Disenfranchised grief is where I want to camp out for a while. A person experiencing this type of grief is grieving a loss that society doesn't recognize or that isn't really talked about publicly. How often does this happen in one of your books, you ask? It's actually astounding how common it is.
Examples: miscarriage, abortion, suicide, death from drug overdose or AIDS, death of an ex-spouse, death of a pet.
Think about it. When someone you know goes through a miscarriage, people in general don't make "as big a deal" about it as they would if the baby had died hours after being born or even been born stillborn. Somehow the loss is "less." The stigma connected to these losses almost veils the loss in obscurity.
Same with a suicide or drug overdose or AIDS-related death. Parents and friends who experience these sorts of losses usually feel stifled in their grief--unable to find appropriate outlets--because somehow, the actions of the deceased and society's view of those actions give the grievers some warped sense that their loss is somehow "less," invisible.
Don't get me started on the death of a pet. If you haven't seen Marley & Me, I suggest you do so. Spoiler alert notwithstanding, the death of a pet should be grieved! They are part of the family! I always counsel parents to hold a funeral and allow the children time to say final words/goodbyes. That loss is critical, and most children experience it at some point in their childhood. If this happens in one of your books, recognize the need to grieve and express that grief appropriately! Or be mean and don't, but allow the character to work through it later some other way.
Next week we'll cover the last remaining types of grief, Absent, Delayed, and Inhibited. See you then!
Q4U: What other examples of disenfranchised grief can you think of to add to my list?
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