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Anticipatory Grief

Grief is a response to lose. Anticipatory grief is a mourning process before a loss, such as the death of a loved one. People can experience anticipatory grief when a loved one has been ill for a long time or diagnosed with a terminal illness with a short life span. People may also experience anticipatory grief when they are on the brink of losing financial security or dreams. Not everyone feels anticipatory grief, but those who do face similar symptoms as other types of grief. People experiencing anticipatory grief feel emotions which include sadness, anger, hopelessness, desperation, shame, guilt and frustration. They may also experience anxiety, depression and insecurity.


People whose anticipatory grief is related to the impending death of a loved one often have an internal conflict where they desire and stay hopeful that their loved one will recover but at the same time they struggle with the caregiving stress and the pain of seeing their loved one suffer. This conflict between trying to remain optimistic and letting their loved one go often causes people with anticipatory grief to struggle with a sense of guilt. They find it challenging to share their internal conflict for fear of being judged that they do not love their loved ones. However, by keeping their struggle private, overtime it can lead to depression.


If you are facing the impending loss of the loved one, symptoms of anticipatory grief include:

  • Sadness/tearfulness

  • Anger/resentment

  • Loneliness

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Guilt

  • Excessive fear

  • Fatigue

  • Emotional numbness

  • Poor concentration/forgetfulness


It is essential not to deny or dismiss the sign that you are experiencing anticipatory grief. Unprocessed anticipatory grief may cause anxiety, guilt, fear and irritability. It may also affect your sleep, leading to poor concentration and decision-making. The unprocessed anticipatory grief may also lead to strain in your relationship.


It is essential to acknowledge your suffering by:

  • Process your pain and emotions with a trusted family, friends, or a professional counsellor. There is no shame in expressing how you feel.

  • Taking care of your physical and emotional health – Caregiver often experience burnout. It is essential to seek people who may relief you from the caregiving duty while you rest or go for a quick walk.

  • Spend time together – although it may be challenging, find ways to spend time with your dying loved one. It also may time to start having conversations you might have been avoiding. Rehearse with someone how you may like to bring up the conversation.


Grief is an essential part of mourning the loss. Grief takes time, and chaotic grieves differently. It helps to have someone to journey with you in your grief.


Restoring Peace Counselling & Consultancy offers counselling and psychotherapy for people going through grief and loss. For more information, please visit www.restoringpeace.com.sg or Whatsapp us at +65 8889 1848.



Keywords: Singapore, mental health, therapists near me, therapy, counselling, grief, loss, death, anxiety


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