Anticipatory Grief and How to help your Clients

bereaved client Apr 03, 2022

How many of your current clients are experiencing:

  • A critical health diagnosis? 
  • A long term illness? 
  • Caregiving for a family member?  
  • A stressful life transition?

The sad reality is that many of your clients are facing difficult transitions now and in the future. In fact, more people worry about their long term health than running out of money.  When health transitions lead to something more serious, your clients start experiencing grief and loss.  

Anticipatory Grief: the mourning of a loss yet to occur.

The emotions of loss and pain typically begin by imagining what life will be like without a loved one.  This mental rehearsal can manifest in a variety of ways such as sadness, fear, anxiety, guilt, numbness, fatigue and forgetfulness. These signs and symptoms are completely normal.  

Anticipatory grief can lead to a multitude of possible loss such as:

  • Financial impact
  • Career/job implications
  • Future plans or dreams
  • Independence altered
  • Family roles may change
  • Social life affected


Ways you can help:


  • Show care (call or handwritten note)
  • Stay connected (keep reaching out, offer help and reiterate your care)
  • Be a resource if needed (grief support, care-giving, long term care facilities, etc)

Implications for Advisors:  

  • Understand anticipatory grief and what supportive actions to take
  • Develop an equal rapport with clients
  • Nurture the tough conversations now with clients
  • Start scenario planning to understand clients wishes and values.   
  • Bring the family in before a crisis (knowing the family dynamics is helpful)
  • Trust is built in good times and bad

 Advisors who can lead their clients through difficult conversations in transition readiness and death preparedness will be in the best position to support them when it is truly needed.