Working With Individuals Whose loss was Anticipated

At CARE Counseling we work with individuals who are experiencing grief and loss following an anticipated death.

In anticipatory grief, an individual experiences grief before a person dies. This grief is not just about the imminent death, but of the many losses already occurring as an illness progresses. A terminal illness is often a prolonged illness and may lead to mental and physical exhaustion for the care giver.

What Are Symptoms

Anticipatory grief will likely have many of the same symptoms that we have identified with grief, sadness, anger, isolation but in addition individuals will often be experiencing exhaustion and anxiety in the anticipation of death and in caring for their loved one. The anticipation, hypervigilence, and suffering can lead to a sense of relief when our loved one has died which may lead to guilt which comes  from a feeling of relief.

  • Fear: There are a lot of changes that happen has you lose a loved one and feeling fear about these changes is common.
  • Loneliness:  Often caregivers feel a sense of isolation and loneliness as they live with the active dying of their loved one.  Where grief after loss is understood, anticipatory grief may not be socially acceptable.
  • Guilt: The intense feeling of wanting to relieve a loved one’s suffering means death for the loved one and may lead to guilt for their care taker. It is that paradox of the fear of actual death and the desire to end the suffering.
  • Rehearsal of the Death: Death become inevitable as illness progresses. Overtime this may lead to visualizing what life might be like without the loved one or even visualizing the death. This rehearsal is normal but difficult to talk about with others. o
  • Fears of Loss, Compassion, and Concern for Children: Children especially worry about what will happen to them if they lose their parent. Helping them process and give voice to their fears is important.

If you or someone you care about needs professional help or support to process your feelings of loss and gain understanding around your experience of grief, reach out to the clinicians at CARE Counseling to support you in your steps toward healing.

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