Suppose you’re someone with a loved one who has a terminal illness and experiencing a transition from this realm to the next. In that case, a particular type of grief happens during the waiting period before a person passes away. Anticipatory grief is a beast all it’s own and can double up with post-death grief to throw us onto a tumultuous emotional roller coaster if not processed correctly. Anticipatory grief can be pretty challenging to understand for many people who have not had to deal with it, but you don’t have to suffer through this alone, and you can empty various techniques to make this unique grieving process more a more healing experience.
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What Is Anticipatory Grief?
The grief you feel after someone has passed away is conventional grief, but some people begin experiencing grief during the time a dying person experiences their last days to even years due to a terminal illness, for example, and this is anticipatory grief. BetterHelp can also help you gain some insight into how humans grieve in different ways throughout their lives.
What’s particularly painful is that this type of grief is possible for both the person whose loved one is dying and the person who has to contend that their life is ending. It can be accompanied by mixed feelings like sadness that someone you love will be gone soon and relief that their suffering will end. This can also cause guilt, which is another added weight on your shoulders.
Here are some ways you can better cope with anticipatory grief:
Give Yourself Permission To Grieve
Allowing yourself to grieve doesn’t mean you’ve given up on your loved ones or are making them a memory before they’re even gone. When you don’t give yourself permission to grieve, you extend the amount of time you process this profound pain. And while the pain from the death of a loved one never truly goes away, if you choose to process it in the moment, you can go back to living your life with a semblance of normalcy like you deserve.
Spend Time with Your Loved One Before They Pass
For some folks, it may be tempting to run away from your loved one while they’re dying, and understandably so, seeing someone you care about be in pain can sometimes be too much to handle. However, despite this, it may make you feel better in the long run to know that you spent as much time with them as possible before they’re gone, that you said everything you wanted to say.
Forgive Yourself And Others
Forgiving doesn’t mean you need to forget, and it’s much more for your peace of mind than it is for anyone else’s redemption. However, if your disagreement is with another family member, ask yourself if the anger and resentment are truly worth compromising your relationship. When you forgive, you release all the pent-up negativity you had bubbling up inside, and you make more room in your heart for loving and accepting your family members, especially during such a stormy moment in your lives.
Keep Your Sense Of Humor
It might not feel right to laugh your way through the grieving process, but even in the darkest times, humor can be the thing that pulls you out from the shadows. If you can bring humor to your loved one’s bedside, that would create both an opportunity for you to spend time with them and also create unforgettable memories before they’re gone. Watch comedic television shows or movies together, or look through funny internet memes. Whatever you do, don’t stop laughing, and your heart will thank you for it.
Revisit Your Spiritual Side
The fear of death can often be alleviated by spirituality and can do you a world of good to feel like this goodbye is not the last. No matter what you believe in, engaging in prayer, meditation, or listening to music that connects you to a higher power, spirituality can help you be even more resilient before and after the time to say farewell. Consider revisiting your spiritual practice to make you feel safe as you embark on this journey.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.
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