What Is Anticipatory Grief and How Do You Cope with It?
Posted on July 21, 2023
Grief is an emotional response to loss, and anticipatory grief occurs when we are expecting a future loss. It’s the emotion that we experience in anticipation of the death of someone close to us or impending changes in our lives. Anticipatory grief can be particularly difficult because it has no end point—it may last for months or even years until the anticipated event takes place.
When it comes to coping with anticipatory grief, it’s important to acknowledge that there are no easy answers. Everyone copes differently and what works for one person might not work for another. At Islands Hospice, we understand how hard this type of grief can be and offer support to those who need it. Here are Bereavement Coordinator Ashley L.’s tips on how to cope with anticipatory grief:
1. Reach out for support – Verbalizing emotions, instead of holding them in, can increase your resilience. Make sure you have a supportive network to reach out to and don’t be afraid to talk to friends and family about your feelings.
2. Take care of yourself – Experiencing loss can make us feel powerless because there may not be anything we can do to change it. Taking care of yourself is one thing you have control over, so take the time to rest, eat well, and practice self-care.
3. Find ways to honor the person – Spend time with those close to them or express your grief in other ways such as writing letters or creating art.
4. Accept that anticipatory grief is natural – Recognize that it is okay to experience emotions related to anticipatory grief and allow yourself space for these feelings.
5. Educate yourself about what to expect – Learn about your loved one’s condition. Knowing the symptoms, side effects and the prognosis may help you feel in control.
It’s important to remember that grieving doesn’t have an endpoint—it can be a process that takes months or even years before we fully process our loss. If you are struggling with anticipatory grief, please contact Islands Hospice for support. We are here to provide comfort and compassion during this difficult time.