Author Topic: Anticipatory Grieving  (Read 8807 times)

Shelby

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Anticipatory Grieving
« on: March 09, 2015, 07:45:15 AM »
This phrase for those of us whose spouses had a terminal prognosis gets thrown around a lot.  Do you believe in grieving in advance?  Did you do some anticipatory grieving and did it hurt you or help you?

I did do some anticipatory grieving, mostly because everything that made Rich who he was was gone long before he died. In my case, it helped through the early days, those shocky, I-can't-believe-this-actually-happened days, but it caught up to me at about month 5 and I quickly spiraled downhill.

It took a long time to recover from that spiral and it was made harder by all the people who thought I should have been prepared.  One-on-one grief counseling and then, much later, GriefShare helped a lot.

How about you guys?

robunknown

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2015, 09:15:13 AM »
When my wife was first diagnosed with stage 4 right off the bat, I thought she only had months (they never gave its a prognosis). Looking at different studies told me she may have 18 months. I think i can say i was utterly depressed and "pre-grieving" . Then 18 months, came and went. I would pre-grieve every now and then. It wasn't until about 60 months that we were told to "get your affairs in order", and it was clear they meant it. I pre-grieved for about a month solid, then we just continued to push forward. She passed at 67 months. I think pre-grieving helped me somewhat, i know, knowing that her time was limited, kept me from doing small things i would regret (like not complaining about doing stuff for her). That has helped me now. Especially when my brain tries to find something i regret (i don't know why my brain tries to do this).
I think my grieving now has an extra element that complicates things. I find I'm almost mourning two people, her before the diagnosis happened, and who she was Before  she died.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 09:19:55 AM by robunknown »

Shelby

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2015, 12:46:48 PM »
I find I'm almost mourning two people, her before the diagnosis happened, and who she was Before  she died.

I get that. I grieve the Rich that I fell in love with and married and I grieve the Rich who would have been if he'd been allowed to grow older in a "normal" way. Kind of like grieving the life we had before and also grieving the life we might have had. 

lcoxwell

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2015, 08:01:55 PM »
I cannot speak for others, but I don't know that I necessarily believe in grieving in advance.  Of course, I married my Kenneth knowing full well that he was dying and that the prognosis was that he likely wouldn't live through another year (that was 13 years before he actually died).  I guess I didn't walk into my marriage with the expectation that we would be able to grow old together, so there are things I cannot speak to. 

I think there are things that we grieve along the way.  We watched our spouses slowly fading away in front of our eyes, and we lost our spouses, piece by piece.  So for some of us, we may have grieved the loss of the man/woman we married long before their physical death.  No matter how much we may think we are prepared, though, and no matter how much we may have grieved the life we thought we would have had, there is nothing that can truly prepare us for the finality of the actual loss.  There are no short cuts to the grieving process.

I also agree with bear.  As long as our spouse was alive, "there was still hope."  It might not have been much hope, but it was there, nonetheless.  My Kenneth had beaten the odds so many times, I think a part of me started to actually believe he might continue to hold on for a long time to come, until he reached the point where he decided, "no more".  Once he made that decision, things happened fast, and there was no time for anticipatory grieving, because we were too busy trying to make the most of our last few days together.
"The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude." - Thornton Wilder

Thank you, my dearest Kenneth, for loving me and for giving me the best 13 years of my life.

anniegirl

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2015, 10:58:51 AM »
It's a real thing but I don't think it's a given in situations when a illness is terminal.

As Barney points out, correctly, where there is life there is hope, but not all illnesses offer much of either.

By the time my husband was diagnosed, he was suffering from moderate dementia. His illness had defied the doctors ability to pinpoint for so long, there was nothing that could be done except wait for it to run its course.

And it was a long course. Three years. That's a long time when you are living with someone who isn't the same person and really doesn't know who you are anymore. Has forgotten the name of the child you share.

So for me, pre-grief? Oh yeah. Whenever things slowed down between full-time job, raising a toddler on my own and taking care of a man I didn't know and who didn't know me - I grieved. Hard.

I grieved the life that was gone and the future that wouldn't be because all there that was left was a limbo like now.

I would guess it is very different when your spouse is still your spouse and your marriage is still your marriage, but in situations like mine, where everything is gone but the day in and out of care giving,  anticipatory grief is very common.

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Shelby

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2015, 01:04:04 PM »
I am so grateful to all of you for sharing your thoughts.

littlebirdie

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2015, 07:00:58 AM »
I imagine it's different for everyone. When Brent was diagnosed he was given a 5% chance of survival and we expected him to live six months at the most. So I think that in a sense it was true for me, in that I knew there was no hope right from the beginning and I had the opportunity to begin to accept what was going to be; however, I don't think that knowing your spouse is going to die can in any way prepare you for the reality of being widowed. For me, knowing absolutely that he would die and learning to cope with the reality of my life after his death were two completely different things.

Shelby

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2015, 07:19:30 AM »
For me, knowing absolutely that he would die and learning to cope with the reality of my life after his death were two completely different things.
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ManutesGirl

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2015, 07:24:56 PM »
Yes,  I grieved so much along the way but like Little Birdie said I accepted and was prepared that he was going to die but I was not prepared to live after he died.  That was somewhat shocking to me.
?I have lived my life well, lived with integrity and always lived each day the best I could.  I have no regrets.?  DKB 9/2/65 - 10/23/11

Kamcho

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2015, 09:24:38 PM »
I know I did. I would go home to shower, and would scream and cry.

Maybe a better way of putting it is that I grieved what my baby was going through, but it didn't prepare me for the finality of him actually being gone.

It was a hard road. My thoughts are with anyone struggling with this.

patriciad

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2015, 09:22:14 AM »
I knew from the moment of diagnosis that Billy wouldn't make it.  He had high hopes of beating the odds . I had to support his decision and was there by his side for all of the treatments.  But I knew that this was going to end quickly and badly.

Sometimes at night I would hear him get up-in those first couple of months when he could actually do that.  I would hear him moan and then search for his pain meds by the light of the little lamp left on all night.  I would say a silent prayer to make this an easy passing for him.  Let him go sooner rather than later -if it could just be less painful for him.

And then there were moments when I would see him sitting up in the recliner in our bedroom, hooked up to his oxygen and totally dependent on me for everything-and I would think"Please let him stay.  I will take care of him forever if you just let him stay"

So I was ready in the sense that I knew he wasn't going to be here for long.  And I did whisper to him on that last day that it was okay to go(even though those words were the furthest thing from the truth).  But all of that time together never prepared me for a life without him here.  I don't think anything prepares you for that.

Pat

VioletRoses

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2015, 11:03:04 AM »
Dave had heart issues and he had a simple pacemaker. The doctors said he couldn't be operated on until his risk level changed. We would wait for a heart attack and when it happened if he survived we would try an experimental procedure that may help him. In early March, seven years ago, I heard him fall in the middle of the night. I did CPR until the aid car arrived. They shocked him twice and then the true roller coaster ride began. He got the special procedure at the U of WA. It was successful. We began to recover. He was himself again after a time then he would slow down and we would go back to the hospital to get another stent or angioplasty. He was still inoperable but we always had hope. He ended up with nine stents in his heart over the next five years. We had the aid car here picking him up over 30 times.

We had numerous times when the doctors told us to call the family because he wouldn't make it thru the night. We were blessed with many miracles. Then he passed. I had five years of bonus time. It was not easy but it gave us time to plan. He planned for his death and made as many arrangement to take care of us as he possibly could. I grieved for our lost life while cherishing the moments we still had. We discussed, way too much, how I would live after he was gone. I cared for him at home in hospice for twelve weeks. We had our finances in order, funeral insurance and he talked to his friends and he selected the speakers and music for his funeral. I thought I was ready. I didn't want it to happen but it wasn't up to me. I thought I had so much time to prepare it was going to be ok.

I said I was ready for him to be at peace but in truth I was not ready for him to be gone. The idea of death and the reality of it are two entirely different things. The sudden silence was too much to bear. Our home had been constantly filled with family, friends and laughter and then nothing. I do think some of the anticipatory grieving helped my process but it still happened again at full strength when death actually occurred.
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lcoxwell

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2015, 03:33:02 PM »
I knew from the moment of diagnosis that Billy wouldn't make it.  He had high hopes of beating the odds . I had to support his decision and was there by his side for all of the treatments.  But I knew that this was going to end quickly and badly.

Sometimes at night I would hear him get up-in those first couple of months when he could actually do that.  I would hear him moan and then search for his pain meds by the light of the little lamp left on all night.  I would say a silent prayer to make this an easy passing for him.  Let him go sooner rather than later -if it could just be less painful for him.

And then there were moments when I would see him sitting up in the recliner in our bedroom, hooked up to his oxygen and totally dependent on me for everything-and I would think"Please let him stay.  I will take care of him forever if you just let him stay"

So I was ready in the sense that I knew he wasn't going to be here for long.  And I did whisper to him on that last day that it was okay to go(even though those words were the furthest thing from the truth).  But all of that time together never prepared me for a life without him here.  I don't think anything prepares you for that.

Pat

I can relate to this so very much.  I can remember sitting and watching my Kenneth, who was in so much pain, and I would pray that God would either ease his pain or take him quickly, so he wouldn't have to suffer so very much.  Then, I would sit in the ICU, and pray that God would let him hold on a while longer, so that I could have more time with him.  One of my very first thoughts, when he died, was that I wasn't ready.
"The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude." - Thornton Wilder

Thank you, my dearest Kenneth, for loving me and for giving me the best 13 years of my life.

anniegirl

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2015, 04:55:33 PM »
I think the one thing that makes people doubt the whole idea of anticipatory grief is they think it is a shortcut that will speed up the healing timeline or that it's like getting ready for a 5k or triathlon. Grieving in advance makes being widowed not so bad.

That's not really what it is at all.

People who've been suddenly widowed are like women who are suddenly thrust into menopause by illness or surgery. It's like "boom"! You are here!

When you've been a caretaker and you see death coming, you aren't yanked out of time and put somewhere else. You knew and you thought about it (even if it was just a little), the life after.

It doesn't make it suck less and depending on how much caregiving wore you done, it doesn't mean you will "recover" faster.

And it matters whether or not you and your spouse were still emotionally connected right up to or close to the end. Losing the connection and being "just you" at some point in the care-taking, being forced to be single but not really, changes things in the aftermath too.

I think there is more guilt in the latter because there is a sense of relief, freedom and an "at last life can move forward again" rather than hang in a holding pattern.

When someone dies, it's crappy. The anticipation doesn't make that go away. And it's okay to say, "yeah, I knew" and also, "I was relieved". Both are valid emotions that in no way make you a horrible person or diminish the love you had for the deceased.

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IronBear

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2015, 11:57:14 PM »
I am mostly just a superstitious irish-american who thinks that God would have an excuse to take Laurie sooner if I did any of that "Anticipatory Grieving" stuff. I fucking hated the doctor who told me Laurie would die and would probably have decked her if she wasn't a gal. I saw fire.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 12:01:02 AM by IronBear »