It's a stunning episode, full of wonderful and very real moments. But one of the best is the reaction of Anya - thus far too often used as a foil for humour (being an ex-demon she struggles to comprehend human emotions and is brutally honest in her opinions). Throughout the follow-up action to the finding of Joyce, Anya has been asking lots of questions and finally Willow snaps at her.
ANYA: (desperate) But I don't understand!
Willow and Xander look at her in surprise.
ANYA: (crying) I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's, (sniffling) there's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore. It's stupid. It's mortal and stupid. (still teary) And, and Xander's crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.
What the scene highlights is that sometimes it takes an outsider to truly see, to ask the difficult questions in order to understand the world around us. Of course, though Joyce's life seemed horribly and unnecessarily cut short, we all get the same allowance...
"You lived what anybody gets, Bernie. You got a lifetime. No more. No less."
Bernie Capax and Death, in SANDMAN #43: "Brief Lives:3" By Neil Gaiman