You’ve heard the bad news. As we talked about in the previous post The Day You Heard The News: Saying Goodbye To A Friend, you have been given some devastating news that the end-of-life walk with your precious love is here.
While it’s important to begin to look at what those final days will look like with palliative care, treatments, and rituals, the emotional aspect of a grief that’s begun is front and center.
Anticipatory (An-tic’i-pa-to’ry) adj. to feel or realize beforehand. Grieving that begins before a death occurs is known as anticipatory grieving, and the physical and emotional reactions involved can mimic those that happen after a death has occurred.
The grief journey has already begun when a terminal diagnosis or the effects of age is showing the signs of a pending and imminent death. The “anticipatory grief” has started.
With anticipatory grief, the emotions of loss will resemble what grief looks like after death. As a pet parent experiencing anticipatory grief, be gentle with yourself as you maneuver these waters. Take the needed time to not only take care of the needs of your precious pet but to make sure you are taking care of your own needs as well.
For certain, in this final walk of life, the fear of the unknown will create so much of the anxiety that you might be feeling. Fear of “what’s next,” “will I have to make a decision,” “what am I missing,” and many other questions. Ask the questions that will give your heart the peace of mind in knowing that no “stone has been left unturned.” If you don’t know the questions to ask, turn to your veterinary professional or a local pet loss care professional to guide you. We all know that when we get into these incredibly emotional times, our thoughts and decision-making capabilities can get clouded by the emotions of the situation. Again, be gentle with yourself and turn to others to assist you at this time. Knowing that you have done your homework, you have made decisions because you have the information needed to make a good choice, and that the path you have chosen for you and your pet is the one that is right for both of you. A path that will eliminate as much of the regrets and guilt that may follow in the days to come.