Chapter 2: Why your grief may not be recognized

When the loss is not related to a death

I've been there
Heather shares the grief they experienced about the life they lost after a disability diagnosis at age 17.(3:22)Video transcript

I fell to pieces when my husband told me about the losses. Everything came crashing down, and I lost my sense of trust, my dreams for the future, financial security, and my sense of who I am. I lost interest in doing the things I used to enjoy, and I went numb.

Logically my brain tells me I’m not alone, but my heart feels alone.

Throughout your life, you’ve likely experienced losses that aren’t related to a death. Most of the time, these losses are not so important that they cause much difficulty, but some of these losses can hold deep meaning for you and cause you significant grief. If you’re grieving a loss that isn’t a death, you may not be receiving the support and understanding that you need. Click each tab below to view examples of this type of loss.

  • Separation, divorce, estrangement
  • Loss of sexual intimacy


  • Changes in identity or role (gender, parent, spouse)
  • Loss of independence or rights (going into care, imprisonment)
  • Beliefs, faith, hopes, dreams, goals



  • Decline in physical or mental ability (your own or someone else’s)
  • Illness or injury


Work, money, or home
  • Career change, unemployment, retirement
  • Financial loss
  • Relocation (moving, immigrating)
  • Destruction of property (home, possessions)





COVID-19 has helped to draw attention to this kind of loss because of the widespread effect of restrictions on social gatherings such as weddings, anniversaries, graduations, religious services, and many other events. In spite of this, many people downplay the impact of these losses by comparing them to those of other people.

Helpful resources
64 Examples of Disenfranchised Grief – What’s Your Grief