Disenfranchised Grief

Disenfranchised Grief

Do you ever feel that you cannot talk about your grief? Do you ever experience awkward silence or a change in the subject when you speak about your grief? You may be experiencing disenfranchised grief. “Just a dog,” “You can have another baby,” and “plenty more fish in the sea” are all examples of responses when your story is missed.

It can be a very sad, isolating, and unfulfilling experience. Worse still, this may lead losing the courage to speak about what matters to those important to you.

Disenfranchised grief explained

When the loss is not a death

Ageing, incarceration, dementia, divorce, changes in physical or mental health, job loss, relationship ending, unplanned retirement, traumatic brain injury.

When the relationship is not recognised by others

Ex-partner, same-sex, celebrity death, neighbour, companion animal.

When the mourner may feel the cause of death may be met with disapproval

Suicide, drug overdose, abortion, driver death under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

When society does not believe you have the right to grieve

Prisoner, the other woman/man, estranged relationships.

When society does not believe that you can grieve

Children, older adults, and people with intellectual disability.

The ways people grieve

They might look to others as having already adjusted to the loss.

Sourced from Doka (2017).

How Changes in Between can help with disenfranchised grief?

I get grief! I have a long-standing interest in the impact of grief from different life experiences. I was a young widow, which had a profound impact on the direction of my life. I have also experienced failed relationships and the ending of friendships, sudden and traumatic deaths of important people in my life, job loss, miscarriage, and death of beloved pets. In addition, I worked in the coronial jurisdiction when I was a court registrar. I understand the complexity of traumatic death.

As a grief counsellor, I work with all forms of grief, including disenfranchised grief. I have had extensive professional and personal experience. This is backed up by many hours of training in the field of grief and loss, including non-death losses. More importantly, I can walk beside you in your grief. You set the lead, your experience, your story. Together we will honour your loss.

Read more about me.

Grief Reactions

“Losses that cannot be openly acknowledged, socially sanctioned, or publicly shared. We experience these losses, but we come to know that we do not have the right to grieve them.”

Kenneth Doka (2017, p. 8)