Anticipatory grief begins long before death arrives. It often starts as soon as we become aware that death is impending. After learning of a friend or family member’s terminal illness, it is natural that you begin to grieve. It is normal for one to experience one or all of the five stages of grief we covered in our last article. These stages can be felt at all different points on the timeline before death as well as after death.
How to Cope with Anticipatory Grief
Accept that anticipatory grief is normal: This is a very common feeling and you are not alone. Don’t feel guilty for preparing yourself for the loss of someone close to you.
Connect with those around you: Seeking out support through groups or the comfort of your family members is an excellent way to grieve together. Having a solid support system can make it much easier to cope with the anticipated loss of a loved one.
Reflect and enjoy the time you have: Focusing on your loved one by supporting, caring and loving them while they are still here. This is an opportunity to work through grief in a positive manner. Ask them questions you’ve always wondered about. Tell them stories of how you remember them from when you were young. Spending meaningful time together allows you to make lasting memories with your loved one while they are still present.
Take care of yourself: Taking time for yourself allows you to be quiet with your thoughts and sift through your feelings of sadness, grief and cope. Remember, you need to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of others. Get plenty of sleep, nutrition and exercise, as those things often affect our ability to process and heal emotionally as well as physically.
Grieve at your own pace: Do not assume that because you knew that death was inevitable that you are expected to grieve quickly. Everyone grieves differently and that’s okay.
Be present: Remember that while your grief is real, you have not lost your loved one yet. The most important advice we can give you is to cherish the time you have left. Be fully present when you’re with them. Be honest. Be yourself. The time you have with them now is incredibly difficult but choose to treasure every moment you have with your loved one so that once they are gone, you can know that you spent your time well.
We hope that through this information, we are able to provide a small bit of comfort to you and your family. We know that every person has a story to tell and would be honored to work with you as you wade through the waters of grief and planning a funeral.
Previously in this series How to Prepare for Loss Part One | The Five Stages of Grief