Anticipatory Grief November 15, 2021

Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory grief is the grief you deal with when you know someone’s death is around the corner. Terminal illness and old age and deteriorating health can cause the anticipation of knowing your loved one is going to die. You start the process of grieving even though they haven’t died yet. 


Anticipatory grief is an emotional roller coaster

When you are happy because they aren’t dead but you are sad because they are dying.  You feel guilty because you know they won’t be around much longer and you don’t spend as much time as you should. They are fading away and are not the same person but you still don’t want to waste any time because they will be gone forever before you know it.

You try to prepare your mind for when they are gone but it is too painful to think of, but it is just as painful to visit with them because they are different and in some ways it feels that they are already gone. 



When you experience anticipatory grief so much of your mind is clouded in fear. Never knowing if when you wake up each morning this will be the day they die. Fear of letting go but knowing it is inevitable. Worrying that you will never again have someone who can know you and love you the way that they do. Grasping hold, afraid of losing that oh so important connection you have. The unknown future without your loved one by your side can produce so much fear.


Feeling guilty is one of those feelings that sneaks into our minds. At times it is hard to tell if guilt is a bad thing or a good thing. We may feel guilty because we know our loved one only has a short time to live but we still don’t take advantage of spending time with them.


It is emotionally hard for you and you feel guilty about that because you may think it sounds selfish after all you are the one dying. . When someone is sick or has experienced major trauma it can change pieces of their personality to the point that we feel we don’t know them anymore.


It can be so easy to feel guilt about our own feelings when dealing with anticipatory grief


Anticipating the loss of a loved one can be overwhelming. Like I mentioned earlier it’s like you wake up each day not knowing if today will be “the day”. Every situation is different but there are some certain similarities. If your loved one has a rough day and has to go to emergency care you immediately start to wonder, is this it? Your mind starts to prepare for them to pass, but then they make a slight recovery and get sent home. There is a lot of emotional roller coaster riding going on. 


The best thing you can do is to keep thinking of how much this person means to you. Tell them what they meant to you. Even if you aren’t sure they can comprehend it, in the state they are in. “Give them their flowers” now, shower them with care and help to give them the peace of mind that they are loved and will forever be cherished even when they are gone.


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