When a loved one enters into end of life care, it’s natural for family members to experience a reaction known as anticipatory grief. This refers to feeling grief before an impending loss. The emotions associated with anticipatory grief can be hard to understand and manage, but it’s important to remember that this is a natural and common reaction to an approaching loss of a loved one. When going through anticipatory grief here are a few helpful things to keep in mind.
Acknowledge Your Grief- A very common tendency when experiencing anticipatory grief is trying to suppress the grief because you’re loved one is still alive. It’s important to let yourself start the grieving process and not feel like you need to hide your grief. Try to find ways to express your grief in healthy ways like journaling or art.
Reach Out- Odds are you’re not the only one in your family or group of friends who is having anticipatory grief. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk about what you’re going through with other friends or family. If you’re not ready to talk with people you know yet, find an online forum or a grief counselor to talk with.
It’s Not Giving Up- Just because you accept your grief and are dealing with it doesn’t mean you’re giving up on your loved one. You can still be there to support them, love them, and care for them. Don’t feel like you’re losing all hope of recovery or accepting the inevitable. It’s okay to experience grief and still be hopeful at the same time.
Cherish the Remaining Time- Do your best to enjoy the time you have left with your loved one. When you’re with them, don’t focus on the grief just make the most of the time. Think about how they would want to spend time with you and try to make it happen.
Take Care of Yourself- Greif, even anticipatory grief, can take a huge toll on you. Make sure you’re still sticking to your regular diet and exercise schedule. Avoid the temptation to stay cooped up at home all day. Even in small doses, human interaction and fresh air will go a long way.
The biggest thing to remember is that anticipatory grief is normal, so don’t feel like you need to hide from it. If you feel like the grief is getting to be too much to handle, find an experienced grief counselor to help you work through it.