Curr Health Sci J, vol. 48, no. 3, 2022

Anticipatory Grief in the Families of Patients with Palliative Requiring Metastatic Cancer

[Original Paper]

L. Semenescu(1), A. Dracea(2), D. Zimta(3), A. Crisan(4)

(1)Craiova Municipal Clinical Hospital „Filantropia”, Oncology Clinic,
(2)Department of Biophysics, University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Craiova,
(3)Craiova Municipal Clinical Hospital „Filantropia”, Oncology Clinic,
(4)Department of Oncology, University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Craiova


Background/Aim. When dealing with metastatic cancer patients, family distortions, such as anticipatory mourning, psychiatric and psychosocial disorders may occur. In the case of anticipatory mourning, there exists the risk of the patient being “given up” as if he is already gone, which will only make the patient feel lonely, with numerous problems occurring in the subsequent period of familial mourning. Currently, the importance of identifying the type of mourning affecting families of cancer patients has become more and more clear, as this allows not only for greater therapeutic success, but also avoids a high number of risks and complications that appear during the critical care period. Our paper aims to identify and assess these risk factors in order to contribute to the optimization and success of palliative therapy. Material and Method: We performed this study on a group of 78 subjects with metastatic cancer. We developed a questionnaire in order to assess the patient-family relationship, family profile and the patient’s unique psychological traits, in order to identify potential risk factors. Data processing was performed using Microsoft Excel; the XLSTAT package was used to perform complex statistical tests (?2 test, Spearman correlation coefficient). Results and Conclusions: Women are more prone to fears related to developing cancer themselves. No risk factors leading to the development of significant pathological mourning were identified in our study group. However, the clinician who deals with the treatment of the terminally ill cancer patient will have to include the following objectives related to the relatives in the therapeutic plan: to motivate their involvement, but with the maintenance of a separation in order to maintain the individuality; to keep their realism and to distinguish between normal/pathological mourning.

Mourning, metastatic cancer, grief.

Amelia Dracea, Department of Biophysics, University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Craiova, 2, Petru Rare St, Craiova 200349, e-mail:

DOI 10.12865/CHSJ.48.03.10 - Download PDF