Feeling guilty over difficult decision

My Son originally lived with his Mum & stayed with me a couple of nights per week. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse & his Mum got involved with a Heroin addict & then she developed drug issues. I had to take the decision just over a year ago to have my Son stay full time with me. This is what he wanted & what I believed was in his best interests. It’s been an extremely difficult time for us all with a lot of ups & down, but we have managed to tackle things together.

At the beginning of all this my Dad who is now 63 moved back from Italy where he was living & moved in with me for 6 months until he found somewhere. He found a sheltered accommodation & moved into there just before my Son came to live with me full time. At the end of November my Dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer which had spread to his brain & was given months to live. He was in Hospital for 3 weeks & we could not visit him due to Covid. Due to the brain cancer, he had suffered some facial drooping & wasn’t able to eat or drink normally, so he had a NJ tube fitted. The NHS did a continuing healthcare fast-track discharge at the end of December. It was an extremely stressful time for everyone trying to organise different organizations to get him home. I had considered taking my Dad into my home, but I was extremely concerned for the impact it could have on my Son. I had to consider things such as the times my son maybe alone for a while with his Grandad who was nearing the end of life & how this could frighten him. I was told that my Dad could suffer seizures & fits which I believe would have impacted my Son. I spoke to my Son about his Grandad & asked him how he felt & how would he feel seeing Grandad poorly. He said he would prefer not to see him & would prefer to remember him how he was & not like he is now unable to walk & with tubes feeding him. I also had to take into consideration the difficult time my Son already had suffered with his Mum & how he was still coming to terms with that. I just could not bring myself to not listening to my Sons concerns & feelings.

My Dad is now at his home & he has careers going in 4 times a day. His Sister stays 2 to 3 days & I stay once a week when I can but visit him every evening for a few hours to help him & spend some quality time together. He is slowly deteriorating & can no longer make it to the bathroom & his pain is increasing every day, so his Morphine has been going up weekly. He is becoming short tempered & losing his memory. His speech is becoming unrecognizable & I find it difficult to understand him. I can no longer remember what my Dad used to look like & when I close my eyes, I just see this poorly man who I barely recognize. My Son speaks to him occasionally on the phone but is quite adamant that he would rather not see him & my Dad does understand this & did say he knows his grandson is very sensitive. I am now finding things very difficult keeping it all together mentally & emotionally & now I find guilt creeping in. I keep feeling like I am not doing enough & I keep thinking that I am a bad person for not having my Dad stay here while he is dying but I couldn’t bring myself to having him here & it effecting my Son. I just think it would have been too much for my Son to handle mentally & emotionally especially as the end nears & things can get quite upsetting.

Has anyone been through something similar?

Hi Tony

You did the right thing, and the only thing you could do in the circumstances.

You put your son first, which is what any good parent should do.

You had very difficult choices to make. I would have made the same one.

Doesn’t make it any easier.

You did the right thing. It sounds like he now needs much more care though. Have you asked for more?

Hi Tony, welcome to the forum

Sorry to hear you’re having a difficult time, it must be hard with your Dad being so ill and everything that goes with that.

Do have a look through our help and advice pages, there’s lots there that might help you at this time:

Best wishes


Thanks for your reply. I do need more help now as my aunty who was able to stay with my Dad 2 to 3 nights per week has to self isolate so I have no idea what I am going to do. My Dad is on his way home today & luckily I have an appointment tomorrow with a nurse from St Gemma’s hospice so I am hoping she maybe able to help in some way. My Dad has had 2 assessment for over night care but because he doesn’t really want it he managed to cope during the night so it appeared to the assessors that he does not require any help. I literally have no idea what to do as I can only manage to stay over with my Dad one night per week due to having full care of my Son, working from home & home schooling.

Hi Cloudygal thanks for your reply. After having a good think about it & speaking to a friend who has been through a similar situation I do believe I have made the right choice in the best interest of my sons welfare. I still feel bad about it & hope I can come to terms with it in the future.

As he has already been granted Continuing Healthcare, I think you need to be very firm with them, and tell them that you CANNOT care for dad.
He is entitled to 24/7 help, if he chooses to refuse that help, it doesn’t mean you have to step in instead. Sadly, I know how stubborn elderly folk can be, I supported all four of our parents in their final years.

I have phoned the Health Case management team & also the Neighborhood night service who should be phoning me back shortly. I am going to tell them that I just cannot do any more than I am doing. As you say if my Dad refuses help there is not much more I can do because I physically cannot do much more with my current situation. I feel extremely sad for my Dad but I have my Son to think about & he has already been through enough this last year or so.

You are no good to father or son if you get ill.
Your son has to be your top priority.
If dad refuses help, he has to accept the consequences.