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GENESIS Bereavement Resources offers support and encouragement to bereaved people. Our carefully prepared books, brochures and DVDs address some of the issues around grief and bereavement as well as encouraging bereaved people in creating a new life.

About John Kennedy Saynor

Anticipatory Grief: What is it?

by John Kennedy Saynor

daisiesHave you ever noticed how much of life is spent anticipating events, that are about to happen?

What many people don’t understand is that when we learn a loved one is dying we begin to grieve the loss even while he or she is still alive. This experience is known as anticipatory grief.

What might you experience during the period of anticipatory grief?

  1. Sadness – You will experience an intense sadness knowing that someone you love is dying and some of your plans will go unfulfilled.
  2. Frustration – One day you will be in denial. The next, you may be hopeful your loved one will beat the illness. This ambivalence can be very frustrating.
  3. Guilt – You may have said or done things that make you feel guilty.
  4. Anger – You may be angry with the doctors, the one who is dying or God!
  5. Loneliness – You may experience loneliness because the person is no longer part of your everyday life.
  6. Fear – You are entering unknown territory. You may be afraid of how the disease will run its course. You may fear what life will be like after the person has died.
  7. Hope – Many people in this situation find a great well of inner strength. You may find strength in your spirituality, your friends, your own life experience.

Helping Yourself Through Anticipatory Grief

  1. Keep communication open between you and the one who is dying and one or two close friends.
  2. Take steps now to reduce the guilt. You still have time to say things you have always wanted to say to the one who is dying.
  3. Make sure legal matters have been looked after. Does the one who is dying have a legal will, power of attorney and medical power of attorney?
  4. Take time to care for yourself. Those who are caring for the dying need to take special care of themselves. Accept all the offers of help you get! Draw on the resources of your faith. Take time for exercise. Find a quiet place to reflect, meditate or just listen to your inner voice.