Anticipatory grief (or pre-grief) describes the intense feelings of loss that come before you lose someone. Anticipatory grief is different from traditional grief because it focuses on the emotions you have before something actually happens.
What is anticipatory grief?
Grief is a natural response to loss, whether that loss is the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship or even something like losing your job. While it can be painful and uncomfortable at times, grief is also potentially very healing.
Anticipatory grief happens when you are still grieving before the actual loss has occurred. For example, when you know one of your parents has cancer and will die soon. You may be experiencing anticipatory grief if you:
- Know someone who is dying.
- Have been through many losses in your life.
- Are facing some kind of major change in your life that may lead to loss.
Dealing with anticipatory grief?
In short, you should:
- Take time to grieve.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.
- Don’t try to avoid the pain.
- Don’t feel guilty about grieving.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about your grief because it’s a natural part of life and something we should all expect at some point in our lives, whether it’s anticipating death or losing someone close through divorce or moving on after a breakup with a romantic partner or even just moving away from home.
Now let’s dive in the specifics of how you can handle pre-grief.
Anticipatory grief for caregivers
As a caregiver, you are more likely to experience anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is the grieving process you go through before the death of someone close to you. It can be confusing and overwhelming because it feels like your loved one has already died.
Anticipatory grief is normal and natural, but caregivers often don’t know how best to cope with their feelings during this time. Here are some tips for dealing with anticipatory grief as a caregiver:
- Take care of yourself! You need to devote time and energy toward your own needs so that your body will be able to take care of others later on when they need it most.
- Be aware of your own needs first. Taking care of others can make us neglect ourselves in many ways. For example, we forget to eat healthy meals or get enough sleep. Or maybe we ignore aches and pains or put off seeing our doctor until later. Perhaps we even push past our personal boundaries into unhealthy territory.
- Make sure that you don’t ignore these important things! Take time out just for yourself each day so that no matter what else happens, at least something gets done right!
Anticipatory grief for men
It’s important to note that men are less likely to seek out help for anticipatory grief. They’re more likely than women to use alcohol or drugs to cope with their emotional pain.
A man who is dealing with anticipatory grief may also withdraw from his friends and family, which can make him feel isolated and more depressed. The loss of a loved one is an especially difficult thing for men. That’s so because they typically aren’t expected to show any emotions other than happiness or anger (though this isn’t true for all cultures). In general, it’s easy for people who experience anticipatory grief to become depressed or anxious about the upcoming loss. And these feelings can be even worse if you don’t have anyone around you who understands what you’re going through!
Anticipatory grief for women
Women are more likely to experience anticipatory grief. After all, women often tend to be more empathetic and have a greater capacity for empathy than men. This sometimes may lead women to feel sadness before an event has even happened. If you suspect a woman close to you experiences pre-grief, make sure to check up with her.
Talking to kids about pre-grief
If you are about to lose a loved one, the last thing you want to do is hurt your child. That’s why it’s important to explain what is happening in terms they can understand. Let them know that even though you are sad and may cry sometimes. After all, they should never worry about hurting your feelings by asking questions or expressing their own emotions. By acknowledging their need for understanding and acceptance, they will feel more secure in knowing that they have someone who loves them unconditionally during this difficult time.
It can also help to let children know that although death is inevitable and painful without warning, life goes on after someone dies (as hard as it may be). It’s important to be sensitive but honest. This way there are no false hopes about whether or not their loved one will survive. After all, what happens when those hopes aren’t realized?
Coping with anticipatory grief
Here are some things to consider if you’re experiencing pre-grief yourself:
- Give yourself time and space to grieve.
- Stay positive as much as possible, even if it feels like you can’t do anything right now. This is a difficult time for you and those around you, but it is important to keep the focus on what’s happening now rather than getting stuck in negative thoughts about the future or past events that cannot be changed.
- Talk about your feelings with someone who understands what’s going on with you—friends, family members, or a grief counselor are all good options if needed! You may feel comfortable talking about all aspects of this situation (e.g., “I’m so scared that my husband won’t make it through surgery tomorrow”), but others might prefer just hearing how they can help (e.g., “I’ve been looking after our dog alone since my wife went into labor yesterday—do you think she could come over when she gets off work?”). It’s up to each person on how much they want others involved in their process; everyone copes differently so again try not to judge yourself harshly if one approach doesn’t work well for now!
- Give yourself time and space to grieve.
- Don’t be afraid of your grief. It is ok to give yourself time, space and support to help cope with the loss.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others when you need it most; they will understand how hard this is on you, even if they don’t fully understand how they can help themselves.
- Try your best to know your loved one’s final wishes for topics such as funeral arrangements and property distribution.
- Make sure you have a meaningful way to say goodbye and help them do the same. We’ve designed Myend’s Memory Lane and Last Goodbye services with these goals in mind.
Anticipatory grief is a normal and healthy reaction to the loss of a loved one. If you are feeling that your loved one is dying, it’s important to talk with them about their feelings and concerns so they know you’re there for them.
Anticipatory grief is very often linked to terminal illness – when you know for sure your loved one will pass away. Although you can’t control this situation, you can make sure they will share their wishes and feelings before they pass away. And Myend is the perfect end-of-life platform for this. You can sign up for an account for free and see for yourself or help your loved one’s with their accounts.