What Is Anticipatory Grief And How Do I Recognize It?
Caring for someone else is a unique and frequently emotional experience. When faced with the painful reality that a loved one has an incurable, terminal disease, it can be difficult to ignore and “push through” sentiments of grief.
In fact, anticipating the loss of a loved one can be just as painful as grieving after they pass away. Even though it isn’t as well-known as conventional grief, this is perfectly acceptable. Conventional grieving’s stages are well-known, and they’re frequently treated more seriously than anticipatory grief. Denial, bargaining, sadness, anger, and acceptance are some of them, and they can all happen in a cyclical pattern.
What Are the Different Stages of Anticipatory Grief?
The stages of anticipatory grieving are represented by a bell curve and include the following:
- Shock at the prospect of a death, especially when the prognosis for a loved one’s illness is unknown.
- As a natural defense mechanism to cope with overwhelming emotions, we deny the reality of the loss.
- Acceptance of the impending loss and imagination of what life would be like without the loved one
Is Grief and Depression the Same Thing?
Clinically, no, but sorrow and depression are quite similar in many ways. The fear and sadness of being alone and changing your routine after a loved one’s expected death is certainly a depressing reality to face. In what is known as preliminary grief, even the dying person often feels anxiety and solitude.
Although anticipatory or preparatory grief is painful, it allows individuals who experience it to spend more quality time with their loved one and choose a meaningful way to say goodbye, which is something that those who lose a loved one abruptly do not have. In that regard, having the opportunity to finish off unfinished business is a true blessing.
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How to Cope When a Loved One Is About to Depart
While it’s natural to grieve, try not to let it affect your general health. Self-care is important, so take care of your mental and physical well-being. Allowing yourself to feel the agony of grieving is one of several coping strategy available to you. Recognize your dread and predicted loss rather than denying or dismissing your unpleasant emotions.
Joining a caregiver support group, reading books or watching lectures about sorrow (such as those on Grief.com), and finding an outlet for your feelings are all good ways to start. Even abstract forms of expression, such as art therapy or meditation, can be used to express yourself. Others turn to prayer or journaling for comfort.
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Above all, make the most of the time you have left by spending quality time with your loved one. You may make this time more meaningful by doing things like looking at old photos, reminiscing about happy memories, and asking questions that spark profound dialogues that you can reflect on later. This will allow you to say your goodbyes in a way that will help you cope with, but not necessarily move on from, your grief.
Because grief is cyclical, you may and will make progress when your loved one passes away and adjust to the new normal over time. Even if you don’t think you’ll be able to cope with an upcoming loss, you will be able to find new meaning in life, and knowing you’re not alone in your sentiments may give relief.
Contact Care At HeartPlease do not hesitate to contact us if you require additional assistance from in-home caregiving professionals. The licensed caregivers at Care At Heart are glad to assist and can offer advice on how to deal with anticipatory grief. Contact us today, either online or by phone.
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