Disenfranchised Grief

desenfranchised grief no speak

Disenfranchised grief is a sorrow that is not socially or publicly recognized. The reality of your loss is not validated.

It may be restricted by the “bereavement rules” that your culture places on you.

These feelings can come about due to any number of losses. They are often socially uncomfortable for others to talk about.  In some circumstances you may feel your loss is devalued.

A partial list of disenfranchised grief

  • Perinatal loss - the loss of an unborn child
  • Abortion – perhaps most people will not even know this has occurred.
  • A suicide – many times people are so afraid to say the wrong thing, so they don’t say anything!
  • Death from an “unacceptable” reason – again people often just don’t know what to say

                  - A disease like AIDS
                  - A drug overdose

  • Death of an ex-spouse – people likely don’t know how you’re feeling so they afraid to say the wrong thing
  • A pet’s death – some may not recognize how much your pet was a part of your family
  • And still others

You might encounter social stigmas if you don’t mourn according to the social norms. It might appear that you’re grieving seems too short or long.

Also persons who are elderly, very young or mentally disabled may not have their need to grieve recognized. Their sorrow may not look the same, therefore it is not recognized.

Part of healthy bereavement includes having the support of our circle of people; family, friends, co-workers, pastor. Because of the stigma or “invisibility” of the loss this support often is sorely lacking.

We might not be included in the mourning rituals being observed. In the case of perinatal loss there are no rituals that are followed even though you have experienced loss.

We must make sure to allow ourselves to go through the bereavement journey.  It is uncomfortable.  It is hard work.  Sometimes we’d like to avoid the pain, but we need to recognize our sorrow, accept it and work through it.

A person who is experiencing disenfranchised grief could benefit from having someone to talk to.  It could be a trusted friend or family member, clergy or a professional counselor.    

There are also support groups for the many types of bereavement.  Consider finding one that fits your specific need and attending.  There will be people there who will have walked a path similar to yours.

Many people believe grief is something to be overcome rather than experienced. However, we have to experience it in order to work through it.

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Scripture Verse

Our help is the name of the Lord,who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 124:8