Chapter 4: Coping with unrecognized grief

Taking steps to build strategies

I've been there
Dianne speaks about having one friend who was able to listen and support her after the death of her husband.(3:22)Video transcript

The one place where I get a little peace of mind is when I’m with our daughter and granddaughter.

It's so important to take care of yourself when you are grieving. In the beginning, I didn’t even want to get out of bed, but I forced myself to move forward. It might mean showering only once every three days.

How you feel and what you need may change over time. The following suggestions may help you come up with strategies that work for you:

  • Acknowledge whatever feelings you have about the situation and what you’ve lost.
  • Remind yourself that your feelings and your grief are valid.
  • Remember that you’re worthy of the time and space needed to grieve.
  • If there is a ritual or gathering from which you’re excluded, create something of your own.
  • Carefully consider whether there are people who actually can support you in some way.
  • Take a break from people who are not supporting you.
  • Use available print, audio-visual, or web materials to learn more about unrecognized grief. (This is sometimes called “disenfranchised grief.”)
  • Seek out others who have experienced a similar loss. This can help to validate your grief.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have health concerns or need time away from work.
  • Explore ways that your own beliefs about loss and grief may be rooted in your family history and broader societal values and rules.
  • When you feel able, speak up about your loss, grief, and experience of being unrecognized.
  • Take time to explore and express your grief in new ways (e.g., journaling, art, photography).
  • Look for hope and opportunities to nourish yourself and do things you enjoy even in small moments (e.g., spend time in nature, with children, or around animals).

Helpful resources
Click here for a PDF of these strategies.