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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.
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.
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.
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.
How Anticipatory Grief Differs From Grief After Death – https://www.verywellhealth.com/understanding-anticipatory-grief-and-symptoms-2248855
By Jacquelyn Buffo, MS, LPC, CAADC
Losing a loved one to a terminal illness is one of the most painful experiences you can go through. The loss of a spouse or partner is traumatic for many people, and the grief journey can feel overwhelming, confusing, and painful. However, each person grieves and works through the grieving process at their own pace and in their own way. If you are grieving the loss of a partner or spouse, you are not alone. The month of April is Bereaved Spouses Awareness Month, observed since 2008. Bereaved Spouses Awareness Month provides support and resources for bereaved spouses.
The difficulty of losing a spouse is followed by a grieving process that can be challenging for many people. Grief is a process and includes many different types of symptoms, some more severe than others. Feelings such as shock, sadness, numbness, and even guilt can occur after losing a spouse. Your experiences of grief may be different than others, and it is dependent upon factors specific to you. Grief can present as intense emotions and can also present in behaviors.
For example, bereaved spouses may experience:
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and support and help are available to you. An available resource along your journey of bereavement is hospice care. Hospice can help spouses prepare for the impending loss of a loved one. The hospice’s bereavement team can also help spouses after a patient passes. The mission of hospice care is to deliver compassionate, quality care to individuals with terminal illnesses and support the families through the caregiving phase and bereavement process.
Many spouses spend a significant amount of time and energy caring for and tending to their ill partners. But unfortunately, they may overlook their own needs and feelings during this time. Utilizing the hospice team as a source of support can help spouses tend to their emotions and needs when it is difficult.
If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one, it is vital to get the help and support you need. First, talk to a trusted family member or friend about what you’re going through. Loved ones can be strong sources of validation, support, and compassion. You can also talk to your doctor if you notice a change in behavior and mood or if you are having difficulty performing the normal activities of daily living, such as showering regularly and eating. Your doctor may be able to provide you with medication and can also provide you with referrals to a grief counselor or support group near you.