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What is Disenfranchised Grief?

Lisa Zoll, MSW, LCSW

May 7, 2021

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Question

What is disenfranchised grief?

Answer

The term disenfranchised grief was coined by Kenneth Doka, in the late 1980s. Disenfranchised grief is ultimately grief that is unsupported, unrecognized, and unacknowledged. 

Disenfranchised grief is often not appreciated by others, and there is a perceived right to not mourn those losses. In essence, we say that the loss is not openly acknowledged. It is not socially sanctioned and often people do not publicly share those losses because they are embarrassed or they feel like people will minimize them or maybe even gloss over them. Basically it is seen as one has a loss, but there is no right for them to grieve that loss, resulting in the loss and the grief associated with the loss becoming disenfranchised.

 

 

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the webinar, Disenfranchised Grief: When Grief and Grievers Are Unrecognizedpresented by Lisa Zoll, MSW, LCSW.


lisa zoll

Lisa Zoll, MSW, LCSW

Lisa Zoll is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked for  17 years in the field of Social Work, in various capacities including as a Clinical Psychiatric Specialist at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center Department of Psychiatry in the adult partial hospitalization program and the psychiatric outpatient clinic. Lisa was appointed an Adjunct Instructor in the Master of Social Work program at Temple  University, Harrisburg, where she began teaching courses on "Loss and Grief” and "Assessment and the DSM." In 2014, she was appointed as a full-time instructor in the program where she taught courses across the social work curriculum until it's closure. In 2018, Lisa founded "Grief Relief, LLC" where she specializes in helping clients challenged by loss and grief.


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