Anticipatory Grief


What is Anticipatory Grief?

Anticipatory grief occurs prior to the actual loss of your pet. It is during this period of anticipation that you might be experiencing manifestations of grief. One of the most common feelings during this time is the feeling of anxiety. It is important to recognize whether or not you are handling this emotion. Anxiety surrounding the anticipation of death can be normal. But too much anxiety or worry can actually draw your attention out of the present reality of the situation and lessen the quality of your experience with your pet in his or her last days.

Take this quiz.  Am I prepared?

  1. Are you unsure if you will be able to handle your pet’s death emotionally?
  2. Do you avoid facing the fact that your pet has a terminal illness?
  3. Are you concerned about other people’s reaction to your feelings about your pet?
  4. Are you concerned that when your pet is gone you will feel lost?
  5. Are there things that you know you should be doing to help yourself prepare for your pet’s death that you are just not doing?
  6. Do you think that your life will never be the same after your pet dies?
  7. Are you avoiding your feelings now in fear that they may overwhelm you?
  8. Do you find it difficult to build a support system?
  9. Are you unsure about guidelines for knowing when it is time for euthanasia?
  10. Have you decided whether or not to be present for the euthanasia?
  11. Have you planned a farewell ritual?
  12.  Are you having difficulty concentrating on things other than your pet?
  13. Are you experiencing emotions uncharacteristic for you?  (short temper, or outbursts)
  14. Are you experiencing excessive signs of anxiety? (loss of sleep, not having an appetite, etc)

If you scored 8-14 yes answers then you should seek assistance now for help with this transition.  Gaining more knowledge about loss and grief can help alleviate your anxiety. There are processes and techniques that help with coping during this difficult time.  Please contact a trusted counselor who understands pet loss.

If you scored 5-7, then you have faced a lot of the difficult aspects of losing your pet. You still might want some guidance to help deal with some areas that are still understandably difficult.

If you scored 4-5, you are preparing as best you can for the anticipated loss. Continue implementing active strategies to facilitate your progress.

If you scored 1-3, you are better prepared than most other pet lovers in a similar situation.

The following information was adopted from Hospice Care of Larimer County

Contact Dr. Pasek for a Phone Consultation or In-Home Consultation with your pet.