Deprived of the Right to Grieve

Deprived of the Right to Grieve

Deprived of the Right to Grieve (Disenfranchised Grief)

Grief is a complex emotion that can manifest in many different ways.

Grief is seldom an easy process but it’s even more difficult and hard to overcome when the grief is disenfranchised, which can happen when a loss is not socially seen or accepted.

Grief that persons experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, socially sanctioned or publicly mourned”. Ken Doka.

In this dimension of social factors and complicated grief, the loss is not recognized, and the individual and the people close to them behave as though the loss either didn’t occur or that the person grieving doesn’t have the right to grieve.

Disenfranchised grief can be a difficult and lonely experience, and those grieving may not receive the help they require to deal with it. 

Thankfully this type of grief isn’t a common experience for most people, because it can also be one of the most demoralising and painful for the griever.

Here are just a few of many examples of disenfranchised grief:


  • The person grieving is not recognised as being entitled to grieve (ex-husband, ex-wife, partner, or lover in extra-marital affair)
  • Losing a home
  • When the cause of death is suicide or drug overdose (seen by some people as self-inflicted)
  • Death of a pet
  • Infertility
  • Grief that has gone on for an extended period of time (deemed as “too long” by other people)
  • Grieving someone you have never met (online acquaintance or celebrity)
  • Grieving someone who has gone to prison
  • Grief as the result of an abortion
  • Death of a co-worker
  • Grief following a foster child or adopted child being reunited with their biological family
  • The person grieving is judged or assumed to be incapable of grieving (someone with an intellectual disability, or a young child).

In the first instance, it’s important to recognise if you or someone you know are suffering with disenfranchised grief, and, if so, are you aware of the support that’s available to help you to get through this difficult experience.

A lack of compassion, support and validation can complicate the grieving process, which can result in it being more difficult for the person grieving to heal. 

If you or someone you know are in this situation, it might help you to know that the starting point in healing disenfranchised grief is for you to acknowledge your right to grieve this loss.

Do your best to embrace how you’re feeling, and don’t be tempted to bury your feelings. 

Spiritual counselling can be a nurturing and supportive process at this time, and it can also help you to make sense of the experience.

 Remember, you might feel like you’re alone, but you’re not – help is always no more than an arm’s length away.  

You can access spiritual counselling through the Ceremonial Services website. 

A lack of money should never prevent you from seeking the support you need.  Please, don’t hesitate to give us a call, or send us a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. 



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