I was talking with a friend this morning who is further along on this journey with the monster who dances in the dark corners of our brains (dementia). Eventually the topic of feelings of worthlessness came up. Mainly how it became more difficult to push those feelings away as you lost more and more of your abilities. You start to feel as though you can do nothing well (or at all), that you are in everyone's way, and, ultimately, worthless. I thought about this for awhile, mainly from my own diminishing point of view. Soon I was thinking back over my parent's journeys through dementia. They each came to feelings of worthlessness. But to me, that was never true. I valued every day I was privileged to spend with them. Was it easy, no. Did I get aggravated and not really understand what they were going through, yes. Did I ever for one minute believe they had no value, absolutely not. They continued to give something that couldn't be measured or quantified. They gave me a parent's comfort. Even in the darkest days I could feel the warmth of their care.
This is something I will never feel again. I still have the comfort of my wife's and children's love and I treasure each, but it is different from a parent's care. Just as a spouse's love is different from a child's love and comfort. Each is precious but neither can be replaced with the other when gone.
Although my parent's last years and months were horrible and I was actually relieved for them when they passed (although I had a great feeling of guilt over the feelings of relief) I never thought their worth diminished. I was able to be with each right up til they drew their last breath, holding their hands, giving and receiving comfort, leaving nothing behind.
I guess what I'm trying to say in this long, rambling post is fight to maintain your feelings of worth as long as there is a ational thought in your brain. Even if you are in a non responsive state, you mean a great deal to those around you. And that can never be replaced.