Monday, 5 March 2012

Monday 5th March - anticipatory grief

So it is Monday and having enjoyed a weekend with Harry in fine spirits its back to LGI today for him. He has to have a blood test to see if his platelet score is 100, it was 30 last Wednesday. If not 100 he can't start his second course of TVD chemo today. Still awaiting to hear from Paul who is at LGI with Harry today. And no this score can not be increased via a transfusion, as the count has to be from Harry's natural reserves so to speak. So fingers crossed.
I have been struggling to identify with my feelings and understand them in some ways and so I have gone back to some books I have read when I have been writing essays or my portflio for my continous development as a social worker.
One book I layed my hands on is called 'On Grief and Grieving' by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. This book discusses the 5 stages of grief, but before that it also has a chapter on anticipatory grief. Having read this, I thought bingo, as that is what Paul and I are experiencing. Within anticpatory grief you can also experiense some or all of the 5 stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These different stages can be moved back and forth between too.
I can get accused of over analysizing situations or emotions, but I feel it helps to put them into context and understand them. Since Harry's cancer is so aggressive and we know of children who have relapsed it is staring us in the face that Harry may not survive, I have touched on this before I know and people will say stay positive or you shouldn't think of the worsed and yes there is hope for Harry as he is still on his course of treatement and has not been labelled as terminal yet!
However, we do store up dark thoughs and although they get pushed to the back of the mind mostly and I do want to enjoy the family life that we can have, such as this weekend, the thoughts are still there.

I will qive a quote from the above book which helps to explain how we feel:

Anticipatory grief is generally more silent than grief after a loss. We are often not as verbal. It's a grief we keep to ourselves. We want little active intervention. There is little or no need for words; it is much more a feeling that can be comforted by the touch of a hand or silently sitting together. Most of the time in grief we are focused on the loss in the past, but in abticipatory grief we occupy ourselves with the loss ahead.

This I feel somes us up. Paul and I watched Stella last night, the drama created by Ruth Jones. There was a scene in it where Stella's grandchild was born. I felt quite emtional by this and felt daft, because it was not the script that was making me emotional, but it brought back memories of when Harry was born and the life we thought was ahead of us. After the program had finished, Paul and I spoke and without me saying anything Paul spoke of the birth of Harry and I realised that it was not just me having those thoughts.

I have talked before also of grieving for the life we used to have, but from reading the above book, Kubler-Ross talks about grieving the fantasy. This is what we are doing too. Everybody has a fantasy about how things should turn out, about their hopes and dreams. We all know these get adapted along the path of life's journey. However, we never thought that our fantasy of family life in our new home, would get halted so quickly and turned upside down. We thought 2012 would be the year of us making the most of us taking out of season holidays before Harry started school. It would see us camping. Also it would see us settled in our new home, sitting back and relaxing having friends to stay etc. etc. We need to grieve this fantasy as currently it isn't happening. That is not to say the above won't happen.Although out of season breaks will come to a halt with Harry commencing school. In fact our hope currently is that he just starts school.

Grieving a fantasy comes into play in many situations and can be identified perhaps when a new born comes on the scene. The anticipation and day dreaming of how life will be with a new born can often be very different in reality. I think I felt this a bit when Callum came on the scene, as it was very diiferent to when Harry arrived. I was in a state of Eurphoria with Harry for the first 3 weeks, then the lack of sleep kicked in! With Callum it was entirely different and much harder to cope, however we got through it and Callum is an ace little boy. However, the first year plus was very hard.

I am getting off track, but I guess, what I am saying is that grief and loss and the loss of fantasy is interwoven into life in general. Many people have experiences leaving them with these feelings. I am just trying to put some identity to our feelings at present. I guess also to give affirmation that our thoughts are natural and ok to have!
In our society it feels to be emotional and show our feelings can illustrate weakness. However, I disagree and feel that to identify these feelings and understand them equips us to be stronger and move through life. If we don't deal with our emotions and understand them at times, that is when we risk being 'broken' so to be speak!


  1. Kate Barraclough5 March 2012 at 14:15

    It's an occupational hazard to over analysis!! Beautifully put Sarah, you have a real skill in writing. It was lovely to see you and Callum this morning. Keep strong xx

  2. Kate Barraclough5 March 2012 at 14:16

    clearly I meant analyse!