No matter how hard we human beings try, everyone’s time here on earth is limited. Choosing when it’s “time to go” is typically outside of one’s control. As end-of-life approaches, many families place their loved ones in the hands of a professional hospice care provider. But the hospice process can be prolonged and painful, filled with countless negative emotions that include anticipatory grief. If your loved one was recently placed in hospice care, what follows are some proven ways to navigate the grieving process together. 

What is Anticipatory Grief?

Anticipatory grief is the grief that a person begins to feel while preparing for something negative, for example, the terminal conclusion of a loved one’s life due to declining health. It can be felt by the person who is nearing death or those impacted most by their impending loss.

Symptoms of anticipatory grief include:

  • Loneliness
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Denial
  • Guilt
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Emotional numbness
  • Reluctant acceptance

Preparing for the Inevitable

Feeling emotional while preparing for the death of a loved one is normal and may even include mourning. For the sake of your health and wellbeing, it’s essential to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by delegating preparation tasks and seeking emotional support.

Keep things simple by staying organized and building a solid support network. If you need to complete any final arrangements before your loved one passes, allow yourself plenty of time. Notify other family members and friends of the impending death so they can say proper goodbyes and provide closure for all.

Putting old resentments and conflicts aside will allow you all to focus on your loved one’s wishes and ensure they have a peaceful passing. Communication is the key during this challenging time.

How to Get the Support You Need

No one should have to suffer through the grieving process alone. Seeking emotional support from others is the most important thing a person coping with anticipatory grief can do. Thankfully, many social networking opportunities exist for those suffering from anticipatory grief.

Although many find emotional support through close friends and relatives, support groups and meetings are available that those suffering from anticipatory grief can join. There are even online grief support groups that you can safely “attend” from a distance.

Finding Inner Peace and Comfort Together

Contributing to another’s peace and comfort usually helps promote your own. Here are some meaningful ways for all parties to find peace and comfort, including the one receiving hospice care:

  • Sharing short stories about their favorite pastimes
  • Recalling moments of humor
  • Describing your loved one’s unique interests and life contributions
  • Holding hands and praying together
  • Playing their favorite music
  • Reading together
  • Looking at a few memorable family photos
  • Sitting together in the silence of loving companionship.

Coping with Pent-up Grief

It is also essential to take care of yourself while experiencing anticipatory grief. These self-care tips can positively affect your overall wellbeing when practiced regularly.

Be sure to set aside time whenever possible to:

  • Start and continue to write in a caregiving journal.
  • Participate in physical activities that you enjoy.
  • Engage in your favorite hobbies and interests.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fresh produce, and comfort foods.
  • Be patient and gentle with yourself.
  • End each day with thoughtful moments for peaceful closure.

Although your loved one’s professional hospice care provider will address most aspects of their end-of-life care, it may become necessary for you to provide in-home support. You may need to assist with activities of daily living (ADLs), like dressing, bathing, meals, and transportation. When that isn’t possible, a professional in-home caregiver can fill in the caregiving “gaps.”

Personalized In-Home Care for Families in Orange County

Helping a loved one who’s receiving hospice care perform activities of daily living isn’t always easy. As a locally owned and family-operated provider, Colonial Home Care Services makes it easy for families to keep their aging loved ones safe— even with little notice in an emergency. At CHCS, we take great pride in carefully selecting and thoroughly screening our caregivers to ensure all have the right skills, knowledge, experience, and personality.

As a family-trusted home care provider serving Orange County, Long Beach, Mission Viejo, and surrounding communities, CHCS has provided peace of mind to those we serve for over 25 years. To learn more now about our award-winning home care services or schedule a FREE in-home assessment for a senior in our service area, please visit us at