ago she began to develop dementia and was saying the weirdest things and not remembering things. I was busy in my life building a career, my husband starting a new business which I had to help with, raising kids and so on. My dad and her were at my house almost every weekend except for the 2 yrs we tried to start a business. I did not do anything about it or take the effort to call her everyday, however, like I said I did invite her to all our events. Then she was admitted 4 yrs ago to a home and I saw her once before she was admitted and said my goodbyes and she didn't even recognize me or my family. I didn't visit her once in the 4 yrs she was in the home and now she is gone. My dad went everyday and told me how she was, showed me pics, told me she no longer spoke english and I wouldn't understand her so I just thought what's the point of going, she doesn't even recognize my dad. So now that she is gone, why am I feeling so bad when even her kids never visited her!
Status: Open    May 12, 2016 - 01:06 PM

Dementia, Relationships

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Expert Answers

May 17, 2016 - 11:11 AM

It sounds like she made quite an impact in your life and she held a special place for you. Between treating you as a daughter and your children as her grandkids to even helping restore relationships that matter to you. Life seems to speed by and things get busy all of the time. I'm sure you were especially busy starting a new business. Perhaps due to the business of life and the lost connection with her (since she was at your house every weekend) you may feel like you never had the closure since she has now passed. You could try holding a personal memorial service honoring her memory and the times that you shared within the privacy of your own home. Sometimes we just need to say goodbye when we do not get the chance to or feel guilt after someone is gone that we should have or could have done more. Just remember that what you are feeling is normal, when someone touches your life and you can no longer see them or talk to them.


May 15, 2016 - 07:15 AM

You can't change the past, so focus on the future. The demands of your life get in the way of good intentions. You are feeling bad because you are a good person. Maybe her kids, who didn't visit, are feeling bad too. Think through what happened here and then plan how you will deal with this kind of situation in the future. Your dad is still with you, right? Focus on your relationship with your dad.

Jun 05, 2016 - 12:27 PM

Visiting someone will full blown dementia who doesn't recognize you isn't something you do for them. It's something you do for you. I think you still would have the same bad feeling even if you visited her. Why don't you consider volunteering for a crisis center? Helping someone else fix their life is a wonderful way to pay it back.
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