Nothing can ever prepare you for the death of a loved one. And even after your loved one passes away, there will continue to be emotions and thoughts associated with that death. Even before the death of a loved one, there may be some feelings of discomfort and anxiety. Anticipatory Grief is preparing for a loved one’s end of life. It is the mourning process that occurs when a loved one is still living but you are expecting their death. Feelings of anticipatory grief are normal feelings and it does not mean that the feelings of grief after the loss will be any less. Some signs of anticipatory grief include feelings of sadness, loneliness, anxiety, guilt, fear and poor concentration.
Each patient and family has their own unique story; they each have their own way of dealing with these feelings and emotions. As the social worker for the hospice team, I make sure that I build a strong and trusting relationship with our patients and their loved ones to be able to then sit with them and help guide them through the grieving process. I walk with them through this journey that they are experiencing and provide necessary resources to help support them.
Not everyone grieves the same way. Some people may grieve right away and be in acceptance of the death shortly after while other will grieve months or years after the passing of their loved one. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote about five stages of grief that everyone may or may not experience after the death of a loved one.
Denial: this is the first stage of grief and it allows us to survive the loss; everything becomes meaningless and hopeless. Denial and shock help us to move through the loss.
Anger: this is a necessary step in the grieving process; be willing to feel your anger; the more anger you feel, the more this process is allowing you to heal.
Bargaining: after a loss, bargaining can sometimes take the form of a temporary truce; the “if onlys” cause us to find fault in ourselves and make us think of what we could have done differently
Depression: after bargaining, grief enters our lives on a deeper level; to have feelings of depression is normal after the loss of a loved one. The loss of a loved one is a very sad and depressing situation.
Acceptance: the feeling of acceptance does not mean that everything is “OK.” This is the feeling that you have come to the realization that your loved one is physically gone and that it is time to move forward with your current life situation.
Regardless of what stage of grief you feel that you are experiencing or if you are confused about what or how you are feeling, our hospice team of professionals are here to support you. And if you need referrals for outside assistance or counseling, we will be more than happy to provide that information for you and/or your loved ones. Our hospice bereavement counselor continues to keep in touch with your family for at least 13 months after the passing of your loved one. Throughout this part life’s journey, we continue to be here for any support, questions or concerns you may have. If you need additional support or need to speak with one of our professionals, you can reach us at 847.803.0400 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.