Strategies for Preparing and Coping with Imminent Loss

When people talk about managing grief, often this involves grieving for someone who’s already passed. However, there are times when a loved one may be approaching the end of their life, perhaps due to an illness or age. In this situation, some find that they have already begun experiencing aspects of grief.

This can be quite a complex set of emotions. Not to mention that it’s often bundled with the need to support a loved one facing their last days or months. There’ll also be essential administrative duties related to death.

It’s really worth taking a little bit of time to look at some strategies that can help you and your loved one navigate this time. So, we’re going to explore a few methods for coping and preparing to consider.

Communicate Openly

Communication is often difficult when preparing for an imminent loss. You may feel you don’t want to risk upsetting yourCoping with Imminent LossConversation AfterTalk Grief Support loved one by talking too frequently about their passing. At the same time, not being able to express your preemptive grief or discuss some matters could leave you feeling isolated at this challenging time.

Wherever possible, it’s better to prioritize open communication. Apart from anything else, it reduces the potential for arrangements to be left until the last minute or for important things to go unsaid because of the awkwardness or pain of the situation.

Start by openly communicating about communication itself. Talk to your loved one about the difficulties around such conversations and acknowledge how strange, painful, and stressful the subject feels. In all likelihood, they’ll be having tough feelings of their own and might even be avoiding subjects to spare your feelings. Reaching out could help them feel more open to sharing and set this period off on the right footing.

Discuss boundaries around communication with them, too. Ask them what they’re less comfortable talking about or what they find exhausting to discuss. This isn’t about avoiding these topics entirely. Rather, it gives you some insights into when it might be easiest to broach these subjects and time limits to set on hard conversations.

Address Practical Elements Early

With any imminent loss, there’s always a range of practical aspects to discuss. Funeral plans, of course, play a part in this. You’ll need to make arrangements for sharing passwords for essential online accounts. There will also be elements of Coping with Imminent Loss–AfterTalk Grief Supportfinancial administration to cover.

For instance, vehicle loans still apply after someone passes away, with the debt being passed to the estate. It’s important to examine the paperwork for the terms of the car loan debt clause so you can arrange appropriate repayments that prevent repossession. These things may feel insignificant given the gravity of the situation, but taking care of them reduces stress for everyone.

This is why it’s so important to handle these practical elements as early as possible. The last thing you want is to have a lot of incomplete administration to handle alongside managing your own grief.

Most vital of all, getting all these ducks in a row sooner frees up the rest of your time with your loved one. Neither you nor they need to worry that there are outstanding chores to perform or admin to tackle. Instead, you can focus on connecting meaningfully with one another in the time you have remaining together. Indeed, this gives you space to share any bucket list experiences they want to pursue.

So, start by making a comprehensive list together. Make a schedule for taking care of each point on the list. Don’t overwhelm them or yourself by trying to cram all the tasks into a single session. It’s kinder to everyone involved to take breaks from the stress of admin.

Keep Them Meaningfully Involved

An imminent death can bring with it a sense of powerlessness for you and your loved one. Many people cope with this by keeping themselves busy with handling arrangements. Indeed, you may feel as though you’re taking some of the load off of your loved one by taking care of the preparations for them.

Yet, while this is well-intended, you don’t want to run the risk of removing their agency. They might feel they’re being subjected to the experience of an imminent death. Keeping them involved with preparations may be a powerful influence on their quality of life in the time remaining.

One great task to share is making arrangements for their personal belongings. Talk about who they would like to pass moreCoping with Imminent LossAfterTalk Grief Support meaningful items to. For less important belongings, decluttering unwanted items by donating them can be a rewarding experience. Apart from anything else, your loved one gets the satisfaction of knowing their belongings will get a second life and benefit a worthy cause. Discuss what charities are meaningful to them, so you can arrange a collection later.

Another key area of involvement could be to organize family photos and other mementos. Often, creating a scrapbook of important keepsakes is excellent as a cathartic legacy activity. Yet, involving your loved one in this process can be enriching for everyone. If they are open to the idea, make it a family activity that gives your loved one a chance to tell the stories of the photos and pass on experiences to other generations.

However, it’s vital for everyone to remember that this can stir powerful emotions. Give each member of the family space to express their emotions. Offer mutual comfort and support, and most of all, treat it as a positive way to spend time together.


An imminent loss brings with it a combination of complex feelings of grief and administrative duties. It’s important to take an approach to this that honors both the needs of your loved one and yourself. Vitally, keeping everyone communicating and involved in the process is a respectful and — above all else — kind approach at a difficult time. There are no strict rules or solutions here, though. The preemptive grief journey is often individual to each person. Treat yourself and your loved ones gently and seek activities that have positive impacts on everyone concerned.


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