Anticipatory Grief, whom I like to call Aunt Grief, lingers like a ghost. Long before our loved one has passed on, part of them, an indescribable essense, has disappeared- an ambiguous loss that’s often ridden with guilt. Guilt for a grief we’re not ready for perhaps, because our loved one is still here on this earth. Whether it be dementia or some other illness, our loved one has transformed into someone unrecognizable- and when recognized, we long for the person that once was. We may not even long for a particular moment in time, but the role that person represented. A parent. A caregiver.
Aunt Grief isn’t always present. In fact, i find she’s quite illusive and appears during the most inopportune times. She visits during birthdays, holidays, momentous and life milestones, and in that joy, something else lingers, a sadness or longing, because our loved one isn’t there to share in that moment. Though alive, they are also missing.
It’s normal. Aunt Grief, though she comes and goes unexpectedly, is no stranger to our family of life. I’m slowly learning to accept Aunt Grief and understand how to converse with her. Journaling about her gives quiet time for me to heal. As I allow Aunt Grief in, I’m understanding she has no particular length of stay. Weeks, months and maybe even years. This kind of grief is long and at times grueling. I believe most meet Aunt Grief at some point in life and many will feel she’s overstaying her welcome.
But for right now I say hello to Aunt Grief and learn to let her in. If I close the door and shut the blinds, she’ll still come through the back door. No one likes to grieve. Especially when our loved one is still alive. But we need to give ourselves permission to at least let Aunt Grief come in and sit on the couch. As I do this, I’m finding we have a lot to talk about and coffee is her favorite drink too.
If Aunt Grief is visiting you now, and you need a safe place to cry, to share your frustrations, or simply talk freely about your experiences with Aunt Grief, please comment below. ALL are welcome.