Coping with the loss of a loved one is a painful experience that most of us face within our lifetime. In most cases, we begin grieving after a loved one has died. Most mental health literature focuses on the processes one goes through after the loss: denial, anger, etc. In some cases, however, one anticipates the loss of a loved one and can grieve proactively. Usually, this occurs when a loved one has a terminal illness. Preparing for the loss of a loved one not only increases coping strategies for the actual death of the person, but enhances personal growth for the bereaved. What can you do to prepare for the eventual loss of a loved one?
1. Seek mental health support-care taking can be a difficult and sometimes lonely experience; talk to a mental health professional before a loved one passes away to cope with the stress of caretaking responsibilities and preparing for loss
2. Build a social support network-research shows that those with a healthy support system cope with caregiving stress and bereavement more easily than others; they also are more motivated to view life in a positive way while grieving
3. Live with Purpose-Don’t wait until after a loved one passes away to embrace life goals; prioritize your values now so that you can continue with meaningful activities even in bereavement
Author: Joclyn Malys, M.S.
Rogalla, K. B. (2018). Anticipatory Grief, Proactive Coping, Social Support, and Growth: Exploring Positive Experiences of Preparing for Loss. Omega, 30222818761461. https://doi-org.ezproxy.pcom.edu/10.1177/0030222818761461