Disenfranchised Losses

Last evening I met with two friends on Zoom to catch up. All three of us had lots to say about many things but as so often happens now, we spoke of Covid, vaccines and with caution – some of the disenfranchised losses that we  experienced due to the virus and its varients.  According to Kenneth J Doka,  a grief expert, disenfranchised grief is made up of the disappointments and losses that are hard to acknowledge, when worse things are happening to others.

It could be things like: a missed graduation or a 100th Birthday party; no more sports for our teenagers; not getting to see our grandchildren or the once in a lifetime trip cancelled. There are other things like not being able to help a dear friend who is ill or a parent who died in long term care without us.  And so much more. The slippery slope happens when we look around and see the truly heartbreaking loss experienced by some of our friends and family, and we feel like we have no right to complain. It is a bit like the conundrum between caregivers and the person they are caring for. The caregiver often feels like they can’t complain because X has cancer or some other serious illness.

This is why we must avoid unnecessary comparisons of all kinds.  When we compare  pain, loss, treatments, disease, or wealth and status…there is no end to it. The bottom line is, we all have sorrows and joys in our lives and we meet them where we are, with who we are, and with what we know. We get to acknowledge our own suffering, without the requirement of fitting it into a graph.

Sometimes We Need to Wallow

For instance, my teenage granddaughter was grumpy, miserable and very discouraged this week. With all the bad news of going into a full blown lock down once again and schools closing, she was fed up.  Her parents weren’t thrilled with her attitude, but on second thought they got it, when she said, “don’t you see, I just need to wallow for awhile.” It reminded me of when she was a little girl and had a little pink cloth that she held whenever she was sad. She once said to an older cousin who babysat her, “I know you don’t want me to cry but I need to cry for awhile.” A few minutes later she said, “I’m done now,” and hopped down from her chair and started playing.

There are times when we all need a pink cloth and a little wallowing time. We don’t need to worry that we are turning into the whiner or complainer. We are simply acknowledging that life currently feels the pits. Be careful of the expression, “at least.” I don’t find it helpful and it risks being dismissive of the person who is suffering. That person might even be you.  We are allowed our own wallowing time, and when we are ready, we get back up and move along, with an awareness that we also have things to appreciate.

We All Need Dreams

One of my friends suggested that when we go through difficult times we all need to have something to look forward to. She thanks her visa card with every purchase, because she is accumulating points to fly out west in August, to see her beloved family. Her visa card now brings her joy because she thinks ahead to that trip. Of course, the trip may be cancelled because of Covid.  Still, she has the joy of planning it now.

While  firmly planted in the present, it is  good to have some dreams. Something to plan. Something to work towards, especially when the situation we find ourselves in can be discouraging.  We mostly do our best to recognize the privileges we have, and when the time comes where we need to wallow for a bit, we meet that unwanted guest at the door and allow the visit. It won’t be permanent. We were made to handle this universality of loss. It comes right along with all the love, joy, meaning, purpose and adventures of a full life. Never forget that we have what it takes and we have each other, whoever those beautiful others are in your life.


Note 1:) “When sad cry; walk; read; reach out to others; help others; and don’t forget humour” Jim Button

Note 2:) I send spring greetings to you all: stay safe, enjoy the unfolding of spring and find ways to enjoy each other’s company, whether together or apart.

Note 3:) Thank you for coming by. It will be April when we meet again. Warmest wishes, Trudy



15 replies
  1. Carol Ingells
    Carol Ingells says:

    Trudy, your message is so appreciated tonight. I’ve been sad over many things, yet feeling badly that I’m not grateful for all I’ve been blessed with. Thank you for the reminder that it’s OK to wallow for a while. I think you must have a most delightful and wise grand-daughter. Sending love and hugs.

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Thank you Carol. I do have a delightful and wise granddaughter. Happy you noticed. 😊warm wishes, big hugs and take care, Trudy

  2. Allison
    Allison says:

    Thank you Trudy – hope everyone has a “little pink blanket” right now to both help with wallowing (such a good word) and to move through this time too ❤️

  3. Judy Bernstein
    Judy Bernstein says:

    Thanks yet again Trudy for your wise words.
    I don’t think I will ever forget “we all need time to wallow”. So true.
    When I start to sink, I often start telling myself all the things that could be worse, but yes, it’s ok to be sad and sink for a while, as long as we rise up again 😏

  4. Jean
    Jean says:

    Well put Trudy,love the image of little pink cloth.wallowing is a gift I am trying to give to me and encouraging my youngers to try it too. Sometimes we focus a little too much on gratitude. Crap is crap and it’s okay to say it.😇🤗.my very early,for Calgary, tulips continue to give me joy.three little buds today.take care of you and enjoy this lovely Easter weekend. Happy April.

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Thanks dear Jean. I appreciate your notes. Wallowing is important too and I hope your young ones appreciate your advice. Big hugs, trudy

  5. janice
    janice says:

    Disenfranchised grief – we have a pandemic of it, don’t we. So important to acknowledge those griefs of ‘small’ losses of which there are so very many. I want to find myself a little pink cloth as a reminder that it’s ok to feel my sadness – thank you Sophie. And thank you Trudy for your wise and comforting words. much love, Jan

  6. gottfried
    gottfried says:

    Thank you Trudy, very timely, again! Now I must ask Sophie to teach me the art of how to stop my wallowing.

    PAT FREAM says:

    Thank you dear Trudy, this is a lovely and important message. I couldn’t agree more. Sending wishes for ease, awe, and lots of self compassion as we navigate the days ahead.

  8. Sabine
    Sabine says:

    I do love the story of your grandchild, Trudy:-) Yes, if we are allowed to weep – by others and ourselves – life becomes a bit lighter after it and we can go on “refreshed”… Thank you so much for your reliable posts!

  9. Mary Ann
    Mary Ann says:

    Dear Trudy,
    You, your granddaughter, and the people commenting before me have said it all so well.
    So I’ll just add, “Amen”.


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