Dealing With Anticipatory Grief
There’s nothing as profound as losing someone you love. Yet, although your rational mind knows that death eventually comes to all, your spirit longs to live forever. Even when you or a family member have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, this irony remains.
The Importance of Bereavement Counselors
Hospice patients and their families are traveling a bleak path that’s heartbreaking and scary. This is one of the many reasons that hospice staff is with them every step, including the bereavement counselor. The grief and tears are present even before the patient passes away.
These compassionate counselors can help you cope with anticipatory grief. It follows the same wide range of emotions as grief after a loss. Your body, mind, and spirit are in emotional limbo because you know that your loved one isn’t long for the world. On the other hand, maybe you are the patient, and you’re facing your own passing.
How Anticipatory Grief Affect People
The same coping tools used for grieving after a loss are used for anticipatory grief. Of course, everyone grieves differently, and there’s no singular care plan that fits all. The bereavement counselors are active listeners, and they help patients, and their families, find the tools that best suit them.
Much of anticipatory grief counseling is listening. It’s not the counselor’s job to tell you what to say or how to feel. Instead, they listen patiently and compassionately without judgment. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to feel when confronting a terminal illness.
Patients Feel Grief Also
Not only do they work with the family’s anticipatory grief, but with the patient as well. Many people have a common misconception that terminally ill patients don’t want to talk about the end of life. It’s true talking about death is a challenge, even for the person whose passing is imminent.
A counselor will help you navigate through the many emotions with your family or friends. Even though death is a most uncomfortable subject, it’s essential to let your loved ones share their thoughts and fears. Not only are they grieving for their own soon passing, but they hurt to see their loved ones so upset.
The beauty of palliative care is that hospice staff offers loving support no matter where you are on this final journey. Their goal is to keep the patient as comfortable as possible and to preserve their wishes and dignity. Unfortunately, they can’t erase the anticipatory grief or ease the pain that follows loss. However, they’re a hand to hold and an ear to listen to whenever you or your loved one needs it most.