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  • Writer's pictureMyriame Lyons

Grief and Loss: Witnessing The Loss of a Loved One With a Chronic Illness

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

Sad man

No one said it would be easy.

But no one said it'd be this hard.

No one said it would be easy.

No one thought we'd come this far.

- Sheryl Crow

Today, Kubler-Ross' stages of grief may seem like an outdated model. Still many find themselves identifying and moving through her 5 stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), while others look for other models to make sense of their grief experience. These may be less linear and perhaps more convoluted.

As a counsellor in Vancouver, I have witnessed many forms of grief and loss over the years. None are the same, yet so many of similar. The similarity that is seen and heard in the counselling space is that of sadness.

If you are someone who is witnessing the loss of a loved, there is bound to be a mountain of emotions you are, or eventually may be, experiencing. One that is often felt, but sparsely acknowledged, is anticipatory loss.

What is Anticipatory Loss?

Anticipatory loss occurs when there is an opportunity to anticipate the death of a loved one (or oneself). Whether it is someone living with Parkinson’s disease who can no longer tie their shoe, or someone coping with seizures who has to follow a special diet, or someone with Alzheimer’s disease who can’t remember your name. Living with or caring for someone with a chronic illness often means experiencing many types of losses:

  • loss of independence & freedom

  • loss of the imagined future (family life, retirement)

  • loss of financial security

  • loss of the relationship once had

  • or simply the loss of a dear companion

Know that grief is not a one-size-fits-all model, but rather a one-size-fits-one model. There is no "right" way of grieving. When caring for someone over time, you may start to grieve that person long before their death, you grieve the loss of the person that was. This is a normal reaction giving this hard journey. One thing that is for certain, is that you don't need to do it alone.

Read more about my approach to Grief Counselling in Vancouver or Email me so that I may support you on your journey.

Stay strong,


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