Grief and loss are difficult themes. It is hard for the individual to overcome basic loss, but complications can even make grief more difficult. One time of grief is ambiguous grief, or the type of grief that is lost in between, or the grey areas of loss.
The classic example of someone who is dying slowly is an example of ambiguous grief. The family is left with the long awaited death, but still try to keep hope. The family sees the person suffer, with some hoping for the suffering to end, with others sometimes unknowingly selfishly cannot let go.
The purgatory of ambiguous grief can later lead to other complications. Some may feel guilty over the death of a loved one for having caregiver fatigue, while others may feel guilty they wished the person would finally die to find peace.
Complicated grief can emerge from many of these scenarios later in the grieving process. For some though, ambiguous grief is just a period of conflicting emotions where one finds joy then sadness with also hope and despair.
While dealing with long term illness of a family member, family members need to just be free to feel. They should not feel guilty or resentful, but respect the process, cherish the time left, and allow the grieving process to continue. In fact, such long term deaths, prepare many for the death of the a loved, and while the loss is still impactful, it is not sudden. The grief process has already begun well before the death.
When dealing with long term grief over a terminal illness of a loved one, it may be good to consult a certified Grief Counselor or speak with a someone educated in Pastoral Thanatology. One can find the guidance and relief they need during this process.
Please review our Pastoral Thanatology program, as well as our Grief Counseling program to see if they meet your academic and professional needs.