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Disenfranchised grief is a term describing grief that is not acknowledged by society. Examples of events leading to disenfranchised grief are the loss of a pet, an aborted/miscarried pregnancy, a mother's loss or surrender of a child to adoption, the death of a celebrity, or even a fictional character. This is compared to more traditional forms of grief, such as loss of a spouse, parent, or child. Traditional forms of grief are more heavily recognized even in nontraditional living situations.

Disenfranchised grief, when legitimate, can create problems with bereavement leave with work. There are few support systems, traditions, or institutions; which normally help the grieving process.

Even enfranchised grief can become disenfranchised when a time limit is set upon it. The need to regulate mourning and restore a state of normal work activity severely impacted the grieving process of victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, according to Edward Linenthal. Grieving for lost children was redefined as post-traumatic stress disorder if parents were not "over it" within two weeks. [1]

See Also


  1. Linenthal, Edward, The Unfinished Bombing, Oklahoma City in American Memory (Oxford Univ. Press, 2001), pp. 94-98.

Kenneth J. Doka, editor. Disenfranchised Grief: Recognizing Hidden Sorrow Lexington Books, 1989.

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