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When someone we love is given a terminal diagnosis, it is normal for the grieving process to begin. At this stage  feelings and thoughts can be just as difficult as those after the death.

This process, also known as anticipatory grief, can bring up being up so many other feelings, such as:

  • A sense of dread that hangs around constantly

  • Fear

  • Anxiety

  • Anger

  • Regret over past arguments

  • Intense sadness and tearfulness

  • Being stuck in a no-man’s-land between hope and despair

  • Helplessness and lack of control.

I offer clients a space where they can:​


Talk openly and offload

Clients often feel a sense of relief being able to offload and to talk things through.

This can result in feeling less weighed down and distressed, making it a bit easier to deal with a situation.

Because of this, clients can put their energy with spending meaningful time with their loved one.

Image by Kinga Cichewicz

Talk about a change in relationship

Anticipatory grief can also involve losses that take place as an illness develops. For example appearance, lack of interest in things, loss of cognition and personality.

These changes are upsetting and extremely hard to cope with, and can impact a relationship. For example clients sometimes feel more like a carer than a partner. 

Image by Philip Graves

Consider important conversations

It can be important for clients to have a conversation with their loved one about their wishes for after they have died, and the legacy they want to leave behind.

These conversations are far from easy and are often avoided. But without them clients may be left with feelings of regret.

Image by Peiheng Yang

Talk about how to cope

Anticipatory grief can be exhausting both in an emotional and physical way.

Clients often find themselves in a constant state of hyper–alertness where they are constantly on-duty. Therefore self-care is vital, but often neglected.

It's important for clients to identify and explore how to cope.

Back view of a sad, lonely little woman with a hud looking to the horizon from the cliffs

Explore thought processes

Clients are often concerned about their thoughts during this time.

They may be secretly hoping for the pain to be over, which can cause complexity and guilt. Or they may be struggling to understand what they have done to deserve the situation.

Whatever the thought process, they are normal, and a way of preparing for the death of a loved one.

I help clients identify coping techniques to enable them feel less alone and more accepting of their thoughts.

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