Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory Grief.......I had never heard of this until now, of course.

Everyone loses someone, and we all are extremely sad, but not all grieve. But once grief strikes you,(and you will know when it does) you must go through the grief process. It may look different for each individual, but will share many common denominators. My grief class gives the analogy of a snow storm. Many will go through the storm, but will weather it in different ways. All will experience the snow, the bitter cold, the wind in your face, but each storm can be as individual as the snowflakes within. The snowflakes represent different factors that make our stories unique, still holding on to the unwanted, common thread of death. Some factors include who the person was, how close you were to them, how they died, and the manner in which they died.

Some may know death is coming, like those of us who faced a terminal illness such as cancer. When this happens, they say that you will very likely start grieving the minute you acknowledge and accept the reality of your loved one's condition. So, your grieving process may start earlier than those who face a sudden, unexpected death. They say it may give you more time to "accept" what is to come, or give you more time to do or say things that you may not have gotten to otherwise. They say it can help you with closure and to minimize any guilt or regrets you could have had in another situation. They say it can give you time to mend relationships and restore feelings that may have been lost or just not shown. Blah, blah, blah........
Yes, I get this. yes, I understand this. And yes, I even agree with most of it, BUT with all of this in mind, I STILL believe it is a myth to believe or assume that those of us who experienced anticipatory grief have it any easier. Or that we will find it less difficult to work through the grief process. It does NOT matter how long you know, or how much warning you get, NOTHING can prepare you for the death of a dear loved one. NOTHING can or will make it any easier or lessen the pain. And NOTHING can prepare you to watch your mom slowly die.

I don't know if I am saying it would be better to have someone go quickly or more suddenly, but I do know I would NOT wish for someone to slowly die and suffer as death is prolonged. I am glad to have had those extra months with Mom. I am glad to have had just a few more days or even minutes by her side. I do NOT take those for granted. I would give anything now for just one more hug or one more I love you. A million of them would not now seem enough.

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