A hand reaches out to hold one that is slowly disappearing with a broken heart in the background.

A Caregiver's Love and Guilt

Have you ever found yourself wishing for your loved one's death? Maybe not specifically for their death, but for an end to their suffering? I am not ashamed to admit that there were several times during my mom's Alzheimer's battle that I wished she would die.

I wanted her suffering to end and I was well aware that would only come with her death. Relief from Alzheimer's can only come in the form of death. You can't have one without the other.

Witnessing first-hand

Watching my mom's slow decline over the course of ten years was painful and I often just wanted it to be over with already. I would hear the news that someone else's loved one had passed after only a few years of suffering from a disease and I would question why my mom had to suffer for so long. I often felt jealous of others whose journey had not been as long as ours.

Wishing to end their suffering

I knew I wasn't wishing for my mom's death because I wanted her to die, but because I wanted her suffering to end. I loved her so much that I was willing to let her go so that she wouldn't have to suffer any longer. Selfishly, I also wanted my suffering to end.

It was so hard to witness my mom's deterioration from the disease. I constantly wondered when it was going to end, and how it was going to end. I was tired of the uncertainty. I just wanted an answer – a resolution.

The guilt of wishing for death

However, I knew that would only come from my mom's death and her death meant that she would be physically gone forever. I was overwhelmed with guilt at the thought that I could wish for such a thing.

How could I want my mom to die? How could I possibly wish for her death?

Learning the difference

At some point, I realized that there are far worse things than death. Many of the things my mom went through with Alzheimer's were far more difficult than death. Having to watch my mom go through them was often harder than the thought of her being permanently gone.

Changing your view from selfish to selfless

I used to think I was the only one who felt this way until I was vulnerable enough to share my thoughts and feelings with others. That is when I discovered that most, if not all, caregivers have had my exact thoughts and feelings.

If you are struggling with guilt for having these thoughts yourself, please know you are not alone. It is not only normal to feel this way, it is justified.

It isn't selfish. It is actually selfless. You love your loved one so much that you are willing to let them go if it means they will no longer have to suffer from this horrific disease.

You courageously let go even though you want to desperately hold on forever. You are not wishing for their death. You are wishing for an end to their suffering, even though it means you will have to go on living without them. That is the price we pay for loving someone so much.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AlzheimersDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.