What is anticipatory grief?
Anticipatory grief is similar to the normal process of mourning, but it happens before
the actual death. It is in anticipation of the death.
Mourning is usually discussed in context of the family and loved ones of a dying person.
Anticipatory grief can be felt by the family, loved ones, and the child dying. Anticipatory
grief happens before death. This is often as a result of a terminal diagnosis or a
life-threatening illness, when death is a possibility. This grief has some common
stages. But each person and family is different and experiences grief, death, and
illness in their own way.
What are the different phases of anticipatory grief?
Each person expresses grief and bereavement in his or her own way and time. Anticipatory
grief may include the following phases, in any order. Grief is often an expression
that includes each of these phases or stages in multiple times, intensities, and orders:
Phase I. In this stage, the person realizes that death is inevitable and has no expectation
for a cure. Sadness and depression often occur with this first stage.
Phase II. The next phase is concern for the dying person. Family members may regret arguments
or disciplining the dying child. For the dying child, concern may increase for him
or herself and his or her own fears of death. The child may also be worried about
the emotions expressed by loved ones.
Phase III. In this phase, the actual death may be "rehearsed." The physical process of death
and what may happen after death are concerns in this phase. Funeral arrangements and
saying good-bye to loved ones may occur as a result of some anticipatory grieving.
Phase IV. In the last phase, loved ones may be imagining what their lives are going to be like
without the person who is dying. Parents may be thinking about the unused toys left
behind, missed proms and birthdays, or even what they are going to tell the child's
teachers when school is missed. Siblings may wonder what it will be like to lose their
brother or sister.
The person dying may think about life after death. The person dying may also try to
imagine what it will be like for loved ones to live without him or her.