It is natural to feel a variety of emotions when someone we know is facing a serious illness... shock, sadness, anger. As those caring for a terminally ill loved one watch them decline and imagine life without them, it is natural to experience anticipatory grief, deeply feeling the loss of their loved one before they are gone.
Anticipatory grief can be experienced by anyone expecting a major loss, but it is particularly common among Alzheimer's caregivers as they lose the person they knew long before death takes them.
It is important to understand that anticipatory grief is normal and there are ways to cope:
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Learn to recognize the symptoms of anticipatory grief. You may cry more, be short-tempered, become forgetful or grapple with anxiety and depression. Just as you would take it easy with a physical illness, it is important to be gentle with yourself when coping with anticipatory grief. Speak with a bereavement counselor for additional support.
Learn the symptoms of your loved one's disease and the typical side effects. Understand the symptoms and signs that life is drawing to a close. Knowing what to expect can help you to feel more in control of what the future may hold.
Make the Most of the Time You Have
Find ways to add meaningful moments to the time you have remaining with your loved one. Record their stories for a Life Journal. Create special holiday plans around them like a family photo or choosing a special ornament together.
Anticipatory grief doesn't mean you are giving up on your loved one. If you find yourself struggling, reach out for help. Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care provides bereavement support in all the communities we service. Please call us at 1-888-564-3405 to speak with a bereavement coordinator today.
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