Category Archives: Family

Grief That Doesn’t Fit In: Part 1

Grief That Doesn’t Fit In: Part 1

There are tons of books, podcasts, shows, and blogs that address the topic of grief. Everyone experiences grief at some point in their life. It is the emotion that results when something or someone important to you is no longer in your life.

Mourning is what happens when grief goes public.

It’s the process that needs to occur in order to deal with the emotion of grief. Sharing grief is one of the most effective ways to begin mourning, but there are times when it is not or cannot be shared by others.

Disenfranchised grief is the category that covers grief that doesn’t have a socially accepted place to be recognized or expressed.

Basically, it is the “ugly duckling” grief that people feel they have to hide because others won’t understand it, will dismiss it as trivial, or may actually get angry about. Sometimes, grief becomes disenfranchised when well-meaning, loving people try to encourage. They may minimize your experience or its significance, and since you know they love you and are not purposely hurting you, that message gets internalized and you do your best to ignore your own experience and feelings.

Many times, we disenfranchise our own grief. We may recognize that we are experiencing grief, but tell ourselves that it isn’t such a big deal, or that we shouldn’t be feeling this way, that we have to suck it up and get over it.

Grief can be disenfranchised or dismissed by our culture at large as well. If all of the messages we hear tell us that what we are feeling is wrong or doesn’t fit into the political landscape, it is unlikely that we will risk sharing and exposing ourselves to judgment or shame.

The whole idea behind disenfranchised grief is that it doesn’t fit into neat groupings.

Anything could fall into this category. It might come from having to move from your home after having lived there for 40 years.  It might be the death of an ex or an estranged parent. It might result from the difficult decision to have an abortion.

People who experience grief that doesn’t have a place for expression suffer alone and in silence, oftentimes for years.

The catch is that grief will work its way to the surface, whether we want it to or not.  It may show up in our ability to connect in an authentic way to others, or in angry outbursts because we don’t have the emotional energy left to respond any other way.  We may become fixated on our loss, unable to incorporate it into our lives in a healthy way because we’ve been robbed of the opportunity to process and openly mourn.

Look for part 2 for a discussion on how to make space to mourn for yourself or others in your life.

Written By: Molly Halbrooks, LAMFT

 

 

Vulnerability Takes Courage

Vulnerability Takes Courage

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” ~ Brene Brown Most people associate the idea of vulnerability with weakness.They want to avoid being vulnerable in any capacity so they are not taken advantage of or hurt. The need to protect oneself is logical. If…

Leaking is a Toxic Behavior Parents should Avoid: Part 1

Leaking is a Toxic Behavior Parents should Avoid: Part 1

What is leaking? Leaking is a term coined by Dr. Patricia Papernow, step-family and post-divorce expert, which describes what parents do and say to blame and/or undermine the other parent in the presence of their children. In my practice, I hear examples of leaking from many parents contemplating a divorce. Parents attempt to justify this…

Complain, but Don’t Criticize

Complain, but Don’t Criticize

If you are in a committed relationship, you are occasionally going to complain about your partner. Valid complaints help us grow and become better partners. But how do you complain without it resulting in a fight? The key is to soften how the complaint is voiced. In Dr. John Gottman’s research, he found that the first…

Recognizing Safe People

Recognizing Safe People

One of our greatest needs is to be fully seen, fully known and fully loved. It’s really tough to do that if you’re not certain that you have anyone safe to share vulnerable moments and your ugliest struggles with. This is all so much more important and difficult if you have recently found out that…

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