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Anticipatory Grief vs. Sudden Loss

Anticipatory Grief vs. Sudden Loss

Humans experience grief when there is loss of any kind, including death. The “stages of grief” have been studied and the order in which we grieve has been outlined. The truth is that we all grieve differently regardless of the “5 stages”. When there is a loss of some kind there are different types of grief you may experience, one being anticipatory the other being sudden loss.


Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory grief is when a loss is expected. A loved one gets a terminal diagnosis. Maybe their health has been failing for a while and you know it’s only a matter of time. This type of grief allows for preparation of funeral arrangements and end of life decisions. When you know that someone is getting closer to death you grieve not only when they die but the entire process of their decline.


Sudden Loss

Grief from sudden loss is more of a shocking traumatic surprise. This may occur when an otherwise healthy person dies from a horrible car accident or other act of nature. There is no way of preparing for this type of loss. Sudden loss can leave a lot of undone issues. End-of-life decisions may not have been made, unresolved relationship issues remain unsettled. Finding support from family, friends and spiritual leaders is very beneficial at this time.

Anticipatory grief allows for the pre planning to take place even if only for a limited time. Having the knowledge of a loved one’s death as it approaches may even allow the one who is dying to make their own decisions about what they want. It also allows you to express and be grateful toward the person or solve any issues before they pass on.

Whether the grief you are experiencing is anticipatory or from a sudden loss the pain can be unbearable. Some of the symptoms of grief include physical, emotional and spiritual symptoms.


Stomach Ache or headache
Sleeping too much or not enough
No energy


Depression or feelings of euphoria
Apathy or extreme anger
Memory loss or distraction


Feeling closer to God or anger towards God
Stronger faith or questioning of faith


Grief Support is Always Important

Now that we have talked about a couple different forms of grief it is important to follow up with creating a support team. With a loss of any kind whether anticipatory and you knew it was coming or it was a sudden loss and shock sets it, managing grief is so important. Even when you are in the depths of pain having people to support you is a necessity. Humans were made for connection. Grief can drive us to isolation but do not let it. Surround yourself with loved ones whom you can trust to be there for you. Join a grief support group. Find spiritual guidance at your place of worship. You can grow and heal from your grief with the right knowledge and support.

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