To talk about anticipatory grief, I must mention love first. Love is a set of emotions and behaviors characterized by intimacy, passion, and commitment. It is unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another. Anticipatory grief is grief that occurs before death and is common when you are facing the death of a loved one. Without love, anticipatory grief cannot exist.

Anticipatory grief is unique in that is difficult to find a balance between holding onto hope and letting go. A Swedish study of women who had lost a husband noted 40% of the women found the pre-loss stage to be more stressful than the post-loss stage. The emotions of anticipatory grief are like grieving after death but can be more challenging. Often you must cope with your personal feelings of sadness, fear, loneliness, irritability, anger, and the feelings of a dying loved one.

The time prior to a loved one’s death often are marked by feelings of guilt if they are in pain. You fear the death of your loved one even though you long for your oved one to be pain free. You may also experience survivors’ guilt because you live on. Anticipatory grief is a normal process in grief, but it can slam you with intense emotions. Sometimes these intense emotions can lead to depression. You may choose to work with a grief counselor to help you through the quagmire of emotions.

There are positive things about anticipatory grief. It provides opportunity for personal growth at the end of life and a way to find meaning and closure. For many, it is a time to reconcile differences and to grant forgiveness for both the self and other. It is a chance to say goodbye. Saying goodbye is invaluable in closing the grief cycle and is a magnificent gift. Even though anticipatory grief does not make grieving easy, it can make death more natural. Letting your loved one go is hard, seeing them suffer is even harder.

Remember the good times with your loved one and let go of the bad. Grief passes like with the bringing of the sun, moon and stars and you want to make your life count for your loved one.

Love and light,

Sharron Magyar