A common belief is that grief arrives after the event that inspires it. But in some situations, like when you are caring for a family member that you know is near the end of her life, you’re more likely to experience grief before she actually passes away. This type of grief can be a little more difficult to manage, simply because you’re still helping her in the ways that you can.
It’s Called Anticipatory Grief
The type of grief that caregivers and family members experience before someone passes away is called anticipatory grief. Your mind is already thinking about what that experience is going to be like and despite knowing that you’re not in that situation yet, you’re still experiencing the feelings. Anticipatory grief isn’t something that you can predict, just like other forms of grief. It operates on its own timetable.
The Future Might Be Uncertain
Adding the uncertainty of anticipatory grief to the uncertainty of your senior’s health situation makes everything feel that much more complex. Your elderly family member’s current situation can change quite a bit, even over a short amount of time. It can help to have as much information as possible from your senior’s doctors so that you can make the best plans possible.
There’s a Lot That Goes Along with Anticipatory Grief
The various other emotions and experiences that accompany anticipatory grief can be surprising if you haven’t experienced them before. There might be anger, sadness, or anxiety about what your senior has ahead of her. You might also feel those same feelings about your own losses, such as losing time you thought you would spend on your career or with other people. It’s a lot to process and you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed between dealing with those feelings and caring for your senior.
You and Other Family Members Need a Way to Cope
You’re not the only one dealing with this type of grief. Other family members are also hurting before your senior actually passes away. Working with end of life elder care providers gives you hands-on assistance with her care, but it also opens up avenues of assistance for the entire family. Bereavement counseling gives you and anyone else in the family the tools you need to deal with your grief in a healthy way.
Predicting grief isn’t easy to do. You never know when it will arrive, either before or after you actually experience a loss. What does matter is that you have the assistance that you need in order to work through those feelings.