When someone you love dies, friends and family usually gather to offer comfort. They may cook for you or offer to do errands. But after several weeks go by, it may seem as though others have forgotten about your loss. You don’t want to be a burden and so you don’t talk about your feelings to anyone and try to appear as if you have recovered. You are now dealing with disenfranchised grief. What that means is that society no longer acknowledges your grief.
There are many types of grief that are often not acknowledged:
- Grief from a miscarriage
- Grief from an abortion
- Death of a pet.
- The death of an ex. People assume that because the person lost is an “ex,” there is no longer any relationship to grieve.
- Grief from “invisible” or misunderstood illnesses such as depression or even cancer. “You look so healthy!”
- Grief over the slow loss of someone who has dementia.
- Grief over a failed marriage or relationship. “It’s about time! They were always fighting!”
- Grief over the illness or death of a gay person’s partner. Often these relationships are not looked upon as having the same importance or validity as heterosexual relationships.
- Grief over a death that feels shameful, for example from suicide or AIDS.
- Grief of an adult child who has lost an elderly parent. Often the remaining spouse is the sole focus of attention.
- Grief over the loss of a bodily function, for example, failing eyesight or loss of muscular strength.
- Grief from the death of an adult sibling. This loss is often not given the same importance as the death of a spouse or parent.
- Grief over the death of a child, no matter the age. This can be so frightening to others that they disconnect from the mourner, saying “I just didn’t know what to say.”
How can I cope?
Remember, you’ve suffered a loss. Your feelings are valid and important.
You can learn different ways to soothe yourself to help with the most painful moments. Take a walk outside or in a mall. Go to the library and look at magazines. Learn how to practice Mindfulness Meditation.
Sometimes you just need to let yourself rest. Lie on the couch and take a nap. Listen to soothing music. Or find a good movie to watch on TV.
You can ask your doctor or mental health practitioner for help.
And finally, keep in mind that though your life has been changed by your loss, eventually the intensity of the pain will diminish.