When Grief Occurs Before a Loved One’s Passing

Intro: The month of October is Mental Health Awareness Month. Dealing with end-of-life and palliative care can affect the mental health of those caring for the ill as well as those who are ill themselves. HospiceWits understands these challenges and extends assistance to family and friends who are supporting those in our care.

It’s not something that is often discussed. Grief. We have all experienced it at some point in our lives and grief can take many forms. It could also affect each person differently. What is not mentioned a great deal, however, is the phenomenon of anticipatory grief.

Grief is something we expect to feel after someone dies. Simply put, anticipatory grief is grieving for a loved one before they have actually passed away. It may also occur in those who are terminally ill and are aware that their death is approaching.

Anticipatory grief is different because it may evoke a stronger emotional response. Anger and sadness may be amplified, and some people feel guilt as they feel that all hope of recovery for their loved one is lost. A study on Swedish women revealed that 40% of them felt a stronger sense of loss, stress and grief prior to their husbands’ passing.

This grief response is normal, and it’s a process like any other form of grief. If you are struggling with anticipatory grief and it is having a powerful negative effect on your life, it’s important to seek the help of your doctor or counsellor. Talking through your feelings can be helpful, and provide you with a chance to deal with certain emotions both prior and after death.

At HospiceWits we offer counselling and support to those going through end-of-life care as well as their loved ones. You don’t need to go through grief alone. Turn to someone and talk about what you’re going through. We are here to help.

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