“Disenfranchised grief” is when your heart is grieving but you can’t talk about or share your pain with others because it is considered unacceptable to others. It’s when you’re sad and miserable and the world doesn’t think you should be, either because you’re not “entitled” or because it isn’t “worth it.”
Your relationship was real, but the family (or members of society) would not or does not approve.
Slight twist on this one. My side of the relationship to my siblings was real. I tried for decades to fit, to be accepted, to do the things they wanted me to do.
It was when I needed them to do something for me, in return, that it all fell apart. And I realized how one-sided the relationship had been, and that I had never really been accepted as a real member of the club (at least not by my sister, who now runs the show).
I am grieving something that I wanted so badly, but which did not really exist.
You aren’t grieving how people expect.
This can happen when the way you are acting in your grief is unsettling or confusing to someone else. If you are “too upset” (Dad’s death) or “not upset enough” (Mom’s death)…
If you’re experiencing any of the above (or something similar), you need to know that you are entitled to your grief. Nobody has the right to take away your grief, and it is their failing — not yours — that makes your grief “unacceptable.”
Disenfranchised grief happens because your love and care for the object of your grief isn’t recognized…
And in certain situations you may be right — not the part about it being your fault (because it isn’t!) — but because there are certain situations where people try to turn their own pain and anguish outward at the nearest convenient target. Or they’re just super-judgmental people.
In any event, it is not your fault — it’s not like any of us can control who or what we care about — and you have a right to your grief, your style of grief or your reason for grief for one reason: because you are grieving.
It is also your right to be comforted, affirmed and validated.
It’s especially painful when… you are the only one in the family experiencing the deep loss.