What is disenfranchised grief?
Disenfranchised grief is grief that is treated differently by society than traditional grief experienced after the death of a loved one.
Grief is the human reaction to loss. Grief involves a constellation of physical, psychological and emotional symptoms that can be quite disruptive and unpleasant.
Grief is process that helps people accept and adjust to a loss, so they can once again embrace life and experience joy. Even when their loss is permanent, their grief is temporary. And one element that helps the bereaved through their grief is the support of friends and family.
If someone's loss is not acknowledged by others as needing or worthy of support, the grief process may be delayed or interrupted.
Some examples of disenfranchised grief include grief after the death of an unborn child or newborn, celebrity or pet. In 2007, a cartoon character, Lisa, died in the Funky Winkerbean cartoon strip. Many regular followers of the column reportedly grieved the death of this fictional character.
Other examples include grief over the loss of a home, job, role, hope or opportunity.
Enfranchised grief can become disenfranchised if it follows a pattern considered unacceptable by society, say, if someone seems stuck in his or her grief following the loss of a child.
Healthy Survivors recognize grief as a temporary, healing process that helps them make the transition to life after loss. Healthy Survivors find and reach out to others who respect their loss and are willing to help them through.