How come I feel so guilty about the drugs that were administered during hospice?

4 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Oegongirl asked...

I just feel that the drugs that hospice uses seem a bit strong. I am not a skilled nurse. I wish I had just let him go to the hospital and be treated there. I feel like they might have been able to help him live longer. But, we both promised each other we would die at home. I don't know the side affects of these drugs. What they do to a person. I was assured by the nurse that I could not overdose him. How do they know? After he died, there were so many drugs left over and they threw them all away. I just think that a novice person should not be allowed to be the one to give the drugs. Maybe hospice was not right for us. Am I feeling like anyone else who used hospice? I remember when my mom was on hospice and she had to have morphine about every 10 to 20 minutes toward the end. Or at least I remember it that way. I just hate drugs and should have been honest with myself and hospice about being the one to administer these drugs. I kept a diary because I was so afraid of the drugs.

Expert Answers

Ed Markin, BS, MBA, PhD, is the director of research for the Alzheimer's Disease Research Foundation and author of more than a dozen books. For the past 15 years, Markin has operated the Funeral Help Program.

Second guessing one's decisions in an 'end of life' situation is commonplace, but since your husband and you discussed this eventuality beforehand, you really shouldn't. It's always a difficult choice between treating the pain--and accepting drowsiness/inattentiveness that comes with the treatment--and keeping the loved one mentally focused and alert, yet suffering. At least this is what the caregiver often believes. The truth is rarely that simple since extreme pain may well cause even more distraction and, in some cases, anger/hurt at being denied relief. As the good doctor said earlier, quality of life is more important than duration where severe pain accompanies a terminal condition.
Caring people will not subject a loved pet to suffer with a terminal illness and our loved ones deserve at least as much consideration. He wanted to die at home, you fulfilled his wish and did the best you could. He would be proud of you, so be at peace with yourself.

Community Answers

Ladislav volicer, md answered...

Do not feel guilty, you did the right thing. Your husband needed these medications to die peacefully. At the end, quality of life (absence of discomfort) is more important than the length of life. It is too bad that the medications have to be discarded but that is the law.

Bbdaneker answered...

Hello, I've heard this many times, where caregivers review every part of the end of life experience. I agree with both responders, you certainly added to his level of comfort at home. You did not cause or hasten his death, in fact you likely had more control of his surroundings and level of rest. When your physician prescribed hospice, he or she knew there would be another medical professional reviewing the program of care he was to receive at home. Hospice nurses are familiar with the medicines and they advise caregivers on administration. It is difficult to overdose at this late stage. It is easy to question your behaviour or others', but he is at peace now. Give yourself permission to continue on.

The grateful one answered...

I agree with the previous responses. My husband suffered a long time. Even though he slept or was a bit groggy near the end when on morphine, at least he wasn't suffering any more. That in itself was a comfort to me.