Dealing with anticipatory grief and understanding loss

Stay in the moment

Even as you work through your anticipatory grief, don’t let your thinking about the future loss impede your joy for today. This is especially important if it involves caring for or spending time with a loved one who’s dying or has a terminal diagnosis. You don’t want to miss the important sharing and deep connection that this tender time in their lives can bring.

Find the helpers

If you are a caregiver for someone with significant special needs or complex medical issues, it’s important to also take care of yourself. Prioritising what you need may feel difficult at this time. Yet it’s important to enlist others to support you, provide respite, pragmatic support such as cooking and cleaning, and companionship to bring distraction from the difficult task of caregiving.

Avoid catastrophising

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and while there may be things that are scary as you look ahead, practise reframing to reduce anxiety, put the impending loss in perspective, and provide space for you to plan your next steps.

Practise gratitude

Very often, impending changes that bring on anticipatory grief can also come with commensurate blessings. By focusing on what you have and shifting away from the focus on what you are losing, you may find a more positive outlook, stay in the moment much more easily and reduce catastrophising thought patterns.

Know when to ask for help

Depression is one of the potential emotional reactions to grief, including anticipatory grief. If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping, cannot get out of bed, are unable to work, or have severe anxiety or depression, it may be time to seek professional help.

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