The simple truth is that we all deal with things in our own way, including grieving. Sometimes it’s hard to fully understand what is happening when we’re going through it.
I’m giving you the hard truth about anticipatory grief from my experience because it shouldn’t be sugar-coated.
Chances are you’re reading this because you’ve lost someone. Either that or you’ve had an experience with anticipatory grief. I wish I had known that it would be hard, miserable, and downright exhausting. I didn’t know that anticipatory grief even existed, but by the end of I knew that I was already mourning a death that had yet to happen.
Anticipatory grief is your reaction when someone you love is diagnosed with a terminal illness. It’s the inevitable truth of knowing that one day your loved one won’t be around forever.
No one ever plans for a loved one to pass, but anticipatory grief does.
I went through the struggles of it, but at the time I wasn’t fully aware of it. I received news about my loved one being sick, and everything shifted. Instead of making the most of my time, I pushed people away and began a grueling journey that took months to bounce back from.
Countless emotions are felt after you lose someone. It’s the same way with anticipatory grief, but you feel them before your loved one has passed. There are lots of valleys. More often than not, I felt like I was stuck in a gully and I couldn’t climb out. My strength had vanished, and I was left with nothing but the overwhelming and ever-changing feelings of grief and depression.
Sadness enveloped me.
In the very beginning, it snuck under my eyelids and produced many tears. I still remember the day I heard the news. I sobbed, feeling weak and usless. Those feelings only magnified when the anxiety hit, which later took me months to realize, be aware of and later admit to because I was in denial about it for a while.
For me, the anxiety was the worst. It sunk its claws into me and refused to let go. I was constantly worrying about my loved one and things in general. It was torturous and never-ending. Over the course of a few weeks, I had multiple panic attacks. In those moments, in those days, I felt like it was never going to end.
What was happening to me? Would I ever feel better?
Those were questions that I asked myself and they remained unanswered while my anxiety planted roots and made itself at home.
Because of the stress, I began to have problems with acid reflux. The strain of losing someone who had been there my entire life set in and my body couldn’t keep up. It acted in the only way it knew how. Countless trips to the doctor couldn’t fix it. Only I could, but I was still harboring feelings of grief and worry. I was filled with sadness, panic, and anger.
The anxiety was the star of the show while anger was its supporting actress.
Anger came periodically. When it did come, though, it stuck around and took me quite some time to get over. I was constantly thinking, trying to figure things out and make sense of it all.
By the time I realized that I was a participant in a messed up game of anticipatory grief, it was too late to back out. Even though I didn’t audition for the part, there was no way I could cut all ties and go back to how I was beforehand. If you’ve ever been through grief, maybe you felt similar. It was too late. I was exhausted. Some days I had a hard time making myself something to eat, and that was if I was even hungry. Acid reflux and anxiety made it hard to stomach anything worthwhile. My main course of the day consisted of whole-wheat crackers and buttered toast.
I’m no expert, but my advice to you is to take it day by day.
Be aware of how you’re feeling and do not hold your feelings of grief inside. Had I not done that, I do feel as though I would have been able to cope better and recognize that I was grieving. Never feel ashamed, bad, or guilty if it is too much for you. It can be a very overwhelming thing, so please seek help whether it be from someone you’re close to or a counselor. Life is hard, and sometimes we need a little help balancing it all.