Most of us think of grief as something that happens after someone dies. What we did not know is suffering can begin long before someone dies. However, it is often not acknowledged, discussed, or even understood. Do you know what anticipatory grief is?
Anticipatory grief is grief that occurs before a person dies. It is common for children to have feelings for their parents or family members of those who are suffering with terminal illnesses.
What is the Difference Between Anticipatory Grief and Other Types of Grief?
Grieving before someone dies may feel no different than grieving after they die, but it does present some unique challenges.
To begin with, not everyone will suffer from anticipatory grief. For some, not acknowledging what is happening may be an effective coping strategy, and grieving may be perceived as giving up hope.
Those living knowing that a loved one is dying may experience conflict. On the one hand, they hope that the person will not die, but on the other hand, they struggle with the idea of losing their beloved if they do die.
They may fluctuate between these two extremes. This is a delicate and difficult situation to manage. (Source: Marie Curie)
How Does Anticipatory Grief Affect People?
We rarely know when someone will die because it is difficult to predict. Everyone’s final weeks and days are as distinctive as they are. When anticipatory grief lasts for a long time, it can be emotionally and physically draining. It drains your energy to get through the day.
Fear, anxiety, and panic can all enter your life. You may live your life on high alert. “What do you think will happen next?” This can have an impact on your well-being and stability. You may notice that your emotions and thoughts are all over the place, and you may become easily distracted and unable to concentrate.
Time is also a factor because, while sudden deaths are undoubtedly shocking and challenging to accept, a slow decline towards death can erode our well-being minute by minute, day by day. This can have a significant impact on caregivers and loved ones. A horrible sense of dread may grow stronger with each passing day.
You may find yourself putting your own life on hold and feeling fed up on occasion, which is entirely natural, even if you believe you can’t say it out loud for fear of being judged by others. (Source: Marie Curie)
What Actions Can You Take to Help Yourself?
Recognize your feelings for yourself and others. Try not to hide your emotions, and remember that others may feel the same way you are, but no one is talking about it.
Find ways to spend your limited time with your loved ones that are meaningful to you. It’s time to start having those conversations you’ve been avoiding. What do you want to say to your loved one? Consider what you might regret not saying while you have had the chance.
Find ways to spend your limited time with your loved ones that are meaningful to you. It’s time to start having those conversations you’ve been avoiding. What do you want to say to your loved one? Consider what you might regret not saying while you have had the chance. (Source: Marie Curie)
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