Coping With Anticipatory Grief – Part 2

Let Children Express Their Grief

Children can also experience anticipatory grief. It is important for kids to work through their grief. Children often have fewer chances to express themselves. Studies have shown that children who do not have the opportunity to grieve are more likely to struggle with anxiety and depression later on in life.

Children need to be included in the grieving process; they need a safe place to express themselves. There are some myths that children do not feel an impending loss as deeply and a study has shown that parents with a terminal illnesses are not aware of how deeply distressed their children are. But on the other hand, the same study also found that these children learned to value other family relationships much more than children who do not have parents with a terminal illness

Talking about death with a child who has a very ill parent has been shown to help. It can help to decrease anxiety, depression, and behavioural problems. Children need to know they are cared for and will be cared for after death, they need to understand they are not being abandoned.

Consider Journaling

Keeping a journal can be healing as it can help you express things you would not normally feel comfortable sharing with a friend. Some people prefer a private journal or may want to use an online blog to share their experiences with others going through a similar situation.

You may also want to try writing letters to your dying loved one as it might help you say all the things you wanted to say.

If you are the person who is dying, consider writing letters to your children or other family members. Letters are a great way to express emotions and can be a gift to those left behind.

Nurture Your Spirituality

Spirituality is very important for those who are dying and for their caregivers. This can come in many forms:
• Religion and Prayer
• Meditation
• Communing with nature
• Listening to music that is meaningful to you

It has shown that people have a better quality of life in their last days if they have an active spiritual life. Caregivers may also experience less depression if their loved one has an active spiritual life. What is good for the dying person may also be good for their loved ones.

Maintain a Sense of Humour

There is not always much room for humor when someone is dying, but in the right setting, humor can sometimes be healing. It may take some thought and time to bring humor to your loved one as it is helpful in many ways, but it is also important to not trivialize your loved one’s situation. Do not make jokes about pain as an example.

One person might enjoy funny emails and memes, others may enjoy comedy movies or series. Laughter may not always be helpful, but sometimes it can lighten a heavy mood a bit.

Practice Forgiveness

Forgiveness is healing. Learning to forgive yourself is just as important as forgiving others. The time before death is extremely emotional. There may be anger and resentment among family members but this is the time to resolve differences.

Listening is an important step toward forgiveness. People often say the same things but in different ways. But sometimes there are clear differences. When you are irritated with another family member, ask yourself “is it more important to love or to be right?”

Give Your Loved One Permission to Die

A dying person may remain until a specific moment, for example. They may wait for a graduation, a birthday, or a visit from a loved one. Some people seem to wait to die until a loved one says goodbye. This goodbye can act as permission to die. This can be helpful for the dying person and for loved ones. A goodbye can be a beautiful gift.


Anticipatory grief is the grief you feel before a person has died and it is a common experience. There are many ways to cope, but everyone grieves in different ways. It is important to let yourself grieve. It may be helpful to find a friend or a counselor to talk to who will not judge you or offer unwanted advice. Try spending time with your dying loved one, even if it is hard. Talk to children about death and grief and let them express themselves.