Understanding and Coping with Anticipatory Grief
The powerful feelings of grief are traditionally associated with the time after a loved one has died. Anticipatory grief is arguably less well-known and, as a result, many people experiencing it fail to seek the grief support they need from a mental health counselor or funeral home. Anticipatory grief can encompass any of the usual emotions of grief, but it occurs before a loved one has died. It is commonly experienced after a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. In some cases, it can last for years.
Accept Your Limitations
Because grief is widely understood to develop after a loss, you might feel as though you’re losing self-control when you experience feelings of grief prior to the loss. Some people report feeling as though they’re going slightly insane. You might feel utterly exhausted, unable to think clearly, and excessively forgetful. You might verbally lash out at others for no good reason or you might feel so overwhelmed that you are tempted to lock yourself in a dark room and cry. These are all normal reactions. In truth, there is no “abnormal” reaction to an anticipated loss. To cope with anticipatory grief, it is essential to acknowledge that you’re going through challenging times. Accept your limitations, scale down your daily responsibilities whenever possible, and give yourself permission to truly feel your emotions.
When a loved one is dying, it’s only natural to want to spend more time with him or her. But during your time away from your ailing loved one, try to distract yourself from reality. Dwelling on the anticipated loss and considering what life might be like without your loved one will not likely calm your mind. Give yourself some time each day to enjoy any activity that distracts you. Read an engrossing book, do yoga poses while listening to meditation music, watch a movie, or play a musical instrument. Distracting yourself before going to bed is always a good idea, since anticipatory grief can easily lead to insomnia.
Greenwood Memorial Park & Mortuary is a funeral home in San Diego that is pleased to offer grief support services to area families. To discuss a loved one’s funeral arrangements, call (619) 701-6473. Our funeral directors can also help you with funeral pre-planning.