How to Deal with Pre-Grief and Honor Your Loved One

March 1, 2018 9:09 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Bringing home a terminally ill loved one can be an emotionally charged time in both the caregiver’s life and the final days of the patient. Coming home can bring a great deal of peace and comfort to a person looking at the end of their life. While there can be a degree of relief, it may be much more complicated for the caregiver.

Pre-grieving, or anticipatory grief, is almost identical to grief. You have the same stages, but with the addition of preparing yourself for when your loved one actually departs. It’s important to know both how to handle your pre-grief and how to honor your loved one.

Recognize the Signs

If you find yourself exhausted and experiencing sudden shifts of emotion — from sadness to anger to confusion — you may be dealing with pre-grieving. Though difficult, pre-grieving is a natural part of losing someone, and may help you deal with your grief when your loved one passes. Conversely, it may not, and both situations are entirely normal.

The signs may be subtle, but if they are allowed to persist unchecked, without taking care of yourself and your emotional state, you may experience unnecessary trauma and depression. Take stock of what you’re going through, how you’re coping, and don’t feel guilty for needing a little extra help during this time.

Cope with your grief

You may feel overwhelmed by everything happening. Not only are you the caregiver for your loved one, but also you’re in the process of losing them. Now, more than ever, you need to take good care of yourself. Don’t bottle things in and try to close yourself off to your pain. It won’t make your pain go away, but will only double your trouble a future day, one much sooner than you expect. Channel that pain in a way that allows you to process it, whether that’s artwork, writing or talking to a friend or counselor.

Spend as much time as you can with your loved one in meaningful ways. If you are able, do things together that will bring you closer. If you need to make amends, now is the time to do it, as you may not be able to tomorrow. Most importantly, treat yourself with the kindness you deserve. This is one of the most difficult situations you may face and you deserve compassion. If you don’t learn to deal with your grief, you may enter Prolonged Grief Disorder.

Honor your loved one

There are many ways you can help find peace through honoring your loved one. If you keep yourself active and channel your emotions into action, you may help process your grief. That could mean going through their items and deciding what you want to keep or donate. It could be honoring them in a charity event. You could pay tribute to them through a scrapbook, a corkboard covered in their pictures and mementos or fulfilling one of their last wishes. Find something that resonates with yourself and brings you peace.

Pre-grieving, or anticipatory grief, may seem overwhelming. You may experience depression, anger, confusion and exhaustion. Pay close attention to how you feel. Take care of both yourself and loved one. Don’t bottle your feelings up and don’t hold onto guilt. Be open and honest with yourself. The better off you are, the more meaningful the remaining time you spend with your loved one can be.


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