When you take care of something for months or even years, you can grow attached to it, especially when it brings you happiness. For example, I became attached to several of my pet rats. Of course, the inevitable happened: they died.
Although some people didn’t understand, I went through a minor grieving process and even cried over my lost furry friends. Then again, those same people really didn’t understand my intense attachment to my rats while they were still living in the first place.
Disenfranchised grief is generally known as grief that is “less acceptable” by society. Pet loss is an example, since people can reason that pets aren’t human so they don’t matter as much. I’m guessing some pet owners wouldn’t agree, but in general if you show too many emotions over a dead pet, you’ll get puzzled looks and laughs. Even with pets there is a hierarchy. Most people would think something is wrong with you if you cried over a pet fish dying, but it might be different for a dog.
Another “unacceptable” cause of grief is abortion. Some people assume women will not feel regret or grief after having an abortion because they made the choice. Despite what society believes, some women who have abortions will feel grief and they might not get the support they need because of these expectations. Then again, this can also go the other way — people might assume because abortion is “bad” that the women will only naturally feel grief, but not all women do. Giving up a child for adoption could also cause the same puzzling results.
Two employees from Hospice of Palm Beach County in Florida together shared their knowledge of grief through e-mail: Regina Di Pietro, director of supportive services, and Chelsea Johnson, manager of supportive services.
“Grief is a normal and natural response to loss,” they said. “It is physiological as well as emotional and spiritual.”
It is important to distinguish between the sadness and depressed feelings associated with grief and those of clinical depression, since it’s “not a normal response.”
Culture and religion can play a part in how people grieve, as well as understanding and acceptance, Di Pietro and Johnson said.