How to Cope With the Impending Death of a Loved One


You may find yourself in a painful situation where a loved one's death is impending and experience grief even before they pass.

This sort of grief is called anticipatory grief and it is experienced by the loved ones of someone approaching death's gate as well as the person.

Anticipatory grief comes with a lot of conflicting emotions.

There are ways to cope with the impending death of a loved one and they include finding ways of expression which could be in form of journaling, letter-writing, art, and many other things.

Reaching out for support from friends and family or professional experts can be a huge help in such a trying period.

To learn more, read the rest of the article below.

Kelsey Maestas, LPCC

We can find it in ourselves to overcome!

Pueblo, Colorado
View details
Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC, NCC, EMDR-Trained

“A cosmic perspective always attenuates tragedy. If we climb high enough, we will reach a height from which tragedy ceases to look tragic.” ― Irvin D. Yalom, When Nietzsche Wept

Susan Taylor, LPCC

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - MA

Vanessa Curran, LPCC

"We can do hard things." -Glennon Doyle

Engage in Forgiveness

Forgiveness for anticipatory grief is in two forms. To yourself and your loved ones. You can engage in either or both depending on your situation.

During anticipatory grief, the impending death of a loved one is all-consuming and the gloom spreads to our minds making us think all sorts of things as we try to come to terms with the fact that someone we love so much is about to be gone from our lives forever and we have no control over the matter.

Some of the thoughts may have some truth in them and others may be wild reaches, but they have to be dealt with so they don't consume us.

We may feel guilty about not having appreciated their presence enough when they were around.

We did not talk with them as often as we should have and did not get more involved than we did.

These carry feelings of guilt that can haunt a person for a lifetime if not addressed. A good way to handle this feeling is to talk to our loved ones.

To apologize for what we did or did not do, for what was said and not, and to also forgive ourselves for everything we feel we are guilty of.

It could be that it is the loved ones who are near death's gate that we feel have wronged us in some way.

Forgiveness would still be a healthy option to take.

Engaging in forgiveness will let us effectively carry on with a lighter weight on our shoulders as we hope to make the best of the time we have left with our loved ones.

What happened in the past we can no longer change, but in the present and future we have some measure of control over and forgiveness is not a bad route to take in this regard.

Explore New Ways of Expression

A common practice is keeping a journal where one can put their thoughts in their most undiluted form.

There are things we may not be able to express even with our closest friends.

With the use of a journal, we can put such thoughts down to help you with processing them.

A journal can draw out repressed emotions that you did not even know were there.

This emotional release can be recreated via other expressive means like letter-writing in which you can write down things you want to say or appreciate about your loved one and give it to them.

Sometimes this gesture can be reciprocated by the person to who it was given and they use the opportunity to say everything they can before death comes.

Other forms of expression include art therapy which involves expression through different forms of art.

Find the mode of expression which suits you and help release all the pent-up emotions fighting within.

Make Final Memories

Hard as it may be to swallow, there should be an acceptance that we will never get to see or share memories with our loved ones after their final days which are impending.

Spending this final time with them should be made a priority.

The possible activities that can be done depending on the state of health of your loved one together with some other factors.

These final moments should include moments where you celebrate their life.

This you can do by asking questions about people and events you know mean a lot to them. You can gather family and friends of loved ones to talk about memorable stories shared with your loved one.

Making a loved one know how loved they are will mean the world to them in their final moments more than anything money can buy.

Some people opt for final trips or outings with loved ones.

Some loved ones nearing death may be unable to leave their hospital beds in which case something like going through pictures will do.

You could read them their favorite book or watch their favorite movie with them or play their favorite song and dance to it to their amusement.

Discuss the time spent and how appreciative you are of having spent it with them.

Things as simple as holding hands and sitting in silence can have tremendous value to loved ones in their final moments.

You can come up with ideas of things you know they will enjoy or you may ask them for ideas.

Some people near death's door may have a bucket list that you can go through checking off with them.

Making videos of these final moments for yourself or your family and friends should be considered.

Grief & Loss Therapists in Colorado

Rebecca Johnson, LPCC, NCC

Rebecca Johnson, LPCC, NCC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Julianna Miller, LPCC

Julianna Miller, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Heather Comensky, LPC

Heather Comensky, LPC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Sarah Lawler, LPC

Sarah Lawler, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021
Deja Howard, MSW, SWC

Deja Howard, MSW, SWC

(719) 345-2424
Melvin Lee, LPCC

Melvin Lee, LPCC

(719) 345-2424
Joshua Goldberg, LPCC

Joshua Goldberg, LPCC

(719) 345-2424
Sarah Tapia, LPCC

Sarah Tapia, LPCC

(719) 602-1342
Jacquelynne Sils, LPC

Jacquelynne Sils, LPC

(719) 696-3439
Meghan Purcell, LPCC

Meghan Purcell, LPCC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439

Reach Out for Support

Moments before a loved one passes can get too overwhelming for one person.

You can feel alone in your grief and that is what grief is capable of.

It isolates people from others. In moments like this reaching out for support is good for your health.

A call or visit to family and friends where you can pour out how you feel and the struggles you are facing is therapeutic.

Sometimes all it takes to take some weight off one's shoulder is a listening ear.

People who have gone through similar experiences can be particular breaths of fresh air as they can relate to your experience and even express things you have not been able to put into words yet.

There are online support groups that contain strangers ever willing to help others with anticipatory grief.

such groups usually are filled with people who have dealt with the impending death of a loved one and can provide useful information that helps.

Grief counseling should also be considered as it caters to anticipatory grief as well.

Take Care of Yourself

The impending death of a loved one can have a devastating effect on one's mind and body.

The stress and anxiety that comes with the thought of the looming death of a loved one are not easy to bear and may cause a few sleepless nights.

Eating, resting, sleeping and hygiene may go out the door as someone struggles.

Good health should not be discarded by any means.

It is a disservice to oneself and can be a big problem when someone has dependents to take care of.

Seeing their loved one under a lot of stress can also trigger painful and guilty emotions for the person facing death because they tell themselves they are the reason for it all.

Some effort to this end should be put into taking care of oneself through the ordeal of the impending death of a loved one.


One can accept that death is a part of life but there is not much that can prepare a person for the death of a loved one.

The grief that we feel at the impending death of a loved one feels different and comes with its nuances.

Coping in situations like this is hard but some practices can help.

They are engaging in forgiveness, finding ways of expression, making memories, reaching out for support, and taking care of their health.

Knowing that death is imminent does not feel good. But hopefully being equipped with these tips on coping will help. 


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July 13th, 2024

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