COVID-19 has impacted almost everyone in some way. Maybe you know someone who contracted the virus. Perhaps you had to file for unemployment. Or it could be that you’ve been impacted in other ways by having to deal with some other losses throughout this pandemic.
While people have had different experiences throughout COVID-19, most of us can agree that these are uncertain times.
That uncertainty can cause a fear of the unknown. Because there are still so many unknown factors about this virus and what will happen in the future, it can lead to something called anticipatory grief.
What Is Anticipatory Grief?
Unlike the grief you might experience after the loss of a loved one, anticipatory grief occurs before a significant loss.
How can you grieve something you haven’t lost yet? First, it’s important to note that this type of grief covers a variety of losses. Maybe you feel you’re going to lose your job soon. Perhaps your pet is getting old, and you’re already grieving their death even though it hasn’t happened.
When it comes to COVID-19, anticipatory grief can occur if you know someone who is sick or is at a higher risk of getting sick. It can also happen if you’re worried you might lose your job. Or, if this pandemic will impact your relationships and you’ll lose friends or your partner.
Anticipatory grief impacts people differently. For some, it can be even worse and harder to deal with than the actual loss when it happens.
Does It Make the Grieving Process Easier?
Grief is unique to each person. Because of that, it’s impossible to say whether anticipatory grief shortens the grieving time or allows the process to be “easier.” However, it does provide an opportunity to experience closure before an actual loss occurs. That can make acceptance an easier target to reach.
For example, if you know someone with COVID-19, anticipatory grief might move you to settle your differences, or tell them how you feel. It might be a turning point for your relationship. If that person takes a turn for the worse, anticipatory grief allows you to find that closure if they pass from the illness.
What Are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of anticipatory grief are often very similar to others throughout the grieving process. Some of the most common signs include:
- The desire to open up to someone
You might also find yourself visualizing the loss before it happens. If you’re worried about losing a loved one to COVID-19, anticipatory fear might make you think about it. Unfortunately, that often adds to the fear and anxiety you might already be feeling about that person and a possible loss.
How to Deal With Anticipatory Grief
Anticipatory grief is often a natural part of the general grieving process. But, if it starts to hinder your life or becomes debilitating, you might need to seek out support or treatment to get through it.
Don’t be afraid to share your feelings during your anticipatory grief. Turn to people you love and trust and express yourself. Just talking about it can help you feel better and guide you through the stages of grief healthily.
If you’re struggling with grief or a loss, feel free to contact me. Counseling for loss is one of the most effective ways to get through the grieving process, even if you’re just worried about what’s ahead.
The desire to talk to someone and open up is one of the most common symptoms of anticipatory grief. You can find comfort and peace of mind when talking about where you are in the grieving process, and counseling is a great way to do that. Please reach out to me today — I want to help.