Author Topic: Anticipatory Grief  (Read 10830 times)

Terry

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Anticipatory Grief
« on: April 30, 2012, 05:02:40 PM »
Anticipitory Grief falls under the category of complicated grief as it begins months and in some cases, years before the actual death. As described in the article below by Dr. Beth Erickson, I felt as if I, too was in an extended state of emergency as there were periods of time when I was overwhelmed with sadness. After all, doesn't every date, special memory etc. that we anticipate arriving cause a certain amount of stress, sadness as clearly every memory leading up to them becomes so vivid and the reality sets in, again that they are gone from our lives?

I could relate to this article as a whole as I experienced as much during my Father's illness, although I did not agree with the explanation regarding being 'prepared' for their death although I do understand that when we are aware that someone is nearing death, that we have the opportunity to share certain thoughts and feelings that we may not ordinarily have when sudden death occurs, so I accepted that and appreciated the article. But, there wasn't a time when my daughter was sick or my husband or my Father where I can say that I was prepared for them to be gone from my life forever. I never play-acted or entertained the thought of how life would be when they were dead.

Some of us are in the process of attempting a reconciliation with one or both of their parents, siblings and other relatives so I thought this article appropriate and hope others can relate and maybe find some understanding that will benefit their decision or maybe even shed some light on it. There may never be a decision made as this is a very personal choice, to make amends before we or someone close to us leaves this earth. We may just believe that it is not in our best interest.

Contrary to what we have been taught is yet another thought, that what's best for us is not always good for us. It may be very healing emotionally to forgive and to move forward even with the few resources we may have left and at the same time we have to consider the person's reaction to our deliberate (though well intentioned) actions. If we anticipate them and resign to accept them, good or bad then it's not an issue. But, if the reactions are going to cripple us, setting us back we have to ask ourselves if it will be worth it. A very personal choice.

If anyone has been a caregiver for their loved one who was dying, I would like to know how you felt during the time you cared for them and if you can relate to this article written by Dr. Beth Erickson. Also if you are in the process of a reconciliation with a family member where the relationship has been strained but you continue to hold out hope that possibly some aspects of this relationship could be mended by such a reconciliation, please share.

Thanks for reading.

Hugs,
Terry
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WHAT IS ANTICIPATORY GRIEF?
 
By Beth Erickson, Ph.D.

Anticipatory grief is what happens when you know there will be a loss, but it has not yet occurred. This is what happens when a loved one is dying, and both the patient and their loved ones have time to prepare. Anticipatory grief is both the easiest and the hardest kind of grief to experience. It is marked by “stop and go” signals. With these losses, the handwriting is on the wall... but it doesn’t make coping with it easier.

Because you have time to prepare, you can begin to envision and rehearse your life without the person who is dying. This gift of time offers the opportunity to resolve any regrets you may have with or about your loved one. You can take this time to make amends with your loved one, and to tell him or her how you feel about them. Your loved one can do the same with you, and other family members. You can let go of anger or guilt. You also have the chance for delicate conversations about such sensitive topics as death, end of life wishes, and after-death preparation. You also have an opportunity to get information about your family.

One obvious drawback to anticipatory grief is witnessing your loved one’s struggle with death. As the loved one’s condition worsens, you may grieve with each downturn. You may experience feeling a sense of helplessness as your loved one fights for life. You may feel as if you are living with a pit in your stomach that won’t go away as you await death’s arrival.  In addition, sometimes when people are facing death, their own fear, pain, or anger may make their personality seem to change from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde overnight or even from one moment to the next.

In my own case, when cancer ravaged my mother’s brain, she became psychotic and for a time didn’t know me. This was devastating to me. Thank goodness, her behavior did not last until the end of her life, and she regained her normal personality. But for some families, the ones we love continue to have behavioral changes as they face the end of life. This can be challenging, and healthcare professionals such as hospice workers or counselors may be able to help.
Perhaps the most difficult challenge with anticipatory grief is that it is difficult to tolerate living in a state of emergency for an extended period of time. The mind can only tolerate so much angst.  When a loved one is dying, the “emergency” and angst period may seem to last forever. You do not want your loved one’s death to come more quickly, yet your mind may not be able to handle any prolongation. Your mind may blank out self-protectively.

But eventually, a reminder or a new episode with the loved one sets off the grief again.  Here, intense grief comes in waves alternating with times of numbness. These “stop and go” signals allow you to shut down emotionally. This insulates you before the next event occurs. Then, your grief begins anew. These flat periods can be looked at as natural, normal, and welcome respite from the agony of the loss. They do not mean you are cold or uncaring.

Anticipatory grief is normal. It is an important part of coping with a loved one’s extended illness. It prepares both you and your loved one for the end of life. Unfortunately, it may also be an emotional roller coaster. If you can expect that and understand that, you can help yourself cope with it. Don’t feel guilty about anything you may be feeling. Instead, make the best out of each moment you can spend with your loved one, and focus on the positives, such as forgiveness, settling affairs, and helping your loved one make plans for their passing.

Sally1950

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Re: Anticipatory Grief
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2014, 10:21:44 AM »
I'm anticipating my mother-in-law's death. last month she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and given 3 months to live. she was a better mother to me than my own and I'm very upset. she lives with us and is a big part of my life so there will be a big hole when she is gone. I am having the numbness and grief periods described in the article. my 35 yo daughter died 7 years ago from a rare cancer also that wasn't found until too late.  my husband is very ill (not with cancer) and is 72 so I am having anticipatory grief thinking he  will go soon and I will be alone.

Terry

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Re: Anticipatory Grief
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2014, 02:31:19 PM »

I'm so sorry, Sally and do understand your feelings. Embrace the numbness; I wish I had experienced its effects for a longer period. It's a defense mechanism. Soon enough we all have to deal with the harsh pain that the reality of death brings.

I'm glad to see that you're able to be so open regarding how you feel, especially during such a difficult time in your life. It says a lot about who you are.

Thanks for sharing.

With Love & Understanding, :love9:
Terry

Cindyc

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Re: Anticipatory Grief
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2014, 08:16:34 AM »
This was a good topic s

     Re: Introductions
« Reply #34 on: Today at 08:06:10 AM »   

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I don't know were to begin. I will start out telling you that I lost my youngest daughter of Twins 3 yrs old and oldest daughter 7 at the time of her death. She was only 27 passed away of a massive heart attck. It was so hard on us when we re'cvd the phone call. Her one yr Ann. was 2-9-2014 . But before the one yr I lost my mom Dec 28th 2013 from infection that took her life in 3 days. I was with her all 3 days to the end. Then my Dad was sick at the same time we got thru mom's services and My Dad went into the hosptial he was there after he got rid of his sickness they put him in Rehab to build his strength he had a broken heart of mom's passing, he passed away Jan 29th 2014. So right now I'm Num and need some asst. on what Book would be good to read , mind you I dont like to read alot so I dont want a thik book. But I need to find the right Train track to get on and start dealing with all of this. I do talk to someone every week that helps some need something else also thanks for your support
  I read this topic some of it help me to understand a  little more also

mousewife

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Re: Anticipatory Grief
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2014, 10:06:16 AM »
Terry,

I didn't agree with all aspects of the article.  My husband and I did have some opportunities to talk about some things, and we had the chance to say goodbye, but I was so busy taking care of him I felt that most of my time was consumed with that.  I never had time to think of, or rehearse what my life would be like without him.  I just wondered how I could ever live without him.

I did agree with the constant feeling of a pit of fear in my stomach and hyper-vigilance.

After he died, I thought of many things I could have done to create opportunities for us to review our lives together, such as videos, pictures and cards.  But, I was just too busy taking care of him and trying to find enough strength to keep going, to even think of those things while we were going through it.  My main concern was to help him be as comfortable as possible and to help him have the easiest death possible.

We had almost a year after life-limiting diagnosis, with most of that time being used by efforts to keep him alive.  The last five weeks were spent at home with hospice care. I just don't think my experience with anticipatory grief was much like what was presented in the article.

mousewife

Terry

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Re: Anticipatory Grief
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2014, 05:06:04 PM »

I could relate to this article as a whole as I experienced as much during my Father's illness, although I did not agree with the explanation regarding being 'prepared' for their death although I do understand that when we are aware that someone is nearing death, that we have the opportunity to share certain thoughts and feelings that we may not ordinarily have when sudden death occurs, so I accepted that and appreciated the article. But, there wasn't a time when my daughter was sick or my husband or my Father where I can say that I was prepared for them to be gone from my life forever. I never play-acted or entertained the thought of how life would be when they were dead.


((((( mousewife ))))) I enjoyed Dr. Erickson's read but I did not perceive the pretending or play acting to be true in my case, either. Like you, I was too busy caring for my loved ones and the very last thought in my head was pretending, in any way that I could prepare for their deaths. For me, that just wasn't possible.
I did make a collage of family pictures and would bring it close to Dad in bed and he would point to some of them and smile. His smile was so heart warming.

With my daughter, she would have liked to see her Momma more prepared. She was such an old soul for 4 years old. Even her last night on earth when I asked to lay down with her in bed, she suggested her big brother stay with her. I believe in my heart that she didn't want to die in my arms and that she was thinking of me. She did die in my son's arms. It's hard, even now after all of these years to write this down.

Thanks for sharing your feelings on the article and the time with your precious husband.

Love,
Terry

mousewife

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Re: Anticipatory Grief
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 12:10:10 PM »
Terry,

Thanks for sharing what was difficult for you.  I think you may be right about your daughter trying to spare you.  Something kind of like that happened when my mother died.  I had been with her all the time.  She seemed in a comatose state, but, before I left the room to call a friend to ask for prayer,  I quietly told my mother that she had been the best mama anyone could ever have and that I didn't want to lose her, but that I'd always known I would have to.  I told her I loved her too much to see her suffer any more, so the next time she felt God call her, she should let go and be with Him.  I told her I would see her again and it would only seem like a day to her.  Then I told her I was going to another room to make a phone call and that when I got back I would giver her meds and breathing treatment to her.  When I came back into the room I was talking to her and I didn't notice that the labored breathing was not present.  When I looked at her I knew immediately that she was gone.  I just said, "Oh, Mama, you've already gone".  You see, the prayer I had been asking for was that God would make my mother's death as easy and quick as possible, and help me get through it.

mousewife

Sally1950

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Re: Anticipatory Grief
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2014, 01:17:09 PM »
my anticipation is over. I had the second worst week of my life. she was going downhill very gradually, the hospice nurses said maybe in a month or so, but then all of a sudden she couldn't walk, then couldn't stand, then couldn't swallow even water, then couldn't talk and on the fifth day she passed in her sleep. she suffered. she had pain. she couldn't talk, only moan. I held her hand and her head. now there is a huge void in my life. I don't know how everyone else can act like everything is normal when my life is empty

Doug1222

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Re: Anticipatory Grief
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2014, 11:54:30 AM »
I don't know how everyone else can act like everything is normal when my life is empty

Sorry you're going through this, Sally.

Everyone else's life IS normal. We go through this period when we think the entire world should be grieving...and they shouldn't. I went through it, too. We seem to think something's wrong with people for not grieving with us. They shouldn't. Everybody gets their turn.

Don't hold it against people.

Hang in there.
 :love9: