By Cheryline Lawson
Anticipating grief is never an easy thing. The thought
that our loved one is going to die is not a consoling
fact. Anticipatory grief is period during which a
patient or family member expects to die. Anticipatory
grief is quite similar to the after effects of losing a
loved one. The emotions are no less different than when
one experiences a tragic and sudden death of a loved
one. It is the same loss and it hurts just as bad. It
comes with some of the same feelings of guilt, shock and
denial and is associated with cultural, and social
reactions to the loss.
Anticipatory grief creates tremendous concern for the
person who is dying, fearful preparation of the
departure of their loved one, and making the adjustments
to life without the loved one. The only difference
between anticipating grief and dealing with a tragic
loss is that it gives the family some to time to make
plans and to spend more time with the person as well
accepting the reality of their loss.
There is time to forgive where any unforgiveness exist.
There is time to talk about things that were kept in
secret. There is time to carry out the wishes of the one
who will die and time to make any amends to the
Some people may not experience anticipatory grief
because of denial. The grief will take place after
losing their loved one. It is the same grieving process
and doesn't make it any better to endure. The grief
experienced before a death does not shorten the grief
after death. Each individual grieves differently and the
time it will take depends on many different factors.
Grief that occurs when someone dies tragically or
suddenly can be more overwhelming than anticipatory
grief because of the trauma and shock, which comes with
it. There is no time to spend with the loved one and no
warning signs. This puts the person in a corner to
confront the unexpected, which can lessen the coping
abilities of that person and make normalcy seem distant.
The impact of their loss may not be realized right away
and acceptance is hard to imagine. The life of that
person may not make sense and the emotional
repercussions will develop into insurmountable problems
if not dealt with right away.
There are some people who may believe that anticipatory
grief is unusual. However, it can happen to anyone one
of us and being prepared for it is not realistic.
Acceptance to the possibility of the death of your loved
one will leave you feeling that you are abandoning that
person. There is no way to explain the emptiness and
fear of the future. An expectation of the loss may only
create an attachment to the dying person even stronger,
which does not make it any easier to accept the
inevitable. The dying person also experiences grief and
this makes it harder for everyone involved.
No matter how our loved one dies, the process of grief
seems to be very similar in nature in all cases. It all
depends on each individual and how much they deal with
grief in their lives.