Examples of Disenfranchised Grief

Disenfranchised grief is much more common that you might realise. Our examples will help you to understand just how many different situations in life can lead to grief. We hope it may lead to everyone having a lot more empathy for those who may be coping with a grief that we may not fully grasp, but which is nevertheless, very real. 

First of all, let's just explain: 

What is Disenfranchised Grief? 

As well as grief for someone who has died or disappeared, there are many other losses in life which can cause serious emotions of grief.

People often don’t realise that you are suffering from grief in these situations, and this is sometimes referred to as disenfranchised grief. We have many pages covering examples of these types of grief below. 

Human beings are very complex, and our relationships are as never simple and straightforward as we like to believe.  Most of us hide, deny, repress or distort our emotions to avoid our own pain and grief, therefore we are unable to hold space to allow others to express theirs. It is perhaps not surprising then, that often we experience grief which others don't understand and for which we get no sympathy. We all fail to acknowledge and accept grief in its entirety.

Kenneth J Doka has this excellent definition:  "I define disenfranchised grief as grief that results when a person experiences a significant loss and the resultant grief is not openly acknowledged, socially validated, or publicly mourned. In short, although the individual is experiencing a grief reaction, there is no social recognition that the person has a right to grieve or a claim for social sympathy or support." in this paper for the American Psychological Association. 

All of the below are examples of disenfranchised grief. The shock and pain can be as severe as any other types of grief. 

Examples of disenfranchised grief might be:

Divorce or separation

Death of an Ex-Spouse


Couple Break Up and the Grief it Causes

Grieving Someone Who Hurt You

Lack of fertility

Birth Mother Grief - When You Have to Give up a Child for Adoption

Adoption Discovery - When You Discover You Were Adopted



Loss of a Home

Empty Nest Syndrome - When the Children Leave Home

Empty Nest Divorce

Job Loss

Job loss due to disability or illness

Coping with Chronic Illness

Having a disabled child

Living with Chronic Sorrow

Loss of health or loss of a limb

Loss of a pet

Loss of first love

Celebrity deaths - grieving over a famous person

Major disasters – even if we didn’t know anyone involved – such as the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack.

Recommended Reads: 

Where to get help: 

Have You Considered One-on-One Online Grief Counseling? 

Get Expert and Effective Help in the Comfort of Your Own Home

The following information about online counseling is sponsored by 'Betterhelp' but all the opinions are our own. To be upfront, we do receive a commission when you sign up with 'Betterhelp', but we have total faith in their expertise and would never recommend something we didn't completely approve.  

Do you feel alone and sad with no support and no idea how to move forward?  It can be tough when you are stuck in grief to find the motivation to get the most out of your precious life. 

Online counseling can help by giving you that support so you don't feel so alone. You can have someone to talk to anytime you like, a kind and understanding person who will help you to find meaning in life again, to treasure the memories of your loved one without being overwhelmed and to enjoy your activities, family and friends again.

  • Simply fill out the online questionnaire and you will be assigned the expert grief counselor most suitable for you.  It only takes a few minutes and you don't even have to use your name.  
  • Pay an affordable FLAT FEE FOR UNLIMITED SESSIONS.  
  • Contact your counselor whenever you like by chat, messaging, video or phone. 
  • You can change counselor at any time if you wish.
  • Click here to find out more and get started immediately.
  • Or read more about how online counseling works here.  
Woman Crying. Get Started with Online Counselling

Sales from our pages result in a small commission to us which helps us to continue our work supporting the grieving.  

Hypnosis for Grief - 10 Ways It Can Help You

Try a gentle hypnotherapy track to relax the mind. Learn how self-hypnosis can help you cope with grief at any time of the day or night.  

Read more about it here. 

For Remembrance: 

Sales from our pages result in a small commission to us which helps us to continue our work supporting the grieving.  

Heart Shaped Sterling Silver Pendant for Cremation Ashes, Engraved Forever Loved

Memorial Jewelry to Honour a Loved One

Check out our lovely range of memorial jewelry for any lost loved one.  Pendants, necklaces, rings or bracelets, we have them all in all kinds of styles.  Choose for yourself or buy as a sympathy gift. 

Click here to see our selection

Create an Online Memorial Website

Honour your loved one with their own memorial website.  Share photos, videos, memories and more with your family and friends in a permanent online website.  Free for basic plan with no ads. 

Find out more here. 

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Our free downloadable and printable document "The 10 Most Important Things You Can Do To Survive Your Grief And Get On With Life" will help you to be positive day to day.  

The 10 points are laid out like a poem on two pretty pages which you can pin on your fridge door to help you every day! 

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