It is true that we cannot change society’s grief rules overnight.
But the good news is that society’s rules, norms, and expectations DO evolve over time and we as grievers play a very real part in that.
Societal rules often dictate that we grieve “blood” relatives and as we get beyond that circle we find lesser acknowledgement of the impact of a death.
It would be impossible to imagine an exhaustive list, but some disenfranchised losses that fall into this category may be: Sometimes the cause of death may make it difficult for the griever to talk about the loss, due to stigma.
On the flip side, you may have a loss that doesn’t fit exactly in one of the categories about, and yet for other reasons your community may make you feel you don’t have the right to grieve.
Again, just some examples are: Though this can overlap with the two categories above, there are times that the relationship during life was a stigmatized relationship.The stinging pain of these societal expectations can be excruciating when a relationship is not acknowledged or the impact of the death is not acknowledged. I may constantly feel the need to hide my grief for fear of making others uncomfortable or being alienated. It is starting to sound like a pretty lonely place, eh?Grief becomes disenfranchised when we don’t have societal validation of our loss and grieving process. This is an incredibly complex topic and if you want to explore it further, Kenneth Doka is the guy to start with.Perhaps a loss you experienced that falls into one of the above categories is feeling uniquely difficult compared to past losses or other people’s losses.Knowing a loss you have suffered falls into one of the above categories may mean you are more likely to feel unable to share your grief, or are feeling less supported and more isolated.