Tell Me More About Disenfranchised Grief

I had to create a folder in my email of “Articles I Want to Read” and slowly have been getting through some of them. I came across a great article on disenfranchised grief, from What’s Your Grief, which you can find here. If you are asking what is disenfranchised grief, it is a great question! Many people do not know because it is not talked about enough. The author of this article delivers a good explanation on what disenfranchised grief is and then provides 64 examples of types of death that are considered disenfranchised.  People have come into my office who are experiencing a grief as disenfranchised, but do not understand why family or friends who also experienced the loss are “not having as hard of a time.” Loss is a very personal experience regardless if several people experienced the same loss. For example say in the Jones family, the grandmother died. The daughter, granddaughter, husband, niece, sister, and family friend are all going to have different experiences in processing their grief. Sometimes the experience is so different or unable to be grieved for properly, that it can become complicated.  Additionally, some losses also have stigma around them and society’s acceptance of the loss can impact the opportunity for the survivor to grieve the loss properly such as suicide, pregnancy loss, or pet loss.

Often people who are grieving or even people who are attempting to support a griever want a rule book on how things are going to go, how to act, when someone will “feel better,” Or the one that really gets me frustrated, “get over it.” The experience really is subjective and different for everyone and it is sad that it is the expectation of society that a person is supposed to just “get over their loss.” As I read through the list, I thought of many past and current clients, family members, co-workers, and friends. It is amazing how common these experiences are in one way, but are so isolating, lonely, and devastating in another way. Take a look and imagine some compassion for all these grievers and even yourself with your own losses that may or may not have been disenfranchised. 

  • K Calnan

    As someone who has experience multiple losses in a short period of time it can be easy to feel like you are burdening people with your grief. It’s hard not to feel as if there is a grief quota and you have jumped over it. I am very fortunate to have such a wonderful support system in my family and friends, but I can relate to the frustration not only of others thinking you should just get over it, but of internal thoughts where you tell yourself you are maxed out on grief and to get over it.

    1. ksmith515

      Thanks for sharing. There is no definitive path in how to experience one’s grief, especially with a succession of losses. After reading your comments, I envision a future post including what is actually helpful to others who are grieving.

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