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Photo: Sander van der Werf (Shutterstock)

Grief is a natural response to loss, from the death of a loved one to the dissolution of a marriage, sudden financial stability or the end of a friendship. During grief, people tend to experience a range of emotions – anything from anger to guilt to sadness – all of which are normal and take time to process.

Regardless of the reason, grief is difficult to process. But a special type of grief known as disenfranchised grief, can prove to be a particular challenge. Disenfranchised grief, also called hidden grief, refers to a loss that is minimized, unrecognized, or misunderstood by others, which can make people feel isolated and alone at a time when they need support most.

“When you believe that someone else can understand the basic emotions you are feeling, grief becomes easier and you feel less isolated,” said Emily Simonian, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Thrive.

Examples of disenfranchised grief include losing a private relationship that others didn’t know existed, such as an LGBTQIA + person who has lost a partner but doesn’t feel safe being outside; a loss that others consider “minor”, ​​such as the death of a pet or a health problem; a loss surrounded by stigma, such as infertility or death from suicide; an exclusion from mourning, e.g. B. the death of an ex-partner; or grief that does not conform to social norms, such as B. Showing anger or throwing yourself into work.

When people either fail to understand a person’s grief or are actively minimizing it, processing those emotions becomes much more difficult and can even cause a person to doubt the validity of their feelings.

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If you or someone you care about is experiencing this type of grief, here are some strategies that can help you:

Know that your emotions are valid

Even if your loss is not well understood by others, it does not make your emotions any less valid. When you are grieving, the first step is to realize that what you are feeling is valid and normal. this is that first step towards healing.

Find others who understand

Even if most people don’t fully understand their grief, there will still be people who do. This can be family and friends who may have an idea of ​​your loss and are willing to listen, or it can be found in the form of local and online support groups with people who may be experiencing a similar loss.

“Having another person’s emotional support helps you feel heard, validated, understood, and maybe even distracted, which can be a necessary coping tool to give yourself a break,” said Simonian.

Track down your grief

Are you apply your grief, does not go away. Whatever loss you are grieving for, try to find a way to recognize your feelings so that you can process them. This can be especially difficult if others don’t understand, or if society doesn’t recognize your grief as valid, but it’s still important to do. Unresolved feelings can come back later.

Create your own ritual to mourn your loss

Rituals help people Find closure. That is why we have funerals – so that we can honor someone’s life and give their loved ones a degree of closure. However, rituals don’t have to be grand or public. If you’re struggling to process your grief, it can help to create your own private ritual, one with personal meaning.

the The right ritual will vary depending on your personal preferences and the nature of your loss, and finding the right one may take a bit of trial and error. Choose a time and place that will give you the time to yourself that you need to feel the full extent of your loss. For example, you can visit a place that either has emotional significance for your loss or offers the peace of mind you need. The important part is spending this time appreciating your loss in every possible way.

Ask for the help you need

Even if your loved ones don’t quite understand it, they should still want to support you. To help them do this, it is important to think about what you need from them and ask about it.

“During this time, try to concentrate on finding out what you want from others,” said Simonian. “Consider allowing others to support you in their own way and share what you specifically need.”