Chapter 2: Grieving before a medically assisted death
You are very much grieving before the person dies, and it feels like you have a short time to prepare. It can be very intense. I guess there would never have been enough time.
Even though I knew that he was going to die, and I tried to prepare, my heart wasn’t prepared.
Gerard’s story: My husband's whole demeanour changed when his MAiD request was approved. He felt empowered and immediately began making decisions about what he wanted to occur in his remaining time. There was a joyous quality to the days that followed. He sang more, laughed more, was noticeably rejuvenated. This brings in the "double-edged" sword for the loved one who experiences anticipatory grief, fear, and panic.
Gina’s story:I’m physically disabled, and my husband was my caregiver. His excitement about his impending death was at odds with my fear about what would happen to me after he was gone…
Xing Ma’s story: Near the end, my husband and I had to sit down and address the experiences we were having. I had to ask him to respect that, while I was so happy that he would no longer suffer and had taken back control of his life, it was creating tremendous fear and anxiety for me regarding my future. We worked it out... but it was a difficult conversation filled with many tears.
When you learned about your loved one’s incurable illness, you may have had feelings of grief almost immediately. You may have experienced losses and begun to grieve the person’s death before it happened. This is referred to as anticipatory grief.
A medically assisted death has circumstances that may also contribute to anticipatory grief.
Click the arrows below to see what some of the circumstances that may contribute to anticipatory grief:
Planning and knowing the day and time of the death
Changes to timelines
When you or others disagree with the person’s choice
When you or others disagree with the idea of MAiD