Get help with Grief, Bereavement & Anticipatory Grief

What Is Anticipatory Grief?

Grief and mourning bring about very similar emotions of anxiety, dread or sadness; but unlike the grief and mourning that happens after someone has passed away,  “anticipatory grief” begins before the person has died.

When someone has a disease, injury, or condition that permanently changes their personality, the grief usually comes at it sinks in, that your loved one, as you knew them, will be “gone” even before they’re gone.

But along with those difficult feelings of loss, caregivers, who dedicate most of their time and energy to care for a loved one,  usually also struggle with a sense of loss and longing for their former independence and freedom. And to compound it all, these longings for free time can also bring about guilt.

Furthermore, when the condition of your loved one is either terminal or degenerative like Alzheimer’s, the fact that you can’t change the final outcome, can fill you with anger, bitterness and even resentment.

All of these feelings are normal in such situations, but that does not make them any less overwhelming.

Be Honest About Your Feelings

It is important to find someone you can trust to discuss these feelings openly and figure out positive ways to cope with these emotions. Sometimes, because other members of the family are also struggling with the same issue, they are not the best to rely on at this stressful time, as they also might be having overwhelming feelings and might be emotionally taxed.

Caregiver mourning and Anticipatory Grief

Primary caregivers — those whose take on the daily responsibility for someone’s well-being  — are not just burdened with the work for the caregiver but also with the emotions of anticipatory grief.  Caregivers feel a piece of this loss each day, more deeply and in a way that others in their lives probably don’t.

Grief is a constant companion for those caring for a dying loved one. The grief is complex because as we explained they are numerous different emotions triggered at once, and sometimes those emotions are contradictory themselves. Even after the death, the bereavement of caregivers is more complex and usually of greater intensity than those that had different relationships with the decedent. This is because caregiver grief and mourn losses that have already occurred as a result of the illness, and they also mourn anticipated losses that are yet to come, like death.  Lack of adequate support during this time of predeath grieving can have a negative and lasting effect on the overall long-term bereavement of the caregiver. It can turn a normal bereavement into a complicated one.

Support for grief and bereavement are best delivered by professionals that can screen for complicated bereavement and intervene early to prevent it.

As a Licensed Clinical social worker with over 20 yrs experience and as a Funeral Director for over 13 years as well I have specialized training and expertise in this area. Furthermore, I am also the daughter and granddaughter of patients with dementia, and once the primary caregiver for my mother while she suffered from dementia with Lewy bodies.

Struggling with grief or bereavement and need support and guidance?

Call or text me at (215) 253-0042 or send an email

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I also offer secure and confidential online therapy via doxy.me.