What is Anticipatory Grief?
Caregivers and patients alike may exhibit grief reactions to a death, even if that death has not yet occurred. These are normal reactions to loss and may help you prepare for the emotional intensity of grief after the death has occurred. This is called anticipatory grief.
Anticipatory grief takes many forms, most often fears about actual or possible losses. These may include fears of:
- Living life without your loved one
- Breakdown of family structure
- A new beginning — taking a road not traveled
- Losing your social life
- Losing companionship
- Losing independence
- Losing control
What are the symptoms?
There are many symptoms of anticipatory grief, some of which are listed below. How many of these have you experienced since you became a caregiver or seriously ill?
- Constant changes in emotions
- Emotional numbness
- Poor concentration
- Forgetfulness or poor memory
Making the Grief Journey Easier
When experiencing anticipatory grief, there are many ways to smooth the road you are traveling. Try some of these activities:
- Go for short walks whenever possible.
- Keep a journal.
- Plan for the future.
- Seek spiritual assistance, if needed.
- Talk to someone, such as a friend, family member, clergy, or Community Hospice psychosocial specialist or chaplain.
- Make changes only as needed, and put off major decisions when possible.
- Do the things you want to do now. Postpone chores that you can do later.
- Spend time with loved ones, friends and family.
- Seek help from your family, friends or a Community Hospice volunteer to arrange some time to spend doing things you enjoy.
- Call your doctor if the physical symptoms of grief become overwhelming.
- Join a caregiver support group to assist you with overwhelming emotional needs.