Following the death of a loved one, a friend or an associate, we tend to suffer grief in varying degrees and for varying periods of time.
Grief that precedes an anticipated death can have many of the elements of grief that occurs after a death, including depression. Added to this grief is the uncertainty of a future without the presence of the person whose passing is awaited.
An article posted on the National Cancer Institute’s cancer information database states that anticipatory grief may not always occur. The article also points out that grief before a death does not shorten the time of grief following the passing.
Anticipatory grief, the article suggests, can give the family more time to get used to the reality of the loss. Facing this stark reality can lead family members to complete unfinished business with the dying person, such as saying goodbye and expressing love that may have not always been readily shared. Try to make your loved one’s remaining time meaningful.
For caregivers, the emotions of anticipatory grief may be combined with the stress and exhaustion that come from attending to the dying patient. Share your feelings with other family members and your support group, including your hospice team members.
Remember that while you are experiencing anticipatory grief, the dying person is also faced with a multitude of feelings as she or he becomes aware that life will soon be ending. Just as family members experience anticipatory grief in various ways and to different degrees, so, too, do those who are facing death. Your hospice chaplain or your family’s religious leader can provide counsel.
For answers to your specific questions regarding grief before and after the passing of a loved one, call Hope Hospice in metro St. Louis at 314-984-9800.