Some family caregivers and the loved ones that they care for deal with something called anticipatory grief. Understanding this form of grief can help you to work through it much more readily.
Your Emotions Are Preparing You
Even if you’re not consciously thinking about what is to come for your loved one, your emotions are helping to prepare you. Some of the emotions you’re likely to experience as a part of anticipatory grief can include:
You may experience others as well and sometimes you’ll cycle through each emotion more than once or twice. While it seems that these emotions are simply getting in your way, they’re giving you a chance to process the reality of the situation now.
The Loss Is Real, Even in Advance
It’s called anticipatory grief because your loved one hasn’t passed away yet. But there may be other forms of loss that you and your loved one are dealing with now. If she’s losing her mobility or she’s lost more than a little independence, these all invite a form of grief. As your loved one’s condition worsens, you’re experiencing additional small losses along the way. They all add up and they’re all real.
What You Can Do
Being proactive can help you and your loved one to deal with anticipatory grief proactively. As her caregiver, you might want to spend some time at support group meetings or talking with friends who understand what you’re dealing with on a daily basis. Both of you might benefit from hiring end-of-life care providers to ease you into the next stages of your loved one’s care.
Taking the Time to Say Goodbye
Above all, give yourself time to feel as if you’ve gotten the chance to say goodbye to your loved one. The beauty of experiencing anticipatory grief is that it can be a reminder to you that time is short and that you have to seize each moment. Let your loved one know that you love her and spend as much time as you can simply being with each other.
Use anticipatory grief as a tool to help you and your elderly loved one deal with what is still to come.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering end of life care in Philadelphia, PA, please contact the caring staff at Serenity Hospice today. Call (215) 867-5405.