Disenfranchised Grief

Disenfranchised Grief

Do you ever feel that you cannot talk about your grief? Have you experienced awkward silence or a change in the subject when you speak about your grief? You may be experiencing disenfranchised grief. For example, you may have heard these – “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.

Disenfranchised grief can be a very sad, isolating, and unfulfilling experience. It applies to both bereavement (death-related grief) and living losses. Worse still, it may lead to losing the courage to speak about what matters to those who are important to you.

Examples of disenfranchised grief

I have provided some examples of disenfranchised grief that apply to death and events that occur across the life-span.

Loss is not a death.

Ageing, incarceration, dementia, divorce, changes in physical or mental health, job loss, relationship ending, unplanned retirement, or traumatic brain injury. Less-discussed examples of disenfranchised grief include being a victim of crime, identity theft, or being a victim of scamming or phishing.

Others do not recognise a relationship.

Ex-partner, same-sex, celebrity death, neighbour, companion animal. It could also be a person known in a professional capacity, such as a doctor or tradesperson.

Mourners may feel the cause of death may be met with disapproval.

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

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 different ways people grieve.

The person might appear to others as having already adjusted to the loss through their actions and behaviours.

Sourced from Doka (2017).

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)

How can Changes in Between help?

I get grief! I’ve got a long-standing interest in the impact of grief from different life experiences. In my life, I was a young widow, and this profoundly affected the direction of my life both during my husband’s illness and following his death. There are other examples of grief, including 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. Disenfranchised grief examples include the death of significant professional people in my life and scamming.

My experience is backed up by extensive training and certification in the field of grief and loss, with dying, death and bereavement and non-death losses. I have an understanding of the complexity of sudden, unexpected and traumatic death with experience working in the coronial jurisdiction as a court registrar and with Grief Australia as a former volunteer Practitioner Associate Specialist Bereavement Counsellor.  Read more about me.

More importantly, I can walk beside you in your grief. You set the lead, your experience, your story. Together, we will honour your loss.

Grief Counselling

Grief counselling can be accessed at any time, whether you are in acute grief from a recent bereavement or a historical one. Processing your grief and providing psycho-education about grief are key to the support offered through grief counselling.

Grief Coaching

When your grief is associated with living losses, you might consider grief coaching to support your actions. I can also provide grief coaching if you are not in acute grief (see counselling) – perhaps you are working through secondary losses associated with the person that you are mourning. Increasing your self-awareness, taking action, and learning are all part of the coaching that aids in rebuilding your life—your next chapter.