Anticipatory Grief


While one may say this is the perfect time to solidify a meditation practice, I am not finding this true for me. I will use the Calm app or be still for 3o seconds when the Calm commercial comes on but I am not drawn to regular sit down meditation right now. I will find myself staring out the window, mesmerized by nature’s stirrings. While walking outside today I was gently focusing on the buds floating on the breeze’s carpet, making soft patterns in the air. Simply observing the mist dance from the essential oil infuser is also relaxing and meditative in its own way.

These simple observations awaken me to the natural flow of life, undisturbed ( or less disturbed) by human manipulation. Have you noticed how alive Spring has been this year? The birds seem more active, the trees more vibrant and the sky more dynamic. We are part of this cosmic dance, but usually are out of step with the rest of Gaia’s inhabitants.

Over the past few weeks I have thought about my former clients and what life has been like for them since the pandemic. To lose their therapist on top of everything else seems so unfair to me. But fairness is never a certainty. We can strive to be fair in our deeds and actions, but 3D life is not fair at all and may have been designed this way. I pray for my clients and hope they are getting all the support that they need.

I went back into therapy last year for a number of reasons, the primary one being that I was feeling sad at the end of 2018. It seemed prudent to get some support so I would not slide into a depression. While I took this step with ambivalence, I proceeded to find someone ( ” Angie ” ) local and affordable. I did not overthink this process and found someone rather quickly. She is an artist, lives closeby, and works in her home. She is older, very approachable and quite kind. Her home is an oasis, decorated the way I would if I took the time and care and had the resources. I felt safe there in this house with this person to be me, a therapist seeking therapy. I have not been in therapy for a very long time and was not sure how it would go. Ann’s style is very direct and expressive. She shares about her own life with deliberate intention. She chooses to show who she is and says it is becoming more mainstream to have less of a wall between client and clinician. Angie freely gives out articles and resources and is patient. She seemed to be a good choice for me. Imperfect, but certainly capable of holding space for my healing.

Last summer I went to her home for a session and no one was there. I called her after a few minutes went by and she told me she was in the hospital and would be there a few weeks. I was taken aback by this. Angie later divulged she developed leukemia and that treatment is complicated and lengthy. She offered me referrals if I wanted to see someone else. I decided to wait it out and she updated me on her progress. Eventually, we resumed our sessions and her health improved. I became very concerned about her health as she looked very tired and frail. It was a challenge for me to keep myself in the receiving role. Which is why I waited a while between visits. I told myself she would look healthier over time and this is my issue, not hers. When the pandemic happened, I knew I had to stay away and that I do not like zoom sessions. Ironic right, since I was providing telehealth to my clients. A couple of weeks ago after the layoff, I reached out because I needed to vent and get additional support. Imagine my horror when Angie emails me to say she is no longer practicing because she is dying. I wrote back to get clarity and Angie said the leukemia returned. I recall her telling me that if this happened she would not seek more treatment. I brushed her remark aside because the transplant was successful. Well, it was until it wasn’t.

I don’t know how to handle this. I have never gotten an email like this before and I feel abandoned. I do not want to find someone else. I want Angie to get better, yet I respect her choices. I just want the situation to be different. I will not know when she is dead and she could be already gone. I question the point of our brief time working together, that almost did not happen. I was not certain I wanted to open myself up again to a stranger. Was this loss more problematic than what brought me to her in the first place? I won’t know until much later when hindsight kicks in. It was suggested that I perform a ritual to help me mourn. Loss often has an aspect interruption within it. This relationship seems unfinished. And yet it is finished. Angie is true to herself and I appreciate that about her, along with her kindness, resilience from personal difficulties, and her honesty. I also admire how much she loved doing healing work. So many times she would share how lucky she is to be a therapist. Maybe because she chose it later in life and learned to appreciate her second career, or maybe because Angie just enjoyed helping others in this way. Her enthusiasm inspired me to try harder when I wasn’t excited about my work. The articles she gave me will remain part of my connection with her going forward.

One can say that living on Earth in a body always contains anticipatory grief to some degree. Our time here is finite and most of us do not get advance warning. It feels quite heavy to live with so many loose ends. But I will do the best that I can and writing is one form of therapy for me. Releasing my inner world this way is healing and comes naturally. I do not take this gift for granted. But there is more grieving to do.

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31 thoughts on “Anticipatory Grief

  1. Pingback: Anticipatory Grief – Nurse Advice Textline / Chat (Completely free! No catch) Questions will be answered 1hr-24hr at most.

  2. Remember what she taught you in your sessions . Any lightbulb moments you had , any particular words she said that stayed with you – take those with you and put them into practice In your day to day world . That way her work with you has continued hopefully for many year . I saw a therapist 12 years ago now and in the moments I need her , her words are still there ❤️

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      1. Hi there, we are putting together a video that previews our articles on grief and highlights other authors that gave a unique perspective on grief. If you would like to see how you will be featured, it’ll be in the same way as in our video for Travelers Inc (which was our last issue). We hope to include you. We really enjoyed your post.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, the video will be posted later this week and we will send you the link. The articles are written by us. We highlight other blog authors who had an interesting take on the same subject and include them in our videos. The last video was in the post labeled This Just In… Travelers Inc.

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  3. I can so feel your heart as you wrote this piece Linda… When we find someone that helps us, listens to us and heals us, its so difficult when they themselves become ill… I am so sorry to read about your therapist ‘Angie’ and I can fully respect her decision, she needs her energy to concentrate on herself..
    This whole lockdown separation is so taking its toll on so many people…. Grieving is a natural process, and the world as at large at the moment is grieving their own loss of freedoms.. So what you are feeling is doubly amplified
    I fully agree with Eliza’s comment too… Wise words given you Linda..

    Sending Love and well wishes, As you navigate through my friend 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do respect ” Angie’s ” decision, but it leaves me empty and unsettled. I agree that loss is everywhere on the planet, except perhaps with the 1 percent. We are finally off lockdown in Philly, ( stage yellow now) but I am not wanting to congregate while feeling unwell. I do not want to catch COVID and may be at higher risk. It is so strange that so many of my elderly neighbors disregard social distancing and masks and carry on like there is no virus. Maybe they are ready to leave this world or are simply ignorant of the risk to themselves and others. If only it was fake as some people say. Someone I went to HS with, in my homeroom died of COVID complications. I did not know her well but she left behind a family.

      I will leave it at that.

      I so appreciate you Sue ❤

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  4. the first thing that came to mind from what you shared at the start is that meditation is what we each make it. i’m like you and don’t particularly feel drawn to sit down meditations – or at least not regularly. the things you shared feel like life as a meditation, which is more resonant to me too. that everything we do can be an act of presence, connection, receiving inspiration and insights in the moment…nature definitely makes that easy. it’s a form of walking meditation that isn’t just about the discipline of silence and not stirring, but an active form of being and seamless communication. at least that’s how i see it and i love that you know what works best for you. ❤

    secondly i wanted to share my love with you and healing peace for what you are experiencing with your loving therapist and friend, Angie. she sounds so lovely. it's hard to sit on the sidelines when people that mean a lot to us are experiencing a part of their journey in their own chosen ways. a huge hug and lots of love to you, as well as prayers and love to Angie in all she is embracing. ❤ i'm glad you have writing to help you through things.

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    1. Thanks Tania for your words of comfort and understanding. I do enjoy walking meditation, but lately I encounter many not wearing masks or social distancing and fears kick in. I am a “do what works “person and I can do sitting meditations when I feel grounded enough. These are rough times for me yet I am fortunate in many ways. I do my best to remind myself of all that supports me and of the potentials I can tap into.

      big love, Linda

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank goodness you follow your own heart and do your meditations however you feel in each moment. I like to see life as one one big meditation ❤️ So sorry to hear about your friend Angie, Linda … I felt during your story telling that she was showing you a new way of working yourself… from home, combining your therapy work with your heart/intuition work❤️ I suppose going out on a limb😀 . I’m sure you’ll find a way to cope with this hurdle… and bring yourself into a new focus of living all your potential, that is indeed here and now for you to choose to experience🥰 much love, Barbara x

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Barbara, your comment about Angie’s work is very astute. In order to do work like Angie I would need to attain what she has , a higher level of licensure. I am only months away from taking the test, but need to find work again to complete my supervision hours. I do some work from home, may astrology and intuitive work. Right now I am offering free readings for all my readers as a pay it forward from someone who was kind to me. Let me know via email if you want one. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Eliza Ayres

        Grief comes whenever there is an ending. The true strength appears when you are ready to make the transition into the new, with whatever life has presented you. Be open and allow your choices to appear. They will when you open your heart to the possibilities that lie before you… State that which you truly desire and if your heart and eyes are open, you will discover the open door that has always been there before you… It is up to you whether or not you wish to go through it. It is always about free will and accepting the responsibility for what choices you make…

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