Grey Matters March 25, 2024

Grey Matters: Understanding Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory grief is the process of mourning and coping with the impending loss of people …



Grey Matters: Understanding Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory grief is the process of mourning and coping with the impending loss of people we support, often experienced when someone is facing a terminal illness or significant decline in health. While challenging, understanding anticipatory grief, and finding support can help individuals, staff and families navigate this difficult time with strength and compassion. Here are six ways to cope with Anticipatory Grief and navigate the challenges with strength.

1. Accept Your Feelings: 

Allow yourself to recognize and express the range of emotions you may be experiencing, including denial, sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, and fear. It’s natural to feel a mix of emotions when confronted with the impending loss of an individual.

2. Talk About It: 

Open and honest communication is crucial when facing anticipatory grief. Encourage discussions with the people you support about their illness, wishes, and feelings. Engaging in meaningful conversations can provide a sense of closure, connection, and understanding for both the individual facing the end of life and those around them.

3. Seek Support: 

Lean on friends, family members, support groups, or mental health professionals who can offer empathy, validation, and practical support during this challenging time. Connecting with others who understand what you’re going through can provide comfort and strength.

Free Resources in Canada:

Grief Works App:

The app offers tools and resources to help you navigate the grieving process. From guided meditations to journaling prompts, this app can support you in coping with anticipatory grief and finding healing.


Distress Centre: (403)- 266-4357

The Distress Center is a 24- hour crisis line available in Calgary. They can also be contacted by e-mail, text, or online chat (Mon-Fri 3-10 pm, Sat & Sun 12-10 pm).

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Available 24/7 for Canadians ages 5-29 who want confidential, and anonymous care.

My Grief:

Free educational online tool resource to help people understand grief.  From interactive modules to self-assessment quizzes, it provides strategies for navigating the grieving process.

Hospice Calgary:

Provides compassionate care and grief support for individuals and families facing end-of-life issues.

Mental Health Line: 1-877-303-2642

Alberta- wide 24/7 confidential service that provides support for Albertans experiencing mental health concerns. They can provide guidance, resources, and referrals to mental health services within Alberta.

Suicide Crisis Line: 988

Nation wide- 24/7 that offers trauma-informed and cultural affirming support to anyone who is thinking of suicide.

Health Link: 811

Connects you to a registered nurse who can provide health advice and information 24/7. They offer guidance on assessing health care services and finding support in your community.

4. Take Care of Yourself: 

Prioritize self-care by attending to your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Make time for yourself, whether it is getting proper rest, eating your favourite meals, exercise, and activities that bring you comfort and joy. Remember, caring for yourself allows you to better support others and cope with anticipatory grief.

5. Allow Yourself to Grieve:

Grief is a natural response to loss, and it’s okay to grieve the impending loss of those you support. Allow yourself to feel and express your emotions in whatever way feels most authentic and healing for you.

6. Being Present and Reassuring:

Spending quality time with the individual during anticipatory grief, it’s common for them to feel like they’re burdening you or others. It’s important to reassure them that they are not a burden and that you are there for them. When you are present, it allows them to express themselves openly and without judgement, as they are facing a tough battle, and having someone by their side, listening and showing compassion makes them feel less alone.

Anticipatory grief is a unique and a challenging journey, but with support, self-care, and open communication, individuals, staff and families can find strength, resilience, and healing as they navigate the difficulties of loss. Remember, it’s okay to have good days and bad days. Give yourself time to grieve, and know that you are not alone, and there are resources and communities available to support you on your journey.

By: Ariane Cruz  

Support Approach Consultant