When coping with the loss of a loved one, “grief” is a very broad term. There are many different types of grief, such as anticipatory grief, delayed grief, and a not commonly discussed type of grief: disenfranchised grief.
So what exactly is disenfranchised grief and how can you cope?
What Is Disenfranchised Grief?
To put it simply, disenfranchised grief is when others don’t properly acknowledge your grief, like when someone is grieving the loss of a non-immediate family member. For example, someone who is grieving the loss of their cousin may not feel they’re getting the support they need. The focus may be on the grieving parents and siblings, so the cousin may feel alone in their grief. Check out this article for a list of more examples.
Disenfranchised grief also can be related to secondary loss. Secondary losses are other losses that come with losing a loved one, such as losing your home or role as a spouse or parent. These secondary losses may go unnoticed by others, so the griever isn’t receiving support.
How Does It Affect the Grieving Process?
People coping with disenfranchised grief may experience more grief symptoms. They also may have intensified grief symptoms if they feel like they can’t openly express their grief. If they don’t feel support from their community, they may isolate themselves and not attend social events. While it’s typical for those who are grieving to refrain from social events for a while, it isn’t healthy if you aren’t attending because you don’t feel supported by others.
What Are Some Healthy Ways to Grieve?
With disenfranchised grief, it’s important you acknowledge your loss and know that your grief isn’t any less important than others. You’re not alone in your grief, and there several healthy ways you can grieve your loss, such as:
- Creating your own grieving ritual or personalized memento, such as making your loved one’s favorite dish or making a memorial scrapbook.
- Trying new hobbies for expressing your grief, such as painting or writing in a grief journal.
- Finding a support system, whether it’s family, friends, a significant other, or a professional counselor.
Remember to be patient with your grief, and don’t forget to practice self-care as you grieve your loss.
How Can You Show Your Support?
It’s important to show your loved one support when they’re grieving a loss and possibly coping with disenfranchised grief.
Below are a few simple, yet meaningful ways to show you care and recognize their loss:
- Be there for them and listen to them if they want to talk about their loved one or their grief.
- Still invite them to social gatherings with the understanding that they might not be ready.
- Help them organize a remembrance event like a dinner or help them make a meaningful memento to remember their loved one by.
What are some other ways you can support someone who is coping with disenfranchised grief? Share your suggestions with us in the comments!