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  • Writer's pictureMarybeth Haines

Anticipatory Grief and Quality of Life

Updated: Dec 5, 2022


Anticipatory grief is a grief reaction that happens when there is an impending loss. When a beloved pet becomes first diagnosed with a terminal illness or when a pet becomes older in age and experiences changes in health, the reality of the impending loss begins to be felt emotionally. Though we think of grieving as something that happens after a death, it often begins long before death arrives. Once the concept of death becomes visible to us, it is natural that we begin to grieve.

Anticipatory grief can carry many symptoms from what regular grief would including feelings of sadness, anger, depression and isolation. These complicated emotions are often coupled with feelings of exhaustion that comes with being a caregiver to a beloved pet and it’s really important to include self care into the protocol. When you take care of you, you can take care of your pet even better. We often miss this step and it’s an important one to consider.

There are several resources available on helping you with this very emotional time. It’s important to note that when going through this, some can experience symptoms on a physical, emotional and even spiritual level. Grief is a journey and just as it would be felt after loss, how we cope with the anticipatory grief prior to loss can be different from one person to the next. Just like a snowflake in unique in that there isn’t another one exactly the same, so is the grief you feel and it’s important to find the best support to what you need. Anticipatory grief can include overwhelming sadness and anxiety and these feelings are very valid and normal ones to experience. Reaching out for support is very important to accompany your anticipatory grief journey.


As pet’s age, you may notice that they slow down and start to enjoy a different lifestyle. They start spending more time sleeping or perhaps not as active as they used to be. It’s really important to recognize the difference between the natural slowing down of life vs. suffering due to the quality of life. Because pets mask pain, it can be hard for us as pet parents to know if our pets are suffering. Pets carry the animal instinct from when their ancestors were in the wild. If they became hurt in the wild and showed this openly, they would become prey to other animals. Therefore by nature they don’t like to show pain or weakness. But we have tools we can use to help determine their quality of life and support them best. There are some really comforting resources available to you when experiencing Anticipatory Grief that can be helpful and comforting. If you are going through this right now, we extend our arms out to you in full support. You are not alone, please feel us near xo.

Resource for Anticipatory Grief and Quality of Life Assessment: Argus Institute – Colorado State University

With love, blessings and much support,


Marybeth & Mr. Mooshie

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