It saddens me hat this kind of invisible and ignored grief even exists.
But since it is rampant in our culture,
I want to name and explain it.
You might already know what I’m talking about.
“Disenfranchised grief refers to grief experiences
not openly acknowledged,
or publicly mourned”1
Here are some examples:
- The relationship isn’t recognized or validated (friend, co-worker, your ex, same-sex partner, lover, aged parent, teacher, celebrity, etc.)
- The bereaved person isn’t recognized (children, people with developmental disabilities, elderly with dementia, people incarcerated, etc.)
- Pregnancy loss, stillbirth, infant death.
- The stigma of mental illness, AIDS, alcoholism or drug addiction
- Pet loss
Unfortunately, silence usually surrounds these kinds of deaths.
People might want to say something, but they don’t know what to say.
Or they are oblivious and say an insensitive thing to you.
There can also be pressure when well-meaning friends or family
attempt to put a time limit on your right to grieve.
This can lead to feelings of shame.
You wonder if there’s something wrong with you.
If your loss falls into one of the categories listed above,
please know that your grief is real and deserves support.
Your grief is normal and natural.
You can trust your feelings of sorrow.
As for shame?
It doesn’t belong to you.
If you need some help
breaking free of shame
and cultural silence,
please contact me:
1“GriefWork: Healing from Loss, by Fran Zamore & Ester Leutenberg, p.11