Ep 58 - Before Goodbye: Navigating Anticipatory Grief

In this episode I share my own difficult journey of anticipatory grief and finding solace amidst the impending loss of my Dad. Anticipatory grief is a journey that many of us embark on when facing the imminent loss of someone we hold dear. It's a journey fraught with emotions, uncertainties, and profound changes. But it's also a journey of love, connection, and resilience. I delve into the depths of anticipatory grief, exploring its nuances, challenges, and unexpected moments of grace. Whether you're in the midst of this journey or supporting someone who is, I hope this episode serves as a beacon of understanding and validity for all that you experience.

Listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast and more.

Broadcast: March 08, 2024

Duration: 38:03

Here’s a snippet of my recording.

What is anticipatory grief?

So anticipatory grief can obviously be a hugely complex and challenging experience and for want of a definition it's the process of mourning, coping and experiencing emotions associated with the impending loss of a loved one before that loss actually occurs. This could be a really short experience. It could be a really protracted experience. But it's the type of grief that begins before the death of the person and can continue through the end of life. And it'll often occur in situations where a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, has a life-threatening condition or is facing a significant decline in health.

The tricky nature of anticipatory grief...

… part of the tricky nature of grief and the loss of loved ones in our lives is that life just doesn't stop, and we don't all have the opportunity to hit pause and push everything aside so that we can just be in that moment, dealing with our grief and with the difficult journey. Many well-meaning people told me that, you know, life can wait, work can wait, just be with your family, that's all that matters. And you know honestly, this to me didn't make a lot of sense because life doesn't wait. Work doesn't wait. The mortgage repayments don't wait, the bills don't wait, kids, if you've got them, still need your support. None of that does. So somehow, we need to find a way to navigate what we can whilst gradually, gradually figuring out which things along the way can fall away for a little while, which responsibilities you can let go of.

A multitude of common signs and symptoms that we might experience.

...so sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, even relief, which is an interesting one. And of course, I think what's really important here is that we all remind ourselves that whatever comes up for us is valid and it's real. We're human and feelings matter. And, it's about giving ourselves permission to feel and be in whatever feeling or emotion comes up.

And then there’s the physical symptoms...

Anticipatory grief can manifest in a whole host of different symptoms. Obviously fatigue, without question insomnia, headaches, muscle tension. I remember my shoulders felt like they were around my ears. And also appetite changes. I know that I lost a lot of my appetite, which is unusual for a food lover such as myself. But all of these feelings were exacerbated by the ongoing stress and emotional strain of anticipating the loss of dad. I found it difficult to keep weight on. I felt like I was aging overnight and, and perhaps. In hindsight, it's interesting for me to sort of consider this, but my capacity to care for myself fell away to a degree which in itself played with my head. Again, coming back to the complexity of this, I knew that a healthy diet would support me and I knew, I know all the self care tools in the book.


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Amy Crawford

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