Time to Plan: the "UP-side to Anticipatory Grief" - Part II

Michelle Nichols, MS
AHELP Project Director and Co-founder

In anticipation of their passing, the bittersweet hospice period affords you the opportunity to prepare for your friend's gentle decline.


Elizabeth Mooney and "Dipper" smile in a home hospice moment. (Photo: Elizabeth Mooney)

How many of us have had an aging, beloved pet suddenly become much more ill when all we wanted was for them to remain comfortable in their slow decline? Seeking control of their continued well-being and wanting what’s best for them at the time, we urgently seek answers from our vet’s office. Sometimes, the peaceful at-home care is interrupted by having to pack them up for the middle-of-the-night trip to hospital, which you might have been trying to avoid in the first place. If you saw the decline coming, might you have been able to avoid all that?

With careful observation of their condition, you might be able to anticipate a decline that would need urgent care. If your interdisciplinary team of trusted providers can anticipate her condition and then remind you of your plan, it will allow time and the ability to reconsider based upon the increased awareness you’ve developed over the hospice journey. If you want to reconsider, that’s perfectly normal. So what does that look like? Is it realistic at this point in time?

If you don’t opt to reconsider, then the time has come. Outside of panic and under your control, you feel EMPOWERED, and with the support of the AHELP community and those in your interdisciplinary team of providers, you proceed with your plan. With the inner strength that guides you and the peace of knowing you did what felt best for you and your friend, comes enhanced healing through their passing and in the grief that accompanies the loss of their life. 

If you are like so many of the families to whom we may be of service, you’ll likely find that exploring these profound questions allows you to grow from the experience. You’ll likely reach acceptance before your friend’s transition and you may emerge from the ashes a new person.

This journey follows your “Path of Least Regrets.”

AHELP Project can offer you “Comfort and Empowerment in End-of-Life Choices for families and their animal friends.” This provides time to consider choices and thoughtfully laid plans, outside of crisis during the bittersweet period of anticipatory grief leading up to their passing. Using this as an opportunity to plan is what makes a hospice approach to care so golden!

Creating a plan is the cornerstone to what we do for families who call on us through the AHELP Project. Feel free to contact Michelle at [email protected] if you have any questions.

In our next blog post, AHELP Project Board Member Tracy Campion, Seattle Pets Examiner columnist, will discuss her journey to a peaceful euthanasia for her senior horse, Misty, based upon her “path of least regrets” that she created with our support.

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