When you are facing an imminent loss of a loved one, you might experience some grief in anticipation of his or her passing. Anticipatory grief is real, and it can feel similar to the type of grief that you might experience after your loved one dies. Elder Care Direction can help elderly adults and their loved ones to prepare for the time when the older adults will pass away.
What is anticipatory grief?
Most people expect to experience grief following the passing of their loved ones. However, they may not expect to experience grief in anticipation of the passing of the people who are close to them. Anticipatory grief has similar symptoms as the type of grief that you experience after someone dies. However, the feelings may not be as intense as the grief that you might feel after a loss. Unfortunately, if you experience anticipatory grief, it will not make the grief that you experience after your loved one’s passing any less severe.
It is common for grieving people to feel anxiety and depression. Experiencing grief in anticipation of the death of your loved one might allow you to say goodbye and to spend more time with your loved one.
How does anticipatory grief work?
When you learn that the death of your loved one is imminent, you might experience anticipatory grief and experience similar symptoms as you might with regular grief. The family members of people who have cancer, Alzheimer’s, and terminal diseases commonly experience anticipatory grief. Feelings of denial, depression, and anger are common with anticipatory grief.
People can also experience anticipatory grief when they are anticipating other types of losses. You might experience it when you are going through a divorce, preparing for a loved one’s deployment, or preparing for another major change in your life.
How to cope with anticipatory grief
Anticipatory grief can make you feel isolated, afraid, angry, and sad. You might find yourself withdrawing from the person for whom you are experiencing grief. If you are experiencing anticipatory grief, you should make sure to care for your own needs. Here are some ways that you can cope with anticipatory grief.
Talk to others
Do not withdraw from others. Talk to someone about what you are feeling. Let yourself grieve, and acknowledge the feelings that you experience. Others who have also experienced this type of grief might be able to help you through the process.
Talk to a professional
If you feel overwhelmed, talk to a professional. Trying to serve as your loved one’s sole caregiver can place too much emotional and physical strain on you. Getting professional help can alleviate some of the burden.
Live your life
You should never place your life on hold. Go out and socialize, and continue to go to your job. When you continue living your life, you will be better able to keep your emotions in check so that you can be there for your loved one.
Find out what to expect
Talk to your loved one’s doctors about his or her condition. Make certain that you know what to expect. You will feel less overwhelmed when you know what is happening.
Allow your grief to prepare you for the inevitable
When you experience anticipatory grief, it can give you a new perspective. You may have an opportunity to tell your loved one the things that you need to say before he or she passes away. This can provide you with some closure that you might be grateful for later.
Understanding anticipatory grief
Experiencing anticipatory grief might be confusing for you. When you understand what is happening, it can help you through the passing of your loved one. Feeling grief in advance of your loved one’s death does not mean that you have given up on him or her. Change your focus to what you are able to do now to improve the situation.
You should realize that experiencing anticipatory grief is normal. Do not feel guilty about the way that you are feeling. Instead, focus on spending time with your loved one while you still can.
Finally, when your loved one does pass on, do not feel guilty if you feel relieved. It can be exhausting to take care of an ill loved one. Feeling relieved does not mean that you are a bad person. Instead, it can be a normal reaction.
Contact Elder Care Direction
If you are caring for a loved one who has a terminal disease or illness, you may feel overwhelmed. The staff members at Elder Care Direction can provide some guidance as you navigate through a difficult time. To learn more about how we might help, fill out our online contact form today.