Anticipatory grief refers to a grief reaction that occurs in anticipation of an impending loss. Anticipatory grief is the subject of considerable concern and controversy.
The term anticipatory grief is most often used when discussing the families of dying persons, although dying individuals themselves can experience anticipatory grief.
Anticipatory grief includes many of the same symptoms of grief after a loss.
Anticipatory grief has been defined as “the total set of cognitive, affective, cultural, and social reactions to expected death felt by the patient and family.”
The following aspects of anticipatory grief have been identified among survivors
- Heightened concern for the dying person.
- Rehearsal of the death.
- Attempts to adjust to the consequences of the death.
Anticipatory grief provides family members with time to gradually absorb the reality of the loss. Individuals are able to complete unfinished business with the dying person (e.g., saying “good-bye,” “I love you,” or “I forgive you”).
See reference for details.
Adapted National Cancer Institute.Grief, Bereavement, and Coping With Loss (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version. Internet. Accessed on May 23, 2016.