OK, I am cheating.
I am pre-scheduling this post to run a couple days after my surgery to talk about anticipatory grief. What is that? It is the grief that you fear is coming and that you can’t stop from happening. It is the fear that grips me now, in not knowing the outcome and what will be the result of my surgery. It is the aftermath of the things that I will have to contend with post-surgery as I begin to heal and cope with life after prostate cancer.
In your life you will have these moments. As your parents begin to fade in vitality and health. They will no longer be able to fully participate in their lives and you will begin to wonder, “How will I be able to handle their decline and eventually their death?”
We, all will find anticipatory grief present in our lives. It will not just be, in the fear of death but, it will also be present in our everyday events. You have already experienced if you had a sleepless night worrying about a school test, a job interview, the closing on the new home, or that bill due at the end of the month. All these examples are little griefs that occur in our lives that we don’t recognize as grief but that fit the definition of grief.
Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.
From my examples, you feel conflicted about studying enough for a test, do you have the qualifications that this job is looking for, will the bank or lawyers hold up or prevent the closing on our new home or where will the money come from for that bill? These are simple recognizable examples.
There are other occasions where we anticipate an outcome with unexpected or anticipated outcomes. How about this tiny grief? You are in traffic on the expressway, however it is not expressing. The lane next to you seems to be moving better than the one you are in, so you make your move and properly change into the faster lane only to come to a complete stop.
Believe it or not this meets the definition of grief. A tiny one, yes. Insignificant? Well, did it have an impact on your day? Did you take your frustration out on your co-workers or your family? My point is that we do not recognize all the times when grief is present. We are not prepared when grief appears or when it is on the horizon and there is nothing we can do to change the outcome.
We can do better at preparing for loss and its accompanying grief. We can do better at becoming more comfortable with difficult subjects. That is our mission at Being with Grief, to change the conversation around grief. When we realize that things are about to happen and as they say “Its about to go down.” Don’t shy away from the meaningful conversations, find a way to open the door to honest and authentic conversations about the important things. Find resources and turn to those experienced in what you are facing. Help is there.