Reply To: Grief before the loss of a loved one

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Dear @amanda83,

Welcome to the forums, we are glad you’ve found us too and we’re sorry it’s taken a while for a response. Please know that your grief experience is valued here (it might also help to know that in the coming days our ‘Volunpeers’ will be joining the forums to share their lived experience and empathy, making sure that our new community members feel held and supported).

Our hearts go out to you as you face such a heart-wrenching battle to support your dad through aggressive cancer treatment. It sounds like you might be experiencing anticipatory grief… where you experience all the painful thoughts and emotions that come after the loss of a loved one but added to this is the constant stress of seeing them in their suffering, along with dread for what might come.

This type of grief has three themes; ‘traumatic distress’ which can include thoughts that you’re not qualified to deal with this, or about the disruption to your life; ‘separation distress’ for the anticipated loss; and ‘emotional dysregulation’ where you might swing from concealing your emotions (to protect your loved ones) – to panic attacks. It can be overwhelming, and confusion is common. Erica Sirrine (a renowned grief therapist) relates C.S. Lewis’ phrase the “laziness of grief” to anticipatory grief – the brain ‘freezes’ until the concept of losing the loved one is processed.

So, you see there are many valid reasons for a lack of motivation, so it might be time to practice some self-compassion and give yourself a break. Perhaps there is a way for you to ease back on your workload to give yourself the mental and emotional space needed to cope with this? Talk therapy is also good…you’ve already taken the first step by expressing yourself here on the forums. You can also call the Griefline Helpline any day on 1800 845 745, or seek professional grief and loss counselling.

Mindfulness is another coping tool, especially good for anxiety. Our Mindfulness for Grief webpage has some helpful tips for you.


@amanda83
we are so glad that you have a loving and supportive husband and children who you can turn to for support. Please keep reaching out to us here too, we are here for you. 🌸

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