Editor's note: November was National Caregiver Month.
When my wife died, those around me seemed sadder than me. I knew why, but I worried that I appeared to be ... almost happy.
The reaction of a long-term caregiver at the death of the person they love can be very different from that of those around them. For me, conflicting emotions collided when my wife, Maggie, took her last breath: deep sadness that the only woman I ever loved was gone, but also great relief that this ordeal was finally over -- over for her and over for me.
That last comment may sound selfish, and there were moments when I felt guilty about that relief, but it was an honest emotion I couldn't deny.
No one knows, other than the long-term caregiver, how it feels to have the person you love leave you bit by bit -- physically, mentally and emotionally. It's a loss you grieve slowly, daily, and for the entire time the person you love is struggling.
For many of my family and friends, Maggie died she day she stopped breathing; for me she died a little every day -- and a little of me died whenever I lost a part of her.
So yes, there was relief and yes, I was happy for both of us.
Dennis F. Depcik