Grieving before your parent dies

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Usually people think of grief only as something you experience after someone you love dies. However, it’s possible to feel grief when you know you are about to lose something that is important to you, before it happens. This is called ‘anticipatory grief’ and often happens when someone you love is expected to die. Waiting for your mum or dad to die – and knowing you cannot stop it – can be just as overwhelming and painful as after the death has occurred. It can be a really confusing time, with many mixed feelings and you might not be sure how you’re supposed to act.

There will be lots of sadness, but there will be good days too – make the most of them.

Everyone in your family is experiencing their own feelings of loss and grief, but they may be showing it in different ways. They may also be trying to hide it. You might find it really scary or upsetting to see your parents so stressed. And you might miss the way things used to be. But grief is normal and things will eventually settle down. It can be important that you try to understand and get a handle on your grief so that you have the energy to make the most of your time with your parent and say the things you need to say. It can help to connect with other young people who have faced the same crappy outcome in our online community or in peer support groups, or to talk to one of our professional counsellors.

This is a sad and scary time, and you will need space, time and some help.

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