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Anticipatory grief refers to a grief reaction that occurs in anticipation of an impending death.[1] While this term is usually used in connection with spouses, other people and even dying people can experience anticipatory grief themselves.[2]

This emotional phenomenon can include some of the usual symptoms of grief, including depression, and extreme concern for or attention to the dying person, but recovery and acceptance do not occur.[2] It does not speed the grieving period after death.[2]

Anticipatory grief is the subject of controversy.[2] To the extent that grief requires loss by definition, anticipatory grief primarily is mourning over the immediate loss of everyday security and normalcy, instead of the future loss of the terminally ill person.

Anticipatory grief does not always occur, and may be quite rare.[2] While many people use this term very loosely, typical feelings of sadness or being overwhelmed by the needs of a terminally ill person are not usually accepted as an actual grief reaction by researchers.

Some people believe that the anticipation of loss frequently intensifies attachment to the person.[1]

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