disenfranchised bereavement

Disenfranchised Grief

Silent Suffering Hidden From Society

Disenfranchised grief: a term to describe grief not known or acknowledged by society

There are millions of people in the UK suffering in silence and shouldering their grief, without an outlet. Sufferers of disenfranchised grief feel friends, family and society cannot relate to or are not even aware of their suffering.

Unfortunately, for people unable to talk about their grieving, disenfranchised grief often leads to larger, more complex and long-lasting impacts to people’s mental wellbeing. If people do not have an outlet for their grief, they are often unable to move past it, and this has led some people to difficulty sleeping, anxiety attacks, mood-swings, depression and even self-harm.

Examples of disenfranchised grievers include people who have lost pets or secret-lovers; people experiencing stress or even bullying at work; people facing financial difficulties who feel they have to hide these from their family. Essentially it affects people who are too ashamed to share their grief, often because of society’s view that their loss is not significant.

Libby Seery, from Renaissance Life Therapies, has seen the impacts of leaving disenfranchised grieving people alone. She herself silently suffered, when personal circumstances forced her to relocate hundreds of miles. In Libby’s line of work, having been an integrative practitioner in counselling and therapy for many years, she speaks to many clients suffering disenfranchised grief.

Recently, Libby was invited to deliver a talk over Skype to doctors seeking to strengthen the support they can offer. She explained to them the dos and don’ts of disenfranchised grief, setting out a framework approach for them to help support their patients.

So what can be done for suffers of disenfranchised bereavement? Libby urges sufferers and people who believe a person they’re close with who is silently suffering to talk about their grief.

Providing an outlet for grief within the first 24 hours is critical. She has seen the sooner people are able to offload their feelings, the faster and more effective the healing process.

Whilst not all GPs may fully understand the signs and consequences of grief, they may know other support services that can help. For doctors, Libby recommends practising getting patients to fill out a small support-network postcode. This empowering approach sees patients fill in names and contacts of their supportive friends and family and, with the doctor’s help, local support agencies.

For the wider world, Libby and other therapists hope society will understand: a loss is a loss. Society shouldn’t judge or compare people’s losses to one another; nor should it put timeframes or pressure on people to recover faster than they’re able to.

Those who feel they may be grieving in silence and believe that disenfranchised grief has grown into a monster unable to be rectified or tamed by those close family members, must seek professional help. Renaissance Life Therapies offer in-person and Skype/telephone bereavement counselling and a host of other therapy, counselling and life-coaching services around-the-clock and 365 days a year. To find out more please see their website: www.renaissancelifetherapies.com/


Issued by Palaver Maven. Please direct press enquiries to Laura Barnes. email: laura@palavermaven.co.uk or Tel: 07729263818