Ok, long story. I have known a (now ex)couple for decades, call them Mom and Dad. They have 3 girls together. C, the oldest, is an adopted niece. B is the second oldest and A is 7 years younger than B.
B has been friends with my oldest daughter since they were 2. C and B spent a lot of time at my house when they were teens, and disclosed at that time that they were having problems with Dad, who was having anger issues. Dad was a very strong conservative Christian, anti LGBT etc., Mom is more liberal. B came out as lesbian during high school and there was a lot of conflict. Both stated that Dad was abusing them emotionally and also hitting them. A never mentioned anything of the sort, and B voiced concern that when A became a teenager and started developing her own ideas Dad would do the same to her.
When A was 11, she was diagnosed with cancer and given 6 months to live. Dad fell into despair, and gave up hope for his baby. Mom took to the Cancer Mom life like a duck to water, starting blogs, rallying her friends around her and raising funds. She seemed the perfect mother, always posting about her daughter and her daughter's progress and setbacks. Dad is not active on social media.
Shortly after the diagnosis, Mom and Dad got divorced. Lawyers and child advocates were involved in deciding who A should live with, since she was still very young. At this time both C and B were living with me and finishing high school. I spoke to the child advocate and told them I felt A should live with Mom since she was so involved with her treatment, and because of the concerns C and B had voiced. Mom had told her friends and family that Dad was abusive to her (Mom), so I believed her.
A initially lived with Mom, then later split her time between Mom and Dad. I helped to decorate her room in Mom's apartment.
About 3 years ago, either 1. A decided to move in with Dad full time (according to Mom) or 2. Mom kicked her out (according to A and B). She lived full time with Dad and she and Mom were not speaking. I did not know about this at the time, but A said Mom had been neglecting her, and emotionally and verbally abusing her.
About 2 1/2 years ago I was at a get together where Mom, Dad, and A were present. Afterwards, Dad came to my house. He told me that A was desperate and crying, saying "Nobody believes me, not even OP, she doesn't believe Mom abused me". She then talked to me and told me "My Dad is a good person, Mom has been telling lies about him but it's her that was abusive. When I was little she would lock herself in her office and put a sign up sheet on the door where we could sign up for a time to talk to her if we needed something. When I was in the hospital if other people were around she was all over me, fussing over me, but once they left she would leave and I was alone when Dad wasn't there. She would yell at me if I had to wake her up because I needed something. " I told her that I believed her, because if someone tells you they were abused you don't get to decide they weren't.
From then on, I treated her like my daughter, because she was sick and scared and needed love. She had gone through 8 years of chemo, radiation, stem cell transplants, immunotherapy, surgery etc. etc. by then, and I felt she deserved any happiness I could give her. She refused to see or speak with Mom, but I occasionally persuaded her to let me tell Mom that she was doing ok. By this time she was 18, so legally I couldn't disclose anything other than what she permitted me to. I tried to keep Mom updated and reassured because I knew I would want to know my child was doing ok, so when she allowed it I would tell Mom that her scans looked good or she was on a new treatment, but that was very infrequent. Mainly, I could tell her that I had seen A last week and she looked happy and well.
About 18 months ago A told me that she had failed the last experimental treatment they had tried and that she was going to be put on hospice. She forbade me to say anything to Mom regarding this. I helped get her palliative care, and she was receiving regular blood transfusions because her bone marrow had pretty much shut down. She was doing well with this, although she was having difficulty walking and was on an IV pain pump.
About 12 months ago, A and Dad went on an annual family trip A really wanted to go on. They had arranged for her to get a transfusion before leaving, but when Home Health came her blood count was a tiny bit too high to qualify her for the transfusion. She and Dad went on the trip, and a few days later A became tired and listless, and was unable to get out of bed. She came back home, where she was admitted to the hospital. As we expected, her blood count was extremely low. What we didn't expect, though, was that the treating doctor refused to continue the blood transfusions, and told Dad that "This is the end". Dad and I fought for her; I called the Ethics Committee and the patient advocate, and we almost had her back on transfusions when the doctor called her Cincinnati oncologist and got him to agree to no transfusions. A is very conflict averse, so when there was a big discussion in her room she spoke up and agreed to stop transfusions.
At this point A was transferred to a local nursing home. She still forbade me from telling Mom what was happening. Several other mutual friends of Mom and Dad also knew what was happening and came to visit, but she made them promise not to tell as well. She became paler and weaker, and I got her kitty her shots and got her groomed so she could come visit. I saw her on Wednesday before I headed out of town for 6 days, and she was alert, playing with her kitty, and still vehemently opposing Dad's suggestion that Mom should be allowed to come visit. On Saturday, Dad called me and let me know that she was very confused and less responsive. On Sunday, when she was no longer able to talk, Dad overruled A and let Mom know what was happening. She came and saw A on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday, I came back home and went straight to the nursing home. A was restless, her eyes wandering around the room but not focusing on anything. I ran home to pick up the kitty and get some flowers. I came back, put the kitty on her lap and was putting the flowers in a vase. Dad was by A, and she was agitated. He put his arm around her, she snuggled into his shoulder, her breathing slowed and then stopped.
I called a family member to break the news to Mom. A wanted a direct cremation , so the hospice set that in motion. Mom's friend called to see if mom could visit but they had already loaded A up and were heading out the door by the time the call came.
There was a lot of vitriol sprayed in my direction by text and on Facebook, because Mom's friend group felt I should have told Mom anyway, despite A's wishes and her vehement refusal to see and talk to Mom. They also felt that I had "stolen" A and set myself up as her mother, even though they were the ones who had shunned A after she and Mom had gone their separate ways (A had even gotten a 'no contact' order for Mom). It hurt me deeply, raw as I was from A's loss, especially as I had been wrestling with myself for months and trying to talk A into letting me inform Mom.
There was a memorial service 2 weeks later. Dad had overruled A's wishes, and allowed Mom and her friend group to attend the service. Towards the end, when everyone was eating and socializing, one of Mom's friends snatched the urn with the ashes and headed for her car. Fortunately someone saw her, and we were able to head her off in the parking lot and retrieve the ashes. Once again I was told, this time in person, what a monster I was and that hopefully I would have to live through the pain I had put Mom through. For some reason, nobody seemed to be upset with the other mutual friends who had also not told Mom.
A year passed, and the hate had died down. I had had a few relatively cordial interactions with members of the group, and I had given Mom the gown A died in, as well as allowing her to read the text exchanges between A and myself, so she could feel connected to her daughter again. I provided her with the photos I had of A for the time they had been apart, and I commissioned a mutual artist friend to paint a portrait of A for her for Christmas.
Then it came time to plan the wake.
A had been explicit in her instructions that Mom and her friends not be allowed to attend the wake, either, and in light of the incident with the ashes Dad, B and I were not inclined to overrule her. So, I created an event so that her many friends who had not been able to come to her memorial service would have time to plan to attend the wake (2 months away). I also made a gofundme to hopefully throw her the party she would have wanted (she was engaged, and died before we had a chance to throw her the best wedding ever).
In the interest of full disclosure, I posted that Mom and her friend group would not be allowed to attend this wake. I didn't want to get funding under the assumption that this would be a joint Mom/Dad event, since I knew her group would not want to contribute, and I didn't want to get Mom excited about an event she would not be able to attend.
Cue vitriol, round 2. I"m a heartless bitch, I have stabbed Mom in the heart, I am evil, horrible and the most heartless person ever. I have shown my true colors, and the reason A didn't want to see Mom is because she was sick, blind, nearly deaf and brain damaged, and had been brainwashed by Dad (no rationale for B's not wanting to see Mom was given). It still hurts but not quite as much.
Obviously, this is all written from my point of view. Mom's and her friends' is obviously very different, and I have tried to put myself in their place. I still don't see what ethically I could have done different. Tell Mom "Your daughter is dying but she still doesn't want anything to do with you"? Much less painful, I'm sure.
So, my question is, AITA? What should I have done? What should I do now? I've been beating myself up over this for a year.