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Lynne Eldridge MD

Grieving Before Someone Dies

By January 16, 2013

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Most of us are all too familiar with the grief that accompanies the death of a loved one. But what's talked about less - even though it's common - is the grief experienced before someone dies.


This grief is something known as anticipatory grief. It's similar in many ways to the grief felt after a loved one dies, but often there is more anger and more emotional upheaval. How do you hang on to hope at the same time as you are learning to let go? Not only is this tender in-between place an uncomfortable place to be, but it seems less socially acceptable to express this kind of grief. To do so might be construed as giving up or not being supportive enough of your loved one who is dying.

If you are experiencing this grief, you aren't alone. Watching a loved one who is dying from advanced cancer is heartbreaking and often raises tension among family members. At the same time, this in-between place grants some people an opportunity to forgive and ask for forgiveness, find peace and closure, and make memories that those who die suddenly don't have.

The articles below explain more about what we know about anticipatory grief, and ways to cope (or help others cope) as you experience this grief yourself or for a loved one who is dying.

Photo: flickr.com, user tourist_on_earth

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