This week I learned a new term. Anticipatory Grief. You may have already determined that anticipatory grief occurs while a loved one is still alive, but their death is imminent.
This would have been helpful information 4 years ago as we watched JR and my dad both slip away. It certainly helps me understand the anger I had during June and July 2016.
I learned the term this week while attending an online Breast Cancer conference hosted by Living Beyond Breast Cancer. There was a session called “Coping with Collective Grief” and the speaker, Kelly Grosklags, spoke about this “new to me” term.
It helped me understand my feelings this week (as well as those feelings from 4 years ago). You see, today we lost another to Metastatic Breast Cancer. A beautiful, fun, brilliant, witty woman gone too soon.
I met Ann while attending a support group for women with metastatic breast cancer at the Breast Cancer Resource Center. She was everything I am not: outspoken and loud. Not in an obnoxious way.
She had a sharp wit and a sense of humor that you couldn’t help but love. After going to meetings for a few months I became friends with Ann, Beth, and Cathy. Sometimes we would go to lunch after a meeting, go out for drinks or just sit out on my patio and enjoy a beverage and snacks (pre-Covid).
I loved talking with Ann, she had stories that could make your belly hurt from laughing. Or she could bring you to tears.
We have known this day was coming ever since she decided her body was tired from treatments. But until last Tuesday I was still in denial. I had seen her a couple of times since March (on Zoom calls) and she was holding her own.
But when the text came last week to come see her it seemed urgent. When we arrived she was in bed, no energy to get up and the spark in her eyes, while still there was just a little dimmer.
Thankfully we were able to see her while she was still coherent enough to recognize us and even engage for a bit. And for that, I will be forever grateful.
Having watched JR go through the process of dying, I knew when I left that her time here was short. And I was glad I had dropped what I was doing to go spend a few hours with Ann and my other “bosom buddies” Later that week we received an update on her caringbridge site that she was not receiving any more visitors and she was sleeping most of the time.
This week I have been anxious every time I open my email. Anticipating the final journal entry. Today, it came.
You will be missed, Ann. I’m so glad I got to know you, even if it was through this damn thing we call metastatic breast cancer