attitude to death, bereavement, family, grief



  1. Kehl, Karen A. MSN, RN, CHPN


Anticipatory mourning is a concept that has been incorporated into common use in healthcare. Anticipatory mourning is a complex, multidimensional, and unconscious process of emotional response to the threat of loss. It shares many characteristics with after-death grief, but differs in form and duration. The research concerning the effects of anticipatory mourning or grief has been contradictory and there is no clear evidence that experiencing anticipatory mourning increases or decreases distress after the death. Interventions for family members and others close to the dying person who are experiencing anticipatory mourning include acceptance, support, and comfort from healthcare professionals, as well as clear communication about the patient's condition and assurance that their family member is receiving the best care possible. Appropriate response to anticipatory mourning has the potential to facilitate appropriate grief work and make the postdeath adjustment period easier for the family. Additional research focusing on measurement and the effect of interventions is needed.