What is anticipatory grief? For most people, they might not experience this sort of grief. However, there might be some of you who may have gone through this feeling of grief that you might not have the words to describe it. For all you know, you could have been going through what is termed as anticipatory grief. It is a kind of grief that occurs when you know that you are about to lose someone very dear and precious to your heart. It is grief that happens before death, hence its unusual and strange experience. Conventionally, people recognise the type of pain and grief that comes after the death of a loved one. Yet, anticipatory grief is not something that is widely known or familiar to people. As a result, such a topic of grief is not brought up or discussed often. This will eventually lead to people being unable to cope with this niche form of grief and lack the necessary support systems.
With this article, we hope that people will be educated on what anticipatory grief entails and what it can look like or manifest as. This article will be directed more at people who are facing the situation of a loved one’s imminent death.
Because grief does not occur in isolation, it is important to recognise the various phases and experiences of grief. Secondary loss, as a result of anticipatory grief, can slowly and gradually incur a toll on the person’s health. Fear of financial circumstances, changes in family roles or dynamics, and the like can induce stress. Furthermore, grief that comes before death is often related to more anger and less emotional stability. These atypical responses of grief might stem from the person being situated in a place of limbo, a place of feeling “in between” that people end up falling into. That mixed up place of clinging onto hope but also letting go and accepting the inevitable can cause the griever’s psyche to feel confused and emotionally out of control. They do not know how to feel and what to think. They might even feel more grief before the actual loss.
One typical symptom of anticipatory grief is the rehearsal of death. People might find themselves imagining the imminent death of the loved one, bracing themselves for the actual date. This may trigger survivor guilt, which is the guilt of living on while someone passes away. However, it is valid and normal to have such thoughts as a form of reconciling the inevitability of death.
As anticipatory grief does not neatly align with conventional models of grief, it is crucial for grievers to find someone to express their pain and emotions freely without judgment. Remember that letting go does not mean that you no longer love that person.
At Embrace Funeral Services, we help families to prepare for funeral services in Singapore. By taking that burden off their shoulders, members can properly process their grief. Our services also include bereavement support, as well as, offering financial support to families in need.