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grieving woman

Anticipatory Grief

When we think of grieving, we primarily think of grief following a loss. However, this is not the only form of grief. Anticipatory grief refers to the feeling of grief that occurs before an impending loss. This can go beyond the loss of the person. It can also be difficult to think about how the roles in your family will change or how different the future will look.

Compared to Grief After Death

While anticipatory grief is very similar to grief after death, there can also be a lot of differences in the experience. In grief after death, you are facing a loss that has already occurred and must figure out how you are going to move forward in your new reality. In anticipatory grief, you know you will have to face this loss at some point in the future, but you can’t know for sure when it will occur. You are in a sort of in-between state where your loved one is still here, but you know your time with them may be limited. This feeling can be more severe for some because you are trying to wrap your head around the idea of life without this person while they are still here.

Hospice

Although they may not think about the term for it, families with a loved one on hospice services are all too familiar with anticipatory grief. When you have a loved one on hospice services, you understand that they have a life expectancy of six months or less if the disease were to run its normal course. This means you are very much aware of the impending loss you are facing, which can oftentimes lead to anticipatory grief.

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Bereavement Services

Most people have likely heard about bereavement services that are offered through hospice. What you may not know is that you don’t have to wait until after the death of a loved one to start taking advantage of these beneficial services.

Bereavement services can start at any time throughout the hospice journey, including before death. The feelings of anticipatory grief can be confusing, but our compassionate team of bereavement coordinators can help you sort through these feelings.

It’s never easy to face the loss of someone you love. Although we cannot take away the pain you are feeling, we will do all we can to support you through your grief. If you or someone you love would like someone to talk to, please contact us. We will connect you with a highly trained, caring bereavement coordinator who will walk with you through your grief.  

Resources

How Anticipatory Grief Differs From Grief After Death – https://www.verywellhealth.com/understanding-anticipatory-grief-and-symptoms-2248855

Person’s meditating hands in a grassy field

Importance of Self-Care In Grief

We all grieve differently, but one thing remains true for everyone: the importance of taking care of yourself. Whether you’ve found yourself in a state of just going through the motions or you’ve put all your focus on taking care of your loved ones, it can be easy to put your own needs on the back burner when facing the loss of a loved one.

However, it’s absolutely imperative that you take time to focus on yourself, too. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are discussing the importance of self-care throughout the grieving process.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month dates all the way back to 1949 when the National Association for Mental Health (now known as Mental Health America) first organized the observance in the month of May to help raise awareness and lessen the stigma attached to mental illness.

For a long time, society looked at mental illness as being just one thing. There was always a negative stigma attached to the term, and people often thought of those living with a mental illness as having ‘gone mad’. However, that is simply not true. Over time, we’ve learned more about the many layers and types of mental illness.

Mental illness is the term used to describe mental health conditions that impact a person’s mood, thinking, and behavior. Common mental illnesses include:

How Grief Impacts Mental Health

Losing a loved one can be a traumatic experience. You may feel as though you lost a part of yourself and that your life will never be the same. While there is some truth to this, it’s important to remember that you are still here and must go on living your life.

“We don’t move on from grief. We move forward with it.

Feelings of sadness, anger, loneliness, and hopelessness are all common throughout the grieving process. However, these feelings can sometimes develop into chronic grief which can in turn become a mental illness. In some cases, grief can lead to depression.

Symptoms of chronic grief can include:

How Self-Care Improves Mental Health

Self-care used to be thought of as bubble baths and pampering yourself, but there is much more to self-care. Just like the grieving process, self-care can look different for everyone. But the overall concept is to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

To take care of yourself physically is pretty simple: eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and practice healthy hygiene habits. However, taking care of yourself mentally is a little less cut and dry. This is where it really differs from person to person. To take care of yourself mentally and emotionally, you need to take time to do the things that make you feel good and happy. Hobbies are a good place to start when focusing on taking care of yourself mentally. Maybe you enjoy sitting outside and reading a good book, maybe you are an artist, maybe you enjoy taking long walks with your dog. Whatever it is that leaves you feeling happy and fulfilled, do it!

Research shows the more you practice self-care, the more confident, creative, and productive you are. This also leads to experiencing more joy, making better decisions, building stronger relationships, and communicating more effectively. Overall, you will be in a better frame of mind, making you a better version of yourself. This is not only good for you, but it’s also good for those who depend on you.

When you take time to take care of your whole self (physically, mentally, and emotionally), it will help you to process your feelings of grief in a healthier way.

How Hospice Can Help You in Your Grief Journey

Always remember that you do not have to face the journey of grief alone. Lean on friends and family to help you through. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings. Sometimes we feel the need to be strong for those around us. If this is the case and you would feel more comfortable talking to someone outside the family, lean on the support of your hospice bereavement team. Our kind, compassionate bereavement coordinators are always available to talk or just listen. Never hesitate to reach out.

If you or someone you love is struggling with their feelings of grief and would like to talk to one of our bereavement coordinators, please contact us at 920-922-0134.

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