Author Topic: Anticipatory Grieving  (Read 10327 times)


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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2015, 09:21:48 AM »
I think I did on occasion and it likely got me through the first part of the time on my own.  2nd year though kicked my behind every which way possible though and as my life continues to be maneuvered by this thing called widowhood I go through different phases.  I?m mad right now 5 years later because the illness controlled my life then and sometimes it still feels like his death has me on puppet strings.

But at the time I know I wasn?t as shocked as everyone else.  My shock was when it happened, not that it actually happened.  I was the only one who actually knew how sick he was.  He could appear quite normal if you didn?t see him often.  He wasn?t technically terminal either.  I had an ?at this rate, he?ll likely be gone in this amount of time? conversation with the doctor.  He outlived that by nearly 3 years.  He could have died many times if we just didn?t go for medical help.  I knew he was tired and his spirit was breaking; so at one point, I told him if he decided he?d had enough at some point, I wouldn?t fight him.  He had reached that point in 2006 and I threw a fit begging him not to leave us.  While he accomplished a lot in the time he was here after that, he also suffered a lot.

Not too long after that though I got pregnant. I had wanted a 2nd child; but had given up on it.  Then the one night in nearly 2 years we attempt intimacy I got pregnant. I  think once we had our son I tried to convince myself he wouldn?t leave us.  I think he tried to do the same.  He told me when the baby was 6 weeks old (on our 10 anniversary) he was going to do better listening and doing what the doctors told him to do.  He was dead less than three weeks after that conversation.  Still, he had had much worse episodes and other times where I felt this may be it.  I would not have predicted his passing happening when it did.  But his illness had traumatic frightening episodes and when he passed, there wasn?t any of that.  His heart just stopped during a nap.  The children and I weren?t even home.  I came home with them and went upstairs and found him while they were downstairs. 

It wasn?t until the coroner was there removing him from the home that I remembered I had dreamt of it.  I had a dream I was widowed with my little girl and an infant son and we were in a new small home and ?okay?.  I dismissed the dream at the time because I hadn?t even gotten pregnant and we had no activity that could result in a pregnancy.  Even when I got pregnant and found out it was a boy I didn?t remember the dream.  So I saw my life without him in advance subconsciously and at times I as much as I tried to avoid it, pictured it while I was awake too.  Some of it matched up; but a lot didn?t.  The new small home happened.  It just happened this year and not the way I thought it would at all.

I will say that I didn?t anticipate and couldn?t anticipate my reaction to his actual death.  There isn?t much crying.  I cried a lot before he died.  A whole lot, especially in the shower...and screamed too.  Now, I do cry; but more I just tend to become unproductive and very tired.  And I didn?t anticipate being so angry. 


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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2015, 06:40:42 PM »
In a way, maybe it helped. The shock of diagnosis and treatment was better having him there. I think it did prepare me to be stronger after he passed. I didn't have the anger after his death but I did before. And I would remind myself that he wasn't dead yet, I had nothing to be angry about. I learned how to control my emotions much better during his sickness.
I agree with the theory of anticipatory grief. We are each different and grieve differently so, while I can see some of the benefits of it, I understand that it doesn't work that way for everyone.
I've been able to say goodbye to 2 of my friends since then, knowing that I could manage seeing them dying.


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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2015, 08:52:22 AM »
I think you hit on something Mel. Maybe "anticipatory grieving" has nothing to do with "grieving" but is really just learning how to control your emotions, and in some cases with extreme caregiving, learning how to manage a household, and kids on your own before the significant other passes. These skills I think have made it easier for me to grieve.


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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2015, 01:54:07 PM »
« Last Edit: July 02, 2015, 04:27:29 PM by IronBear »


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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2015, 12:52:34 PM »
Laurie should have died in 1997 so when the cancer came back in 2004, I thought she'd beat it again. Maybe "anticipatory grieving" would have helped better than denial?

I so get this! My Kenneth was supposed to die 12-13 years before he actually did. He beat the odds so many times, I had started joking he would probably outlive all of us. And then, he reached a point where he got tired of fighting and ran out of extra chances, and I had no time for "anticipatory grieving". Denial served me well for 13 years, though.
"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.


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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2015, 10:13:06 AM »
I did a lot of anticipatory grieving for my Scott. We both did. We knew it was ending, and we were both horrified and heart broken.

When it finally happened, I learned though that all of the grieving prepared me not even a little bit for the life after.

It's something I don't understand. My whole world and my sense of self changed in a minute. After all of the preparation, all of the thought, all of the emotions, I still had this radical shift in everything I thought I knew to be true. I still felt like I had suddenly discovered that the world was "grisly, fierce and appalling" (to quote Douglas Mawson). I had prepared myself to grieve in a world I understood and as a person I knew, but that was gone and my grief is chaotic.


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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #21 on: June 25, 2016, 05:33:13 PM »
Do you believe in grieving in advance?

I thought I did until he died.  No way was I prepared for that.  11 months after being diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, he passed.  It was like a dream.  The constant work of caregiving was over, but the real nightmare had just begun.
Days, I dive by the wreck.  Nights, I swim in the blue lagoon.  - Laurie Anderson


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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #22 on: June 27, 2016, 08:17:42 AM »
My husband lived for two years with a terminal diagnosis and it was not pretty (brain cancer - the brain is a much more dynamic organ than I had ever realized...).  When he died, people - and maybe even myself until I couldn't deny it any longer - thought I'd be ready, thought I'd had time to prepare.  Some people even said, "You must be so relieved."  Um, sadly, no.  I mean, I was relieved he wasn't suffering any longer but that's where relief began and ended.  However, what I will say is that much of my grieving has been related to the loss of my own identity in caregiving.  My whole life was consumed by the illness for two years - when I no longer had that - as fucked up as it sounds - to structure my life around, I was lost.  I mean, really, really lost.  It is better now but it is still there - I think it might always be.  Sending support. 


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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #23 on: June 27, 2016, 09:01:01 AM »
Do you believe in grieving in advance?

I thought I did until he died.  No way was I prepared for that.  11 months after being diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, he passed.  It was like a dream.  The constant work of caregiving was over, but the real nightmare had just begun.

I do believe that some of us grieve in advance of death.  In my case, I married my first husband knowing that he had a progressive, genetic neuromuscular disease that could have killed him at any time.  His muscles were so weak that he had a completely ineffective cough and at some point in his life, barring anything unforeseen, he was destined to die of respiratory complications of some illness.  He outlived his original prognosis (death by age 5) and lived into his 54th year.  I knew all along that I could lose him at any time, and we were vigilant in addressing things like colds.

I think in many ways, we both grieved his gradual loss of strength and function.  The last 16 months of his life were very fragile, as he had become quite critically ill and almost died.  We had several talks about death and end-of-life throughout our relationship, including in our first few months of dating.

His death came fairly suddenly...he was at his very weak baseline, needing a ventilator at night, when he came down with a cold and deteriorated quickly.  He declined aggressive treatment.  By this point, his death was predictable.  His life was no longer any fun for him.  He was completely dependent and he was always afraid.

But as I have said before, I was very well prepared for him to die.  But...I was not prepared for him to be dead.  I went home from the hospital after he died and sat on my bed and the thought that came to me was, "The day I have dreaded for over 18 years has arrived."  I could not have anticipated the deep sorrow I felt after he was gone.


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Barry 11/29/55-9/22/09       John  1/16/57-1/11/14

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2016, 05:46:40 AM »
Hi lovelorne, no not really, in the sense that I don't believe grief is a finite pool of sadness that you can dip into beforehand and decrease the overall volume, somehow lessening the impact after the person's death.  My DH died after 4.5 years battling cancer.  He never ever accepted that the end was coming and fought to the very end, so that would have affected any "anticipatory" grief.  ITA with Wheelerswife that you can prepare yourself somewhat for the end, but you cannot prepare for them being dead.  I never once felt any relief after he was dead, and the grief was raw on top of the exhaustion of caregiving.  So if there had ever been any anticipatory grieving, it sure did not ease the way, much as Dahlia has put it.   


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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #25 on: August 17, 2016, 05:29:02 PM »
I'd compare anticipatory grief to very slowly and painfully peeling off a bandage. Just how it felt to me, anyway.


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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #26 on: August 24, 2016, 10:20:20 AM »
Maureen, so much THIS

But as I have said before, I was very well prepared for him to die.  But...I was not prepared for him to be dead.  I went home from the hospital after he died and sat on my bed and the thought that came to me was, "The day I have dreaded for over 18 years has arrived."  I could not have anticipated the deep sorrow I felt after he was gone.

Some days I wake up and still expect to see him which is weird since I've remarried.


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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2016, 02:07:04 AM »
I definitely did some pre-grieving. My first huge breakdown was about 3 1/2 months before he passed away. One night I asked him a question about the dinner I was making. He thought and then he said "Here's what you do" with a facial expression I'd seen a million times. It hit me that soon I would never see it again and would never have his help in the kitchen.

Later, when we knew for sure the chemo wasn't working and it was only a matter of time, I told myself the reality was that life was going to be hard for a long time. Somehow that took the pressure off later.

It helped me to steel myself for the pain to come, and to put me in the mindset of making his last days as happy and comfortable as possible. It also allowed me to put things in motion while I was still thinking fairly clearly: I reached out to my lieutenants and gave them names and numbers of people I wanted them each to contact when the time came. When the time did come, I just said "Go" and they did the rest. In turn, I could concentrate better on my children and my mother-in-law.

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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #28 on: February 07, 2017, 11:09:33 PM »
I was much more into denial. Laurie was probably in the ground three or four years before I truly accepted her death.
Peace ~ Bear

Laurie RIP (Married 1980 .. Widowed 2005)

"Grief can destroy you -- or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn't allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it."
~ Odd Thomas (Dean Kootnz)


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Re: Anticipatory Grieving
« Reply #29 on: February 07, 2017, 11:49:02 PM »
Thanks for bringing this back up Bear. I didn't accept it one bit until the last morning. I'd never seen a problem we couldn't whip. Someone else said this well on another thread-  processed the death intellectually almost immediately, but over two years in the emotional processing kicked in.
  Thats when I found you all, at two and a half years. I realized if I didn't get some help, my heart would be the next unconquerable enemy. And you all have been wonderful help.
Here's to my pretty young wife     sleepin amongst the stars           now they say what's hers is mine but I know what's ours is ours