Grieving Unrecognized Losses: Disenfranchised Grief

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Disenfranchised Grief

by Lona Bailey, Refuge Center Intern

Loss: it is central to the human experience. It is something we all go through at various times in our lives in some form. The loss spectrum is extensive and can range from course-altering incidents such as the untimely death of a spouse, to less recognized events such as a good friend moving away. Any type of loss, regardless of severity in the eyes of others, can cause wounds that require intentional care.

The term “disenfranchised grief” was coined by Dr. Kenneth Doka to describe socially unrecognized losses- those incidents where we experience unwanted change that causes pain and mixed emotions, yet are not widely understood or accepted by others (Wright, 2011). Life events such as the death of a pet, the loss of a job, or a close friend moving away sometimes do not evoke a high level sympathy in others because the events are not viewed as “significant” or “typical” losses by society’s standards.

If you have suffered a loss that you feel others do not understand or have written off as “no big deal,” yet it is still very real, and very painful to you, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • First, no two people experience loss in the same way. Therefore, any loss that you may experience is valid and worthy of a healthy grieving process.
  • Second, remember to be patient with yourself as you work through all the feelings associated with your recent loss- there is no stopwatch on your grieving process, so take the appropriate amount of time you need. 
  • Third, remember, take one day at a time.
  • Fourth, The Refuge Center for Counseling is always available as a resource to help support you through any loss you may have experienced. The Refuge Center views all losses as significant and wants to partner with you as you navigate through your grief. To schedule an appointment with one of our counselors, please contact us at: 615-591-5262.

 

Reference
Wright, H. N. (2011). The complete guide to crisis and trauma counseling: What to do and say when it matters most!.Ventura, CA: Regal Books.

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