Presentation Title

C-2 Disenfranchised Grief: The Unwed Widow

Presenter Status

Graduate Student, Department of Graduate Psychology and Counseling

Location

Buller Room 150

Start Date

31-10-2014 3:15 PM

End Date

31-10-2014 3:30 PM

Presentation Abstract

Disenfranchised loss has been described as a loss that is unrecognized by society, with those suffering from it prevented from grieving through acceptable and societally sanctioned ways. This needs assessment examined the effects of losing an unmarried partner to death, and whether the surviving individual suffered from disenfranchisement due to their non-marital status. The purpose in examining unmarried partnership lay in the lack of research in the field on how partners deal with loss and mourning when that loss lies outside of the parameters of what is societally considered a significant loss. Individual interviews were utilized with phenomenology as the methodological framework employed in order to ensure that the foundation of the research was based on the direct experiences of unmarried individuals whose partner has died, and to allow for the assessment of the needs of this population of grievers. The assumptions of this study were that individuals who experience the premarital loss of a partner suffer from disenfranchised loss, and that they are prevented from mourning in ways that are societally recognized and sanctioned. It was the assumption of this researcher that the surviving ex-partner would have unique needs associated with this loss, and that the grief and mourning process would not follow the same path as the path for an individual for whom society recognizes the loss as significant and needing to be mourned. The final assumption of this researcher was that those responding to the advertisement for participants in this study would include individuals for whom the loss has either not been supported, and/or who have not resolved their loss in accordance with societal expectations. The results of the research verified this population to be disenfranchised in their grief process, and identified three subpopulations: The Relieved, The Unreceptive, and The Unacknowledged. The results of this research provides for the creation of treatment programs specific to the needs of those who experience disenfranchisement in the grief recovery process.

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Oct 31st, 3:15 PM Oct 31st, 3:30 PM

C-2 Disenfranchised Grief: The Unwed Widow

Buller Room 150

Disenfranchised loss has been described as a loss that is unrecognized by society, with those suffering from it prevented from grieving through acceptable and societally sanctioned ways. This needs assessment examined the effects of losing an unmarried partner to death, and whether the surviving individual suffered from disenfranchisement due to their non-marital status. The purpose in examining unmarried partnership lay in the lack of research in the field on how partners deal with loss and mourning when that loss lies outside of the parameters of what is societally considered a significant loss. Individual interviews were utilized with phenomenology as the methodological framework employed in order to ensure that the foundation of the research was based on the direct experiences of unmarried individuals whose partner has died, and to allow for the assessment of the needs of this population of grievers. The assumptions of this study were that individuals who experience the premarital loss of a partner suffer from disenfranchised loss, and that they are prevented from mourning in ways that are societally recognized and sanctioned. It was the assumption of this researcher that the surviving ex-partner would have unique needs associated with this loss, and that the grief and mourning process would not follow the same path as the path for an individual for whom society recognizes the loss as significant and needing to be mourned. The final assumption of this researcher was that those responding to the advertisement for participants in this study would include individuals for whom the loss has either not been supported, and/or who have not resolved their loss in accordance with societal expectations. The results of the research verified this population to be disenfranchised in their grief process, and identified three subpopulations: The Relieved, The Unreceptive, and The Unacknowledged. The results of this research provides for the creation of treatment programs specific to the needs of those who experience disenfranchisement in the grief recovery process.