With anticipatory grief, you are grieving and are also dealing with the stress of knowing that a loss is coming. If you’re facing anticipatory grief, you might find yourself feeling a range of emotions, like sadness, anxiety, fear, guilt, and anger. You might also have physical symptoms, like trouble sleeping or changes in your appetite.
Coping with Anticipatory Grief
While there is no right or wrong way to cope with anticipatory grief, there are some things you can do to help make it more manageable. Here are a few tips:
Talk About Your Feelings
Don’t bottle up your emotions. Find someone you trust—a friend, family member, therapist, or clergy member—and talk about what you’re going through. This can be a huge relief and help you feel more supported.
There will be times when you will feel like there is no point in opening up since you still haven’t lost your loved one. But the earlier you talk about it and the earlier you get a solid support system, the easier it will be to cope when the time comes.
Be Mindful of Your Physical Health
When dealing with any type of grief, it’s essential to take care of your physical health. This means eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep. When your body is healthy, it can help reduce some physical symptoms of grief, like fatigue and headaches.
Being mindful of your physical health can also help to reduce the risk of developing complications. You can avoid further depression or anxiety by staying physically healthy.
Consider Caregiving Options for Your Loved One
If you are the primary caregiver, it makes sense that you seek the support of the pros to make life easier both for you and your terminally ill loved one. Hospice care, for instance, is a type of care that is focused on providing comfort during the final stages of life. This service can help to ease some burdens you’re feeling and provide your loved one with the best possible care during their final months or years.
Prepare for the Worst
One of the hardest things about anticipatory grief is not knowing what will happen. Will your loved one suffer? How long will they live? Will they be in pain?
While it’s impossible to know the answers to these questions, it can be helpful to mentally and emotionally prepare for the worst. This doesn’t mean that you should give up hope—it just means that you’re being realistic about the situation.
By preparing for the worst, you’ll be better equipped to handle anything that comes your way. And if the situation turns out to be better than expected, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Lean on Your Faith
If you have religious or spiritual beliefs, lean on them during this difficult time. Pray, meditate, or do whatever helps you to feel closer to a higher power. This can provide some comfort and peace of mind.
It’s also important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Some people find solace in their faith, while others don’t. Don’t force yourself to believe something that doesn’t resonate with you.
What to Avoid
It is easy to make mistakes now that you learned about the inevitable truth. But if you wish to make things easier for you and your loved one, there are a few things you can avoid doing.
Not Giving Yourself Enough Time
One of the most important things to remember when coping with anticipatory grief is to give yourself time. This is not a race, and there is no finish line. The grieving process will take as long as it needs to.
Don’t try to push your emotions down or ignore them. It’s okay to take a break from work or other obligations to focus on your grief. And if you need to, take some time off to visit your loved one.
Comparing Your Grief
It’s also important to avoid comparing your grief to others. Just because someone else seems to be doing better than you, it doesn’t mean that they are. Grief is unique, and everyone deals with it in their own way.
What works for someone else might not work for you, and that’s okay. Don’t put pressure on yourself to grieve in a certain way.
Pretending Everything Is Fine
Finally, don’t pretend that everything is fine when it’s not. It’s okay to be honest about how you’re feeling. Your friends and family members are there to support you, so lean on them when you need to.
Not everyone experiences anticipatory grief. Know that you are never alone in such challenging times. Educating yourself with these tips and gaining the support of your other loved ones and experts can help you in coping with your grief better.