Disenfranchised Grief in Care Settings_Jennifer Moran Stritch

Not Like Us:
Disenfranchised
Grief in Care
Settings
JENNIFER MORAN STRITCH SCI/IASW CPD SEMINAR – FEBRUARY 25, 2015
“UNDERSTANDING CHILDREN, LOSS & BEREAVEMENT”
What does disenfranchised grief
mean?
 Ken
Doka
 Doka (2002) “the grief that persons
experience when they incur a loss that is
not or cannot be openly acknowledged,
publicly mourned or socially supported.
(Doka, pxv)
 where the relationship is not recognised
 the loss is not acknowledged
 the griever is excluded rather than
supported
What does having a franchise for
grief mean?
DISENFRANCHISED
Loss that “doesn’t deserve your tears”

Suicide
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Death from violence/crime/ “unsavoury” circumstances
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Overdose/addiction
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Death from misadventure
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Death/emotional cutoff after sexual/physical abuse
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Death after domestic violence
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Separation/divorce
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Loss of an extramarital affair
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Death after an extramarital affair
Secret Loss/Loss that is “less than”…
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Sibling loss - both adult and child
Miscarriage
Infertility + treatment/interventions
Abortion
Termination for fatal foetal abnormalities
Invisible illness
Pet loss
Loss that is not human but of a thing
Presenting child for adoption – infant +
Agreeing to put a child in care (family or system)
Death of a co-worker (caring professions?)
Not Like Us: “they don’t understand”
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People with intellectual/physical disabilities
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People with learning differences
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People with Autism
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People with mental illness
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Elderly people
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Children/Young People
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People with Acquired Brain Injury
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People with Dementia
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People receiving service – incarceration, homeless, psychiatric,
addiction
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People who are “used to it” due to repeated loss
Like us: strong, faithful, professional
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Social care workers/social workers
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Gardai
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First responders
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Doctors/nurses
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Funeral & death professionals
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Teachers/lecturers/counsellors/therapists
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Clergy/chaplains
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“the supporter/tea-maker/dishwasher”
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Individuals with particularly strong/public religious beliefs -> afterlife
When grief is disenfranchised…we
are not honoured

Withdrawal from contact/expression
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Unable to participate in public rituals
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Unable to express sorrow or grief
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Depression
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Psychosomatic symptoms (particularly for children)
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Increased risk of prolonged or complicated grief
What can we do?
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So much is internal work (hard to change society overnight!!)
Love is love = grief is grief
Give time to yourself to grieve this – practical ways?
Acknowledge – name the thing (especially for others you support)
Create safe/culturally meaningful & appropriate/real spaces/virtual
spaces for:
talking,
remembering,
writing,
ritual,
drawing,
Group or individual – may need both simultaneously to work
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Personal exercise for the caring professional….
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Who in my network of relationships is the person most likely to:
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ask how I am doing
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be the person I can cry in front of/with
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do practical things (help clean up, watch the kids so I can have some
time, cover my shift, help me write a report, etc.)
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notice I am not doing well tomorrow, next week, next month
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start a conversation about the person/thing/relationship I have lost
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Celebrate a happy memory with me
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Tell me the truth
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Be supportive 1 year from now
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Thank you for sharing this time with me and others present….
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Questions, comments, ideas?
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[email protected]
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Twitter: @stritchj
References
 Doka,
K. (2002) Disenfranchised Grief: New
Directions, Challenges and Strategies for
Practice. Chicago: Research Press.
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