The author of The Disenfranchised Loss, Peggy Sapphire, discusses this unique kind of loss with Dr. Gloria Horsley during the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference. There are many losses which aren’t acknowledged or are minimized in society, such as the loss of a pet or ex-spouse. This can make it very difficult for grievers to heal, especially if they feel like they can’t acknowledge their own grief or reach out to friends and family for support. When a loss is disenfranchised, it remains not understood and that can pause the healing process for a lifetime.

Having no personal recognition that grief matters, Sapphire says, can lead to a multitude of problems. In the US, there are many types of disenfranchised grief, such as LGBTQ relationships where one partner dies, drug overdoses, and suicide. Sapphire focuses on the loss of her ex-spouse in her book, which is a commonly stigmatized grief. There are 19 first-person narratives in the book that represent the first time these authors have ever had their work published.

Sharing to Take Down Disenfranchisement

“It’s extremely fascinating because there are more of us out there,” she says. Any type of stigmatized grief can become disenfranchised, she points out. With cohabitation so common today, it’s often minimized when an ex lover dies. There may be no support from the family or the community, even though these partnerships can be just as close as a marriage.

Sapphire heard a story at the ADEC conference from a mother who lost her partner in Iraq—they weren’t married, but had been cohabitating and parenting for years. She experienced disenfranchisement as his family didn’t recognize her or her child’s place in the grief process or his life.

Gloria Horsley

Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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