Anyone can reflect on the death of a loved one and if focused can feel the panic and dread. Immediately wishing to remove it from one’s mind, one turns attention way to more pleasant thoughts, but the reality is, many families have loved ones diagnosed with cancer or dementia and other life altering illnesses. These individuals live with the knowledge their family member will die probably, unless a miracle, die soon.
This type of mental torture leads to grieving the death prior in many cases. It can be anticipatory in nature. When death does come, it may affect the initial reaction to the death. One may feel relieved, or one may feel guilty, or one continue to grieve. Pastoral Care givers need to help the grieving family almost as much as the person dying.
The article, “Understanding Grief for Still-Living Family Members” from Technology Networks based off Singers research found in J. Health Pyschol looks deeper at this concept of pre grief of family. The article reveals research from Singer that discussed the reaction of families dealing with long term illness of family members. The article states,
“The symptoms of grief people feel for a loved one facing a life-limiting illness fluctuate over time, a new study found – suggesting that individuals can adjust to their emotional pain, but also revealing factors that can make pre-loss grief more severe. Researchers examined changes in the severity of pre-loss grief symptoms in people whose family members had either advanced cancer or dementia.”
To read the entire article, please click here
Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pastoral Thanatology