Anticipatory grief is one of the many types of grief a person can experience. Although the exact feelings of anticipatory grief will vary between individuals, the symptoms are often similar to other forms of grief and present both physically and psychologically. Understanding what anticipatory grief is and how to recognise it within yourself or others can help you seek help before you are overwhelmed.
In this post, we will help you understand anticipatory grief, the signs that you or a loved one may be experiencing this suffering and how to cope with this type of grief.
Understanding Anticipatory Grief
If you are expecting to lose someone close to you or another significant life change, you may experience feelings of grief before the event. Your body and mind can start to suffer from the symptoms of grief when you are preparing for a life-altering event. There are many causes of anticipatory grief, and not everyone experiencing the same loss or change will respond the same.
Common reasons for experiencing anticipatory grief include:
● Recognising someone is reaching old age, showing signs of a serious illness or chronic disease or receiving end-of-life care
● Preparing for the loss of a pet
Your loved one or yourself receive a terminal diagnosis, such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease
● You are anticipating a relationship breakdown
● Job loss or bankruptcy
● Loss of limb
● A family member has plans to move abroad or out of the same residents as you (for example, a child is moving to university or into their first home)
● Experiencing a significant injury or sickness, such as cancer or major surgery, which could mean you are unable to live your life as usual until recovery
Noticing the Signs of Anticipatory Grief
Learning about the possible symptoms of grief can help you recognise this within yourself or others. Therefore, allowing you to seek help from close friends and family or reach out for professional support before the event occurs.
Common anticipatory symptoms of grief include:
● Anxiety, depression and other mental health problems
● Not being able to think about anything other than the expected loss
● Lack of energy and motivation
● Changes in appetite
● Changes in sleep
● Withdrawing from social activities and ignoring others’ messages and calls
● Unusually positive or happy
How to Cope With Anticipatory Grief
Although grief is often spoken about when someone has experienced a loss, anticipatory grief can be just as hard to deal with. As a memorial jewellery brand, we have spoken to many people during their grieving process. We have found that many people recommend treating yourself kindly, maintaining your relationships and finding out who can help if you are anticipating or preparing for a loss.
You may also find it useful to wear a piece of memory jewellery, such as a memorial necklace or paw print jewellery, fitting to the loss you are preparing for. Many people say that holding an item of jewellery helps them ground themselves during emotional unrest or can help them bring up the subject of their anticipatory loss with people they trust.