Wednesday Workshop – How to Recognize Signs of Anticipatory Grief
Hello and welcome to our Wednesday Workshop. When confronted with the reality of a loved one’s declining health, it is normal to feel shocked and devastated. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may set off a range of complex emotional reactions in both the individual and his or her family, including fear, depression and loneliness. Learning how to identify and cope with these symptoms can help us make the most of the time we have left with our loved ones.
Defining Anticipatory Grief
Anticipatory grief is the name given to the tumultuous set of feelings and reactions that occur in some people who are expecting death in a loved one. These emotions can be just as intense as the conventional sort of grief felt after a death.
Anticipatory Grief Signs and Symptoms
While we may feel anticipatory grief while our loved one is still alive and well, it bears many of the same symptoms as conventional grief. Grief is often defined as progressing through stages, such as anger, sadness, denial, anxiety, depression and acceptance. However, there is no single experience of grief. You might experience many recognizable symptoms, or just a few:
- Anxiety and depression
- Desire to talk
- Emotional numbness
- Poor concentration/forgetfulness
Anticipatory grief also has some characteristic signs and symptoms that are distinct from normal grief. These signs include an increasing concern for the person dying, imagining or visualizing what the person’s death will be like, and getting ready for what life will be like after a loved one is gone. You may feel the need to try to attend to unfinished business with the ill person. There is a high risk of depression with this type of grief as well.
Tips and Resources on Coping with Anticipatory Grief
While anticipatory grief is normal, there may come a time that it interferes with your day-to-day well-being. Don’t be afraid to let yourself feel the pain of grief. Acknowledge your feelings of fear and loss, and remind yourself that they are normal in this situation. It does not mean you are giving up or that you love the person any less. If you are having trouble coping with your feelings, there are a wide range of strategies and resources available to help you get through anticipatory grief:
- Express your pain.
- Take care of your physical and emotional health.
- Spend time together now.
- Consult books designed for caregivers.
- Practice love, forgiveness, and letting go.
If you are having difficulty coping despite your efforts, don’t hesitate to contact a grief counselor or other mental health professional for support. Anticipatory grief can be painful, but nobody has to suffer it alone.
To learn more or to speak with us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center
Feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199 or email us below. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!