By Christi M. Lero, MSW, LCSW, Therapist, Hospice & Palliative Care Social Worker
When we typically think of grief, the general understanding that there has been a loss or a death. The standard course of events we think has happened is that someone got sick, they were old, then they died. Afterward, the survivors are left to grieve their loss. But, what we know now is that the grieving process actually starts much earlier than this.
What is Anticipatory Grief?
Anticipatory grief is the feeling of grief we experience before a loss or death occurs. Some event happens, a diagnosis or milestone, that forces us to face mortality. It might be our own, but it could be the mortality of a friend or loved one. That realization begins the cascade of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that is anticipatory grief. You may find yourself questioning what you thought you know about life and death. What does life mean in the face of mortality? Have I lived my life the way I should have or wanted to? No one else understands how lonely this is, do they? How much time do I have left? These are common thoughts of someone in the midst of anticipatory grief.
Anticipatory Grief Versus Depression
Aging: We all know that death is inevitable at some point in our lives. But as we age, we are forced to confront that fact with every passing year. Birthdays may become reminders that a long fulfilling life has been lived, but it is also closer to death. This is an example of anticipatory grief.
Support for Anticipatory Grief
- Allow yourself to feel grief and pain. These are normal and natural parts of loss. By avoiding them or pushing them away you are pushing away what makes you human.
- Find out what to expect before the loss happens. What will the disease progression look like? How will that change your day-to-day life? How can you prepare for the end, now?
- Identify your values. They may have shifted since the event that began the anticipatory grieving. Live your life according to your new values and continue to make memories with friends and family. Be open and honest with them about your feelings, hopes, and fears.
- Talk to a therapist or counselor for space to explore thoughts and feelings and identify your values.
Begin Counseling in Columbia, MO
If you are going experiencing anticipatory grief, please know that help is available. Aspire Counseling provides therapy for people experiencing grief, whether that is anticipatory grief or grief after a loss. To begin counseling in Columbia, MO please follow these three simple steps:
- Contact our office to speak to a care coordinator,
- Schedule a free in-person consultation meeting with me,
- Learn new tools to lead a life you love!
Other Services Offered at Aspire Counseling
At our Mid-Missouri counseling clinic, we believe healing begins when you look past hurts, current obstacles and future worries directly in the eye and can confidently say, “I’ve got this.” Therefore, our caring therapists provide a variety of counseling services designed to give our clients the tools they need to achieve emotional wellness. Our mental health services include counseling for caregivers, counseling for chronic illness, postpartum counseling, grief and loss therapy, counseling for teens, counseling for college students, counseling for adults, trauma and PTSD therapy, EMDR therapy, counseling for sexual assault and rape, anxiety therapy, counseling for depression, LGTBQ affirming counseling services, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Additionally, our blog features information on a variety of mental health topics from our talented therapy team. To learn more about our counseling services, please contact our Columbia, MO counseling office!
About the Author
Christi Lero is a hospice social worker, helps do research on ways to better support caregivers of cancer &/or hospice patients and provides individual therapy to clients at Aspire Counseling. She specializes in helping during moments of major life transitions. For instance, she enjoys helping people move through grief, find hope while providing care for a family member with a chronic illness and helping moms transition into being a parent. Christi provides a safe space and support while you explore your feelings & values as you find a new path forward.