"When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." ~ Kahlil Gibran
Anticipatory grief is a feeling of loss before the death of a loved one or occurrence of any dreadful event, for that matter. It is particularly relevant to those who have received a terminal diagnosis and are about to die within a specific time span. When someone we love and care about is given a terminal illness, we become painfully aware of the fragility of life and start wondering how uncertain life is. It somehow changes the very structure of our existence, bears away our control and our desire to hope and plan for the future. Moreover, living in the expectation of death and counting down the days to the given time of demise with dawn of each day, can make us experience many of the symptoms and emotions of the grief one suffers due to the demise of a closed one.
Many will describe it as a normal process but the fact is, life is far from normal for those who are going through it. Shock, denial, anger, emotional stress, helplessness, sorrow, and depression are some common emotions experienced by a person going through anticipatory grief. A sense of surrealism and an inability to fit back into the pattern of life are a few common fears that the person develops, which makes him/her completely helpless and uncertain about what to do. But as it is said, one has to move on, no matter whatever happens, here are some care plans for all those who are unfortunately going through this tough condition.
Dealing with Anticipatory Grief
As it is said, "a sudden death hits you like an explosion, and sends you into shock, but a slow decline arrives more like a glacier, massive and unstoppable, grinding you down", hence, dealing with it gets difficult with each passing day.
Cry: Holding your tears back or putting on a brave face to look strong will surely be a great emotional support to your loved one, but will not possibly help you. The plethora of emotions that you are experiencing inside needs to come out, hence do not stop yourself from crying, as this will somehow give you an emotional release.
Share Your Feelings: From our childhood, we have been taught 'sharing is caring', so talk to your friends and share your emotions with them. This will make you feel light inside, and their support and love will help you to look at those tough situations with a strong and better perception.
Seek Counseling: In case, you feel shy, reluctant, or do not want to bother your friends with your personal problems, you can consult a counselor. Besides listening and comforting you, counseling will also provide some effective methods to deal with the grief before and even after the loss and will help you resume the same life you had prior to the diagnosis.
Develop New Interests: While experiencing anticipatory grief, one likes to spend time alone and moan for your loved one. The thought of doing certain new things never comes to the mind during such a condition. However, keeping yourself occupied by joining cooking classes, a book club or health club, or going for daily walks with a couple of friends will definitely help to overcome the pain and sorrow to some extent.
Write a Diary: When all these above given methods don't help, then the simplest of all is to pen down your emotions, fears, and uncertainties about life in a diary. You can write it down daily, in the form of poetry or short stories. This will help you know yourself better and how you have come through those crucial, traumatic times with strength and perseverance of not giving up.
Anticipatory grief is normal, and sometime or the other, everyone goes through it. The brighter side of it is that somehow it prepares both you and your loved one for the end of the life. Make the best out of each moment by spending quality as well as quantity time with your loved one by focusing on the positives, like, forgiveness, settling affairs, praying, meditation, etc.