In almost all the cases that I’ve done caregiving, and it’s been a fair number of them by this time, there has been an incredible amount of joy. There has been an ability to recognize when a life is done: that sometimes when you are only seeing somebody once a week and you’re not as involved in their life and you’re not dealing with all the little crises that happen from day to day, somebody’s death can come as a real surprise, and really knock you back. Whereas when you’re a caregiver, you see the slow breakdowns of the body reaching its final time, and it makes the death of the person you’re caregiving much more a natural process, rather than being a complete shock.
And after the death, the feeling that you were there for them, you did the best you could do. There’s always going to be regrets in there; you always think “Oh geez, I should have done that,” or “Gee I wish I had noticed that earlier,” or there’s always stuff. But, I think if you hold onto the joy of what you were able to share with that person through their life and through their death is, I think, a huge bonus in your life.