Smiling Through Your Tears:
Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory grief is a feeling of loss before a death or dreaded event occurs. Though you can’t avoid it, you can get through it, and this book is filled with 114 Healing Steps that lead you to your healing path.

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Anticipatory or early grief is feeling the loss before it occurs. If you are anticipating the loss of a loved one or even a pet, you may find this book very helpful. If you are a hospice worker, mental health therapist, member of the clergy or member of a hospital staff, you will find a lot to work with in this book.

Little has been written about anticipatory grief. Some books on grief include a chapter or two on this topic, but Harriet Hodgson and Lois Krahn have written an entire book devoted to the many variations of early grief. Included is a chapter on what the authors see as early grief in anticipation of more terrorism attacks after the 9/11 bombing of the World Trade Center. However, the main focus of the book is loss associated with impending death.

Anticipatory grief is on the rise in our society because chronically ill people are being kept alive longer. The grief they feel is often misunderstood, and thus not unattended to. Smiling Through Your Tears offers suggestions to guide readers toward their own healing. Topics addressed include grief reactions to change within one’s life, factors that shape early grief, the symptoms or stages of early grief, responses to early grief, and complications that can occur.

Of particular interest is the chapter titled “When Early Grief Gets Complicated.” Here the authors explain how family history and family relationships play a role in our own grief. Being aware of this link will help all of us to assess what to expect from our family members, should the time arrive in our own lives.

When there is an anticipated death in the family, the caregiver often focuses entirely on the needs of the dying person, even neglecting his or her own health. The authors give us permission to take care of ourselves and suggest helpful ways to do so.

In the last chapter, titled “How Early Grief May Help You,” the authors make a good case for the claim that loss can have a positive effect on one’s life and can increase self understanding. This book offers compassion, hope and even humor.

If you’d like to purchase this book, please consider doing so on The American Hospice Foundation earns up to 5% for each purchase you make using the link below.

Helen Fitzgerald, CT, Training Director, American Hospice Foundation