Anticipatory Grief: Friend or Foe?
My friend and writer’s accountability partner has just published her debut book, Anticipatory Grief – The Journey of a Thousand Losses and Endless Grace by Tracy Pratt. I had never heard the term before but reading Tracy’s book made me realize that I have lived with this feeling for most of my life. It has permeating my life leaving me anxious and treating it like a foe. I have always felt like I was waiting for the warm summer breeze to turn into a sudden cold, winter storm.
Anticipatory grief refers to a feeling of grief occurring before an impending loss.
As an eleven year old girl I watched my father try and stay alive long enough to return to the United States for one of the first open heart repairs in the late1960’s. We prayed and hoped that he would make it. He did not.
And a new life unfolded for me. One in which it was just my mom and me living like roommates with me wondering what would happen to me if Mom died? Would I go live with my oldest brother who was married? At the time, we were not close to anyone else in the family.
As it turned out, I grew up, married at 19 and began my life as an adult. All was right with my world. Shortly after the birth of my daughter, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and this would begin a ten year battle where I went between hope and despair as I watched her rally and then succumb time and time again until there was little left of her ravaged body. During this time, my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer not once but twice. Again, I found myself living with anticipation, expectation of the worst, and praying for the best.
My daughter’s battle with an eating disorder came unbelievably close to extinguishing her life and I found myself wondering “Why, Lord?
Then came my own journey with breast cancer – the inherited gene that has permeated every female relative and either killed them or has them living with it. We are living with the knowledge that it could come back. That maybe it’s already here and just lying dormant until just the right time to attack. Anticipatory grief a constant companion.
All this medical mayhem was also going on with many of our friends as well. In one year we saw the passing of 4 of our dear friends and family, leaving children and wives to mourn in pain. I felt a compulsive and anxious desire to make memories at all cost because we could be next, right?
This led to an increase in anticipatory grief as I watched my husband working and traveling so much that we had little to no time to spend with each other. I lived in fear that we, too, would lose each other with words left unspoken. The more he traveled and receded into his work, the harder I latched on to him; putting a strain on an already floundering relationship.
But through it all, I found myself searching for a safe haven. Food and shopping were of no comfort, but fellowship and bible study gave glimpses of peace in spite of the turmoil. As each season enveloped my life, I found myself turning more and more to Abba Father and found myself a shelter from the storms. And in turning to Him I found that there were others who shared their pain, others who would just sit with me, others that I could spew my worries, frustrations and fears.
Living with what I now know is anticipatory grief as my foe was and is exhausting. If you have or are experiencing anticipatory grief, take some time to read Anticipatory Grief – The Journey of a Thousand Losses and Endless Grace. Tracy Pratt takes you through Adam and Eve and Cain and Able as well as Job to see how Our Father experienced the same feelings of anticipatory grief as he loved his treasures through thick and thin.
If you are an “empty nester”, recently lost your spouse, divorced, recently moved to a new city, had an accident or lost your job – you are probably experiencing anticipatory grief. Come learn how to take Anticipatory grief and turn it into a companion and not a foe.
In Tracy Pratt’s book, we realize that anticipatory grief can be a companion that leads us to the comfort of God. Using the seasons to describe her journey we learn that while we do not choose to walk with this “uninvited companion”, it can lead us to a closer walk with God and achieve peace through pain. Tracy shows us that “we have no idea how God will bring life from the death of our treasure. “What” and “how” are not our business. Under the layers of our autumn new life sleeps through our winter. It is the “way of the Chrysalis.” We are the vessels in which God pours in – and out – His life. We need not understand or be in a hurry, but simply commit to trust.”
Thank you, Tracy for changing my attitude towards anticipatory grief and for your support.
Thank you for reading my post. If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it. Feel free to comment here or even re-blog – may these words take flight!
I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts. To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com
Blessings for Health & Wellness.