Grieving the loss of a loved one is natural. Although pre-bereavement grief may be different from the grief following a death, the anticipation of the death can bring up many of the feelings we feel following the loss of a loved one. We can experience pre-bereavement grief even when the prospect of death even becomes a possibility.
Feelings such as anger, guilt, anxiety, depression, exhaustion and denial may be unpleasant but are perfectly normal when we grieve. With pre-bereavement grief these feelings are often accompanied by a sense of dread and trepidation. We can experience this grief if someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness, is in a battle zone or natural disaster area. We can even experience it if someone is badly injured or loses their independence through a medical condition. This is the anticipated loss of hope for the future as, for example, an illness progresses.
Here are some ideas which can help with pre-bereavement grief:
Connect with others
Others who can empathise and support you. Utilize the supports around you either through your social support network, friends, health professionals and voluntary services. Communicate your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and experiences with others.
Accept that grieving is normal
We’re human beings and it’s normal to have unpleasant feelings around loss. Grieving before someone dies doesn’t mean we’ve given up. Acknowledge you are grieving although the person is still with you.
Explore with the person dying ways to make the most of whatever time is left
This can be more helpful than trying to mind read or guess what they want. Talk about what you’d like to do as well.
You still need to look after yourself. Self interest doesn’t have to be selfish.
Accept the loss of the person
Remember that when we accept something it doesn’t mean we’re okay with it. It just means we acknowledge it is what it is.
Speak to a counsellor
Although there are commonalities, we all grieve in our own way and differently. Counselling can help normalise and process complicated feelings and experiences. It can also help us explore options and ways to cope in a more healthy and helpful way.
This article was written by sentientcounselling