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It’s a cliche about us all being different, but it’s true. This can apply to any of our behaviour, including how we grieve. However, possibly one of the most helpful things that anyone who is grieving may want from those around them, is empathy. The difference between empathy and sympathy is illustrated in this short video by Brene Brown:
Many of us find it difficult to talk about death, and to spend time with someone who is bereaved, not knowing quite what to say. However, if we are grieving, it is helpful if those around us can understand, or at least accept how we are feeling, even if they don’t feel the same way themselves.
When we find ourselves grieving, but that our grief is not recognised, accepted, or even allowed by those around us – it is referred to as ‘disenfranchised grief‘.
We might find that those around us don’t offer to comfort us with a hug or talking to us, or that they may even walk away from us when we start to cry. If you try to talk about how you are feeling, or about the being who has died, they may try to change the subject, tune out, or again, walk away.
They may also try to tell you that they know how you feel, and that you need to stop grieving and get back to normal. Disenfranchised grief is when your grief is not taken seriously, or not recognised by someone else – whether it is someone thinking that you’ve grieved enough and need to stop, or whether they just feel that you should not be grieving at all. It is grief that is not acknowledged by those around you.
It can feel very isolating, and result in you wondering why you are feeling so upset – leading to confusion and thinking that there is something wrong with you from grieving so much – when those around you are implying or telling you that you shouldn’t be grieving.
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