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Grief: a normal and natural internal reaction to a loss of any kind. Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.

The only thing that isn't normal about grief is how our society responds to it. We are a grief and death denying society. We avoid talking about grief and yet if left unacknowledged, can turn our lives upside down. People may develop addictions, relationship difficulties,  depression, anxiety, panic attacks and more when grief is left unresolved.  In our world of instant messaging, fast food and speed dating, we often wish or pretend that we can do "speed grief." However it isn't possible and we must go through the pain in order to grow and heal. 
"We can endure much more than we think we can; all human experience testifies to that. All we need to do is learn not to be afraid of pain. Grit your teeth and let it hurt. Don't deny it, don't be overwhelmed by it. It will not last forever.  One day, the pain will be gone and you will still be there. - Harold Kushner, When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough 
There is no hierarchy of grief
"Every loss is unique. The truth is, the worst loss is the one that is happening to you, the one that has picked you up and thrown you down and left you struggling to put your life back together." - Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn, author of The Empty Room: Surviving the Loss of a Brother or Sister at Any Age
"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." C.S. Lewis, famous writer

Disenfranchised Grief

 (coined by Ken Doka in 1987, professor at The College of New Rochelle and senior consultant to the Hospice Foundation of America)

What types of losses are disenfranchised or unacknowledged?

  • The relationship is not recognized (closeness of non-kin relationships, lovers, friends, co-workers, classmates, in-laws, foster parents, step parents, neighbors, colleagues, step children, caregivers, counselors, and roommates in college or nursing home). Also non-traditional relationships such as extramarital affairs, cohabitation of unmarried people and homosexual relationships, ex-spouses, past lovers, former friends. All of these relationships could or should cause grief reactions.
  • The loss is not acknowledged.
  • The griever is excluded (person is socially defined as incapable of grief), so there is little or no social recognition of his or her sense of loss or need to mourn. Both the very old and the very young are typically perceived by others as having the capacity to grieve. Also people with developmental disabilities or mental illnesses may also be disenfranchised in grief. Although studies show that these people do understand the concept of death, and experience grief, often these reactions are not perceived by others.
Quotes on Grief 
  • "Don't let anyone take your grief away from you. You deserve it, and you must have it." - Doug Manning, Don't Take My Grief Away
  • "Our grief lives with us long as we live...by the very act of weaving our losses into that tapestry, we ensure that our losses are part of our wholeness." - Deborah Morris Coryell, Healing Through the Shadow of Loss
  • "There are two great questions: Where do you hurt? How can I help you?" - Edwin Shneidman
  • "Yet some people emerge from their grieving process with unexpected gains. By weathering emotional tribulations they had thought unendurable, they have a deeper, surer sense of their strength. By facing despair, and not succumbing, they know their inner capacities in a more complete way. These gains do not in any way diminish the facts of the loss. But, yes, are benefits. Dearly purchased, hard-earned benefits." - Steve Schwartzberg
  • "There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you." - Maya Angelou  

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