Anticipatory grief is the feeling and sadness associated with knowing someone will soon be passing away. During the last days of life, grief starts to take over before death has even happened. This kind of grief can be felt by both the loved ones of someone who is dying, as well as the person whose life is ending. No matter the circumstance it happens under, losing a loved one can cause grief that rocks your foundation. And if you’re like most people, who need to work, focusing on anything other than your personal life can be difficult. But when ignoring your professional obligations aren’t an option, how do you deal with the anticipatory grief you’re feeling for a loved one while you’re at work?
1. Allow Yourself to Be Honest With Your Feelings
You may think that ignoring your emotions may be what’s best while you’re at work, but that isn’t true. The more you keep in your feelings of grief, sadness, and even anger, the more your mental health and work productivity will suffer. Anticipatory grief means feeling the loss of what your loved one will leave in your life. It is important not to deny these feelings and allow yourself to grieve the loss you know you will be experiencing soon. Being honest with your feelings will allow you to process and accept your journey through grief.
2. Be Open With Co-Workers
It can be hard to grieve at work, especially since there tend to be boundaries between your personal and business life. But when it comes to anticipatory grief, it’s important for the people around you to know what’s happening. This isn’t for their benefit, however, but yours. While most people do not know how to respond to you in your grief, you will need the support and help of co-workers when it comes time. Not only can you receive emotional support from the people around you, but they will also know what to do, how to help, and what you’ll need from them. Being open about what is happening and your anticipatory grief can also help you feel more comfortable with your feelings at work.
3. Create Your Plan
Odds are, you won’t know exactly when you will be needed in those final days. This makes work even more difficult. What happens if you need to leave work? Or if you cannot come in? Though the discussion is hard, you’ll need to figure out your “plan.” This can involve as many people and as many varieties of plans as necessary, but when you are needed for your loved one, you’ll appreciate the stress-free organization. Talk to employers, colleagues, and employees about the possible need for you to leave work, and what should happen when you do. When the time comes and you are needed, you will be able to be with your loved ones.
4. Ask For Help When You Cannot Focus
Grief can do extraordinary things. And just because you haven’t lost your loved one yet, doesn’t mean grief isn’t causing you significant changes in your emotional, mental, and even physical well-being. Whether it is anticipatory or not, grief can take over your entire life. Even if you do not see it yourself, your grief may have ill effects at work. You should try to recognize this and ask for help when you need it. Whether you just need a few minutes to yourself, a break from crunching numbers, or help to double-check your work, it is okay to admit your brain and attention lay elsewhere. If you push yourself too far with your work expectations while experiencing grief, you will only feel guilty and more stressed.
5. Ensure Things Are Taken Care of at Home
You cannot be at work, worrying about business things, when you are worried about what is happening outside of work. And though you may want to be with your loved one all the time, it may simply not be possible. Enlist the help of your friends and family to step in where you cannot, so you can concentrate on work. In times of grief, loved ones must band together for support. Whether it’s errands, taking care of your passing loved one, or taking care of odds and ends, it will be easier for you at work with additional help at home.
6. Reanalyze Your Priorities
The expectation of someone you love passing away tends to put your entire life into perspective. Use your grief to reanalyze your work and personal life to discover what’s really important to you. Use this experience as a clarifying moment and try to remember that even short-term decisions made during your grief may have long-term consequences. Make taking care of yourself a priority, as well as the people and experiences in your life that are most important.
While a loss in life is inevitable, it is never an easy process to lose someone you love. Expected or unexpected, grief should never be dealt with alone. Take care of yourself and your loved ones by finding the grief support you need.