When there is a loss of someone dear to you, grief is a natural aspect of your recovery process. It can take the form of normal grief, which most people experience after death and during a funeral service. At times, grief can also be delayed or develop into complicated grief under varying circumstances.
However, it’s important to be aware that grief can also arise even before a loss occurs. This type of grief is called anticipatory grief, an emotion common amongst people caring for their loved ones suffering from terminal illnesses or similar conditions. If you find yourself in this circumstance, utilise the following tips to learn more about anticipatory grief and how to best cope with it.
What is anticipatory grief
Sickness is a part of life, and despite the numerous advancements in modern healthcare, there remain illnesses that are too challenging to conquer just yet. When these disorders befall on those near and dear to us, anticipatory grief can develop. It is a type of grief that results in seeing loved ones slip away day by day, knowing that there is little to prevent the inevitable.
Coping with anticipatory grief
As a loved one’s disease progresses, it’s natural to feel frustrated and saddened by seeing their condition decline. However, no matter how overwhelming it can get, it’s important to remind yourself that your loved one is still here and it might be best to prioritise their needs at the moment. While doing so, it’s also helpful to take the following steps of coping with your anticipatory grief.
Ways to manage anticipatory grief
- Educate yourself on what to expect
Educating yourself about your loved one’s condition can help you prepare for what’s to come. It would be good to understand the developing symptoms of their disease, the side effects of their medication and treatments, and their doctor’s prognosis. Knowing this information and the gradual changes to your loved one’s health can help you feel more in control of the situation.
- Talk to another who is experiencing anticipatory grief
When experiencing such a heavy emotion as anticipatory grief, it’s helpful to know that you are not the only one going through this difficult experience. Seek out a support group whose members are in similar situations and share your experiences and feelings with them.
Talking to someone in similar circumstances can help you gain more insight or perhaps even let your true struggles be heard. At the end of the day, being honest with your feelings can significantly help you manage the reality of your loved one’s condition.
- Enlist help and continue with your daily activities
Putting your life on hold to shoulder all the responsibilities of caring for your loved one alone might not be best for you, and probably not what the person you are caring for would want. Instead, reach out to others dear to you and enlist their help to care for them. In this way, you’ll have time to meet with friends or have a hobby, regaining the much-needed energy to provide your loved one with the best care possible.
- Create moments they can enjoy
Lastly, despite your loved one’s circumstances, it does not mean they can no longer enjoy doing activities they like or share them with you. Find ways to bring their hobbies to them and do what you can to make each day memorable. Such moments would be the ones you look back on and cherish the most.
If not managed well, anticipatory grief can prove to be just as, or even more, challenging to cope with than normal grief. Thus, as you are tending to your loved one’s needs, it’s good to spend quality time with them while also caring for your personal emotions. Unfortunately, if their condition takes a turn for the worst, consider seeking their wishes and preferences for a proper farewell.