It said Anticipatory Grief in big bold text, and stopped me in mid-scroll.
I stared at my screen, intrigued and wondering who the words were meant for.
It had been a rough day. I was experiencing quaran-fatigue (see what I did there? You did. I know you did.)
I was actually looking to see what kind of help, encouragement, or coping tools were floating around the interwebs. The positive parts of online community showed that people were reaching out, checking in, and trying to cheer each other on. I drank it in.
But I was struck with a sense of curiosity when I saw the graphic that said in crisp black lettering, “Anticipatory Grief.”
It was a post created by a prominent mental health organization. And it was meant to educate the public on what they might be feeling during this crisis through Covid19.
Apparently there is an actual scientific name for when we begin to mourn the loss of something before it’s actually gone. More specifically, when we build an expectation to mourn. When we aren’t even sure what that loss will be yet. A giving up before we even get started.
It’s called Anticipatory Grief and they wanted you to know that if you haven’t felt it yet, you will. Well, geez, that’s cozy. But on the other hand, I get it. We’ve already lost a lot. And we aren’t out the other side yet.
And then they went on to tell you that it’s normal, and common in events like this. Uh huh, check-a-roonie. Next there followed three ways to live with this feeling a little easier. The best ways to tolerate it.
Wait. Back it up, friend. What’s this now?
That’s when my sense of curiousity was swapped with alarm.
Tolerate? Living with?
Where were the top three ways to transition out of your growing sense of doom? What happened to a list of things to counteract the depths of despair? How to move on? They were going to help you fix it, weren’t they?
And hey, don’t misunderstand me. Sometimes you need a minute or a few to feel all the feelings. There’s something healthy in acknowleding that thing hanging over you. Fear, pain, doubt, exhaustion, etc. You see it, process it, and then move through it.
But live in it? Now I was experiencing anticipatory grief.
And it had nothing to do with not knowing how many days it would be before I’d ever need make-up again. Or a calendar. I mean, what is time?
No, I’m really asking. I’ve forgotten.
One Word Can Change Everthing
I mulled it over all week long. Anticipatory grief.
It’s healthy and right to grieve. However, it’s probably not healthy to make it a lifestyle choice. Or to anticipate it before it’s time. We carry enough on our shoulders, do we not?
And yes, our circumstances might warrant a time of mourning. Even God doesn’t begrudge us that. His Word says there is a time for everything under the sun.
A time to weep, a time to laugh.Sample verses, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Time to mourn, a time to dance.
A time to gain, and a time to lose.
I love that whole section of scripture actually because it highlights a critical need our Creator has placed within us.
A need for balance. And hey, I don’t blame that health organization for not knowing how to apply balance to something so obviously broken within us, that we’d need something supernatural to tip the scales.
But God knew. Scripture is full to the brim with ways that He is always faithful to supply. And He gives us a word we can swap out grief with.
With one word, we change our trajectory.
That word is Hope.
In fact, let’s call it Anticipatory Hope, shall we?
But even more than that, it’s about Who we have an anticipatory hope in.
If Anticipatory Grief is defined as discomfort we feel at a future that seems uncertain;mchristineduncan.com
then Anticipatory Hope is the security we feel when we already know Who holds that future.
What Am I Anticipating?
I’m anticipating His presence in all the things. He’ll see us through this.
Because He’s a God who sees things through.
He is not a God who fails.
You need only peer inside the empty tomb to know. The One who can conquer death itself is not asleep on the job.
If it feels like Friday, it’s because Sunday’s coming.
Let’s see a show of hands! Who’s anticipating the One who still moves stones? If we have to anticipate something, let’s wait on the One we call our Living Hope.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
So hey, what did I learn in all this? That I can acknowledge some days it’s going to be hard. But I then when I do, I can arm myself with amazing hope, knowing He’s already orchestrating a victory.
Anticipatory grief might be along for the ride. But it’s going to have to sit in the back seat.
Hope’s taking over.
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