Reflections on Anticipatory Grief

Perhaps you are in a season where anticipatory grief is a close but unwelcome companion.  It would be so easy at such a time to ignore, push away or even run from your feelings and pain.  You are not willing or able to face the possibility of what may lie ahead.  Who would condemn you for such a response in the face of approaching loss?  It's too raw, too painful.  But in as much that you try to push it away, reality still comes back to confront you with sudden and unexpected appearances as your heart and mind struggle to face the future.  This is anticipatory grief or pre-grief.  Not morbid introspection or unnecessary naval gazing.  There is an appropriate facing of what lies ahead.  Anticipatory grief can be as painful as grief at the actual time of loss. In as much as you feel able, seek to notice your honest thoughts and feelings - being kind and gentle with yourself.  And bring your focus gently back to the gift of this present moment.  The promise of Christ is to be with you always.  And his heart is full of compassion for you and your loved one.


Almost tipping over but holding on

To the edge of a jagged cliff face

It would be easier to let go

But today I’m precariously tottering


Somewhere deep inside an underlying tension, anxiety and pain pervades

A creeping awareness of loss that’s yet to come

The shadows approach and darken my moments

I see the one I love and look up to being squeezed with pain and illness

Their body and being wrestle, struggle and give way to disease


I don’t want to look

At the sands of time running through the hour glass

Pushing this image away

It only comes back with darkened foreboding


Time running out

Now I cherish each grain of time as the sand runs through my fingers

Each grain I grasp to hold onto

As I live on the edge of time

With my cherished loved one.


Richard H H Johnston

Director, Christian Mindfulness, Christian Contemplation and Christian CBT

© Richard H H Johnston

Both the Christian Mindfulness and Christian Contemplation resources offer crafted meditations designed to help you process more difficult thoughts and feelings.  See here for more details.