Defining Disenfranchised Grief and How to Cope with It

Posted by: Erin Ward in Grief and Guidance | July 9, 2021

Grieving the loss of a loved one comes in many different forms, as there are many different types of grief. One type of grief that’s often forgotten about is disenfranchised grief.

Keep reading to learn more about this grief type, how to find healthy ways to cope with it, and how to show your support.

Defining Disenfranchised Grief

When someone doesn’t support or acknowledge your grief, this is called disenfranchised grief. Oftentimes, this can be when you're grieving the loss of a non-immediate family member, such as an aunt or uncle. If all the support is being given to the immediate family members, then the nieces and nephews might feel neglected and alone. It also can refer to secondary losses, like losing your role as a niece or nephew.

Coping with Disenfranchised Grief

If someone is coping with disenfranchised grief, it can make grief symptoms more intense and overwhelming. You also might not attend social events because you don’t feel supported by others.

Some healthy ways to cope with disenfranchised grief are to create a meaningful memento, start a new hobby, do an activity that your loved one enjoyed, and find people who support you and your grief. It can be a family member, friend, significant other, or a professional grief counselor.

How to Support Someone Coping with Disenfranchised Grief

If you know someone coping with disenfranchised grief, the best thing you can do is show your support and be there for them. Some ways you can do this are listening to them talk about their grief and their loved one, inviting them to social events (but don’t take it personally if they aren’t ready), and offering to help organize a memorial event or make a memento to honor their loved one.

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