First Advisor

Tina Burdsall

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology and University Honors




Terminally ill -- Services for, Anticipatory grief -- Psychological aspects, Cancer -- Psychological aspects, Cancer -- Social aspects, Cancer -- Treatment, Grief therapy -- Psychological aspects, Self-help groups




Growing evidence suggests that preparedness for death can lead to positive outcomes for the dying and for the bereaved. Preparatory grief, grieving one’s own death before it occurs, is grossly understudied. More research is necessary in order to understand the needs of the dying and to design more effective support systems to meet those needs. Within the next few decades a significant increase in the number of individual’s living with long-term terminal illness and in need of end-of-life care is virtually inevitable. Current support systems may be outdated and thus inappropriate for these individuals.

This thesis reviews relevant literature regarding death, dying, loss, bereavement, preparatory grief, anticipatory grief, and existing social support for people diagnosed with terminal cancer. The research presented lays the foundation for a study intending to measure the impact of current support groups for people with terminal cancer on preparatory grief. Mystakidou’s Preparatory Grief in Advanced Cancer Patients (PGAC) scale could be used to record a baseline of preparatory grief in people diagnosed with terminal cancer before they have sought any kind of support and then used again to longitudinally measure preparatory grief over time.


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