(02) 6043 1232 kate@jesmry.com.au

The silence grief, disenfranchised grief!

Have you ever experienced deep emotional pain from a change or loss that feels silenced, because it feels unsafe or unacceptable to be spoken about as it is not acknowledged or recognized?

When grief cannot be openly acknowledged, socially supported or socially mourned it is defined by Kenneth Doka PhD as disenfranchised grief (Doka, 1999). Disenfranchised grief occurs when one feels that their grief is not acknowledged by family, friends and/or community and they feel unsupported, alone, silenced. This can intensify suffering (Australian Centre for Grief and bereavement, 2015). Doka adds that this isolated grief is a much more difficult and complicated (Doka, 1999). 

Some examples of disenfranchised grief are;

  • Loss through estrangement from family
  • Loss of close relationship with a family member because of their severe mental health
  • Loss of desired closeness with family member/s
  • Loss when it is discovered that a loved one is not really how they present themselves to be
  • Loss because of betrayal
  • Loss because of life threatening illness for self, partner or close family member
  • Loss of physical health for self and/or partner, family member
  • Loss of relationship when the individual is still living
  • Loss of a loved one by separation and divorce
  • Loss of a same sex partner through separation or death
  • Loss from miscarriage or stillbirth when experienced for oneself, partner or family member
  • Infertility for self and/or partner, family member
  • Loss of a loved one by a stigmatised death e.g. HIV
  • Gradual, prolonged loss of a loved one diagnosed with e.g. Dementia, Alzheimer’s
  • Loss because of suicide, overdose, murder
  • Loss because of imprisonment for self or a loved one
  • Loss because of a partner or family members gambling, drugs, alcohol addictions
  • Loss of home, job, career, role
  • Loss of country of birth, town, community, culture
  • Loss because of redundancy and/or retirement
  • Loss of hopes and dreams
  • Loss of a beloved pet

We all deserve to feel supported in our journey through change, loss, grief and grieving.


Please see the Resource titled Grief and Grieving for more information.





Doka, K., J., (1999). Disenfranchised grief, Bereavement Care, 18:3, 37-39, DOI: 10.1080/02682629908657467

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, (2015, Autumn). Disenfranchised Grief. The Rosemary Branch. Retrieved from https://www.grief.org.au/uploads/uploads/Rosemary-Branch-Autumn-2015.pdf