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Objects in the Rear View Mirror

Music is something immensely powerful. It holds a connection to both past present and future, as well as, having the ability to express feeling, thought, and emotion. It can alter our mood and emotions, and even our thoughts – for good or bad. For some its the music itself, for others its the lyrics, for me its a combination of both.
I’m a bit of a sucker for the bold rock ballad, even opera at times, though a country girl at heart, but given the news recently about the death of Meat Loaf, I have found myself revisiting many of the songs of my teenage years. All it takes is a few words in any random conversation and the associated song jumps into my head and becomes my next ear worm (welcomed though). I was noting how much these songs of my past, not limited to Meat Loaf, have shaped more than just my upbringing, but how I feel now, as well as, how I consider the future.
Earlier today Meat Loaf’s ‘Objects in the Rear View’ (1993) came into mind. So profound and impactful are the lyrics to this song, more so in a personal sense given my own past, but I noticed today that this has engaged the counsellor in me as well. Many times I’ve heard the line from clients “why talk about the past, its behind us?”, while that may indeed be true, the happenings of that past, for better or worse, have had a hand in shaping us. Even when we feel we have worked things through (or even attempted to bury them) they tend to have a way of rising up into our vision again and again.
This notion is summed up in the title alone and repeated multiple times over and over just to be sure we get the idea, “objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are“, and furthered elsewhere in the song, “and though the nightmares should be over, some of the terrors are still intact“. We need to offer careful consideration in our own lives to these ‘objects’, that when not dealt with can raise themselves “up out of the backseat now“, and even if they are dealt with, that we can be triggered by the “ugly coarse and violent voice” of memory alone.

RIP Michael Lee Aday (born Marvin Lee Aday; September 27, 1947 – January 20, 2022)

Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are

(trigger warning – speaks of abuse, death, and loss)

The skies were pure and the fields were green
The sun was brighter than it’s ever been
When I grew up with my best friend, Kenny
We were close as any brothers that you ever knew
It was always summer and the future called
We were ready for adventures and we wanted them all
There was so much left to dream
And so much time to make it real

But I can still recall the sting of all the tears when he was gone
They said he crashed and burned, I know I’ll never learn
Why any boy should die so young
We were racing; we were soldiers of fortune
We got in trouble but we sure got around
There are times I think I see him peeling out of the dark
I think he’s right behind me now, and he’s gaining ground

But it was long ago, and it was far away
Oh God, it seems so very far
And if life is just a highway, then the soul is just a car
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are
Objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are
They are

They are

And when the sun descended and the night arose
I heard my father cursing everyone he knows
He was dangerous and drunk and defeated
And corroded by failure and envy and hate
There were endless winters and the dreams would freeze
No where to hide and no leaves on the trees
And my father’s eyes were blank as he hit me again and again and again

I know I still believe he’d never let me leave, I had to run away alone
So many threats and fears, so many wasted years
Before my life became my own
And though the nightmares should be over
Some of the terrors are still intact
I’ll hear that ugly, coarse, and violent voice
And then he grabs me from behind, and then he pulls me back

But it was long ago, and it was far away
Oh God, it seems so very far
And if life is just a highway, then the soul is just a car
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are
They are

There was a beauty living on the edge of town
She always put the top up and the hammer down
And she taught me everything I’ll ever know
About the mystery and the muscle of love
The stars would glimmer and the moon would glow
I’m in the back seat with my Julie like Romeo
And the signs along the highway all said
Caution! Kids at play!

Those were the rights of spring and we did everything
There was salvation every night
We got dreams reborn and our upholstery torn
But everything we tried was right
She used her body just like a bandage
She use my body just like a wound
I’ll probably never know where she disappeared
But I can see her rising up out of the back seat now
Just like an angel rising up from a tomb

But it was long ago, and it was far away
Oh God, it seems so very far
And if life is just a highway, then the soul is just a car
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are x3
Objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are

Objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are x3
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are

Objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are
And objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are x2
Objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are x3

She used her body just like a bandage
She used my body just like a wound
I’ll never know where she disappeared
But I can see her rising up out of the back seat now…

Source: Musixmatch (corrected by me)
Songwriters: Jim Steinman

Resignation or Acceptance, there’s a difference?

resignation or acceptanceI had resigned myself to the fact that my life is… lets speak candidly here… crap! Why? Have you ever looked at your life and said, I want better, I want more, this can’t be it, why does this happen to me? Well here’s some news, most people do. I’m not talking here about having enough and wanting more, I’m talking about wanting what others seem to have. Yes, I have heard the stories about the grass being greener, and not coveting the things that others have, the green eyes of jealousy etcetera. I’m not talking about that either, I’m talking about a childhood that by today’s measure would have had people jailed, a husband that cheated and after denying the fact and accusing me of doing the same took the business that I had built from the ground up. Blocked fallopian tubes and no financial means of circumventing the issue, step children who… well let’s leave that one alone lest I say something nasty about their mother who reminds me of my own. Let’s not speculate on how my tubes got blocked, the doctors say it may have been from an unknown/unnoticed infection, suffice to say I have one child from early on in the marriage and none thereafter, only a husband who, in his own words, “just wanted to have some fun”. So, back to my opening line, I had resigned myself to the fact my life is crap!

I’m one who speaks on forgiveness being necessary for our own health, and for the most part I have been able to manage this, for example, the man who daily beat my sister and I for many years, are a non-issue to me. What I struggle with is the blue faced liars and those who stood by and watched and did nothing! Sometimes it helps to know that those were days when you didn’t interfere in the business of others, thus was the culture of the day, I mean we had only just come out of the time when it was okay for a husband to beat his wife, sad to see this still happening today.

For many years I hated those who did nothing, then I resigned myself to the notion that maybe they didn’t know any better, or they didn’t think it was their place to step in, that maybe they didn’t know after all and my sister and I were to remain alone in this pain. I later found out people did know, and yes they thought it wasn’t their place to intervene, to add insult to injury some thought what we experienced was “simply a heavy handed form of discipline”!

This simply added to my inner burning, not only did people stand by and watch, they made excuses for not actioning any form of help. I ran away from home at 16, and tried my best to put this all behind me, my burning had birthed thoughts that I would not be like them. As an adult I learned better the act of forgiveness and felt I had managed to master this time in my life, I even began, like those who watched, to make excuses for their behaviour, unbeknownst to me I was allowing people in my life now to do the same. They just became more people who I had to ‘forgive’.

I thought I had turned a corner when I had my son and sought to introduce him to his grandmother, but little did I know that what I was doing was not forgiving, merely burying the hurt and trying to forget the actions of others. I later learned that forgiveness is not about forgetting, nor is it about an ability to instantly put a stop to the hurt.

So many have told me that we only need to forgive once and it is done, if it comes back it basically means you didn’t do it right, try try try again, until it doesn’t bother you anymore. No wonder this forgiveness thing wasn’t working for me. Then I found out that it’s not how it’s meant to work, like love, forgiveness is a decision not a feeling, it’s not about emotion, it’s about a process and growth. It’s more than just saying the words and living out your life until bad things happen and oops you fell out of love. Just the same for love, forgiveness is about working toward it, not some magical thing that hangs around until someone bursts the pretty bubble.

Like I said I had resigned myself to such a life as this, until I read about the difference between resignation and acceptance.

Resignation. The word is so final, so complete, so… the end. It screams “it’s ending”, “it’s over”, “give up”, “stop fighting”.

Acceptance, however, speaks of something completely different, though the outward action looks much the same, acceptance keeps going, it whispers, “okay, this is new”, “what are we going to do about this?”, its embracing, welcoming… positive. It speaks of letting go and moving forward.

This is what I believe to be the problem with the method of forgiveness I was trying to operate under, it was looking at things through the lens of resignation “it’s over”, when the lens should have been acceptance, “where do we go from here?”.

Here are some words for thought, my own twist on the writings of Creath Davis…

Resignation is a surrender to whatever will be
Acceptance is a surrender to being

Resignation lies down quietly on the path of life
Acceptance rises up with purpose and destiny

Resignation says “I can’t”
Acceptance looks for hope

Resignation paralyses the life process
Acceptance releases the process for its greater creativity

Resignation says “it’s all over for me”
Acceptance says, “now I am here, what next?”

Resignation says “what a waste”
Acceptance says “In what redemptive way can I use this mess?”

Resignation says “I am alone”
Acceptance says “I belong”

Resignation says “I’m done”
Acceptance is choosing to walk forward

Acceptance, I believe is the key to forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a process, a journey, not a destination, and though I had laid down in Death Valley, I have chosen to get up and walk and I am still walking through the forgiveness of those who have wronged me, I’m sure not ever going to forget, but I am choosing to not let the burning consume me any longer. Has anything changed externally? Have people apologised? Some have, did it make a difference? Not really. Once the pottery is shattered can it ever be the same again? No, but if it doesn’t resign itself to fate, it can be painstakingly repaired and become even more remarkable (look up the art of Kintsugi).

I have rejected resignation and chosen acceptance, I have picked myself up, dusted myself off and I am Walking Life’s Path, will you join me?

WLP Picto for WP


Disenfranchised Grief: How to Ease the Burden

Danielle-Marie Schimke,
Dip Couns, Adv Dip CFT, Grad Dip Counselling and Integrated Psychotherapy (process)


Developed from the French word “grève,” “grief” means a heavy burden (Johnson, 2003). The purpose of this paper is to enlighten readers on the process of helping grieving persons cope, or carry, all types of grief and loss and to educate on the positive impact that addressing disenfranchised grief could have on an individual, families and the community. The aim is to elucidate, remove the confusion and clarify, disenfranchised grief, focusing primarily on its negative impact, and the social non-acceptance of some types of grief and loss.

“The experience of grieving cannot be ordered or categorised, hurried or controlled, pushed aside or ignored indefinitely. It is inevitable as breathing, as change, as love. It may be postponed, but it will not be denied.”[i] Molly Fumia  

Unhappy person and people not listening


To disenfranchise meaning to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, or of some privilege or immunity (“Merriam-Webster Dictionary,” 2015).

The University of Texas at Austin’s Counselling and Mental Health Center, CMHC (2015) defines loss as, “an inevitable part of life, and grief is a natural part of the healing process”, books and references on grief and loss abound, most of which point to grief being in relation to death, however, a few others examples including the obvious death are: divorce, prodigal children, unemployment or retrenchment, loss of health, limbs or physical appearance, loss of purpose or self-esteem (Zagdanski, 2013; Sheets & Jackson, 2005), basically the loss of anyone or ANYTHING we value, including miscarriage (spontaneous or induced), a loss from AIDS, suicide, and even affairs (Worden, 2010). Further examples include, “the letting go of a long-held dream” (CMHC 2015) the loss of the assumptive world, referring to “the assumptions or beliefs that ground, secure, or orient people, that give a sense of reality, meaning, or purpose to life”, that whatever the assumption is the fact is that the reality of the disruption is hard to conceive and all in all the range of possibilities is massive (Kauffman, 2002). The negative emotions evoked when sensing a lack or loss of control which some liken to feeling like grief (Smollan, 2014).

Understanding such loss to be a ‘crisis of meaning’, that “when we experience events that don’t fit our schemas, or violate our assumptions, or shatter our illusions, we experience a crisis of meaning” (Landsman, 2002). The same could be said for grieving things that one never had and therefore never had the chance to lose (Bloom, 2002). It could also be considered that the upbringing of some may have been ‘too good’, basically failing to prepare them for negative experiences, to build any form of defence mechanism against said experiences (Rando, 2002). Consider too, a child’s assumptions that their caregivers will love them and keep them safe, that they need predictability and structure, reassurance, and when this doesn’t happen they lose, trust, meaning, and faith, the recommendations here, and daresay in all areas of grief, are to re-create a safe assumptive world (Goldman, 2002).

Disenfranchised grief, was first coined by Kenneth Doka in 1989, it is described as grief that cannot be openly expressed due to the type or nature of the loss not being recognised by others, it is when persons are not accorded a ‘right to grieve’ (Doka as cited in Attig, 2004), the nature of such actions also being described as a deprivation of entitlement, and disenfranchisers as failing ethically and politically, as well as lacking in empathy (Attig, 2004).

Losses which are not socially sanctioned are otherwise disenfranchised (Worden, 2010), or invalidated by others out of fear that their own assumptive world could be bought into question (K. Doka, 2002). Directly related to disenfranchisement are two types of loss (Aaron Lazare as cited in Worden, 2010):

  • socially negated – losses viewed by society as non-losses, for example, miscarriage, including abortion, and the
  • socially unspeakable – losses the mourner can’t discuss due to held societal stigmas, for example, suicide, and death by AIDS. A significant number of parents whose children suicided or overdosed actually being blamed for the death (Byers, 2013).

As a grieving parent and grief counsellor Nathalie Himmelrich (2014), adds a third:

  • that which doesn’t meet the expectations of grief models – losses viewed as not conforming to the when, why and what of various grieving theories. To the degree that those experiencing such grief would fall into the category of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) as diagnosed by the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). While some state such a move is good for the griever (Pies, 2013), others disagree (Frances, 2012; Begley & Royalty, 2013), and others, still, even stating this is not the case (Pariante, 2013; Pies, 2013).

As a challenge to disenfranchised grief Robson & Walter (2013) have a two-fold argument:

  1. That by the very nature of the word disenfranchisement implies one ought to become enfranchised which is not purely clinical and could be assumed to be “a political term meaning to admit to citizenship, to set free, to liberate, as from slavery…” which would then label the disenfranchisers as oppressors, and,
  2. That the legitimacy of bereavement is not a binary yes or no, but that it is actually scalar or hierarchical.

In said contention, the tool that they used as evidence of this hierarchical theory had participants focused solely on social recognitions of grief and asked them to construct where they each viewed a mourner should sit in a scale of selected mourners “first reserves” to “lesser mourners”, that is, the tool asked participants to express what level they feel people should be grieving. Robson & Walter contend that “disenfranchisement is not a norm, but a feeling experienced by mourners whose personal grief exceeds their position in the hierarchy… as perceived by [others]”. Basically, the community decrees where and how one should or shouldn’t grieve, not the one grieving. The question should be then posed, how is this not disenfranchising?

Looking more closely at the definition of disenfranchised grief, in order to adequately define it, we need to fully comprehend the power of loss and the full spectrum of human emotion that goes with it, first however, we must obtain some knowledge of what it means to be attached to something or someone (Worden, 2010). Bowlby (as cited in Worden, 2010) is a key figure in this area and has shaped a theory that humans form attachments from a need for security and safety, though he sees attachment as being distinct from purely physical needs and can invoke feelings of intense anxiety and strong emotional protest when the connection is severed, even if only temporarily. This theory on attachment is that humans, as well as many animals, develop bonds early in life, the attachment behaviour is a normal part of human conduct and is maintained into adulthood. The view is that loss challenges assumptions causing the griever to have to reconstruct their world afterwards, one’s general beliefs can also be affected, causing faith and philosophy to be called to account and questioning long standing beliefs (Bray, 2013), all complicating the search to find meaning in the loss (K. Doka, 2002).


A study by Professor David Maddison which looked at the physical effects of grieving on widows found that a significantly large portion of the widows studied suffered adverse health effects, however, the remainder did not. The findings? The women who stayed well had someone who allowed them to grieve, while larger group did not (Graeme Griffin as cited in Zagdanski, 2013), clearly indicating a benefit between receiving help from friends, family and professional helpers and leaving mourners to cope on their own.

 “I would like to help. I really would. But I just don’t know what to say. I’m sure I say too much, and sometimes I think what I say hurts more than it helps. So, most of the time, I stay away and don’t do anything at all” (Wright, 2006).

It is important to note that simply someone’s discomfort in talking about or avoidance of another’s grief, can often hinder that person in their resolution process (K. Doka, 2002), similarly the same can be said for minimising someone’s loss, even if done with the best intentions and an upbeat focus on the future (Worden, 2010). Sometimes, simply the reactions of others to a grief experience may be enough for the griever to experience greater issues, take for example Mrs A (79). Involved in a bus accident, unable to travel on public transport afterwards, she relied on her two sons, but, whenever she tried to talk to them about the accident they became upset causing Mrs A further distress, yet such re-telling and ventilation of emotions and reactions is necessary to help integrate the experience (Watts, 1994; Johnson, 2003). Empathy is the key, any loss needs to be acknowledged, seen through the eyes of the griever without being filtered through the observers own experiences or understanding (Wright, 2006).

The difficulties move beyond the usual not knowing what to say, using such well-worn clichés as “time will heal”, rather than accepting the mourner is experiencing a difficult time and just needs to tell someone about it, or attempting to turn your thoughts to other things simply because they don’t know what to say (Zagdanski, 2013).

Secondary problems are likely to arise when a person is unable to actively participate in the recovery process (Raphael & Meldrum, 1994). There are many disruptions to grief some of which are, somatising, that is the unconscious conversion of grief into physical symptoms in order to have their emotional needs met, repressing, inhibiting, minimising, or diluting feelings, delaying, postponing, or denying, replacement, guilt, any number of which when left to their own devices typically comes out in ways which are not good for the mourner, and may be triggered even by small future losses (Wright, 2006), such is the nature of what happens when grief is disenfranchised.

The problem is that the issues which cause grief vary greatly in size, the bigger the perceived scale the more society puts into helping those affected, the paradox is that those with the smaller issue, receiving less attention from members of society, are the ones who are most disadvantaged (Horne, 1994), the ones most likely to have their grief disenfranchised. A most critical component in coming to terms with a loss is how the one grieving appraises their experience, (Horne, 1994; Raphael & Meldrum, 1994), their responses to issues are not only affected by these perceptions, but also influenced, whether for good or bad, by other factors including their social systems such as family and work (Horne, 1994). Consider the effect that the rejection and denial of the validity of the grievers complaints is likely to have on these and other relationships. For example, a husband says,

“My wife spent all day after the miscarriage crying – and the next day too. When I asked her how long this was going to go on, she exploded in a rage! I wondered if she was going crazy. After all, she wasn’t in pain” (Rank, 1985, pg. 24).

Discounting another’s reality or loss as remote or unreal can cause a wound that is infected by doubts and uncertainty, there is the potential for making the period of grief work more difficult (Clair & Sabo, 2001).

The consequences on those experiencing loss which is or has been disenfranchised can lead to a deterioration of the emotional efficacy of the individual, having a profound and long term impact on their lives (Clair & Sabo, 2001).


Disenfranchised grief is still grief and needs to be treated as such. Helping professionals should be sensitive to the diverse range of losses which exist, remembering the uniqueness of each individual, their perceptions and the evaluation of the loss experienced (K. J. Doka, 2002). The most important factor in any grief and loss intervention would be compassion and empathy driven professionals offering those grieving understanding and support (Jordan & Neimeyer, 2003; Johnson, 2003). Challenging the assumption that grief counselling is ‘naturally’ beneficial, Jordan & Neimeyer’s (2003) research found that a large portion of participants in the studies undertaken would have been better off had they not received grief counselling. Though the extent of such potential harm could not be determined, nor were the cursory descriptions of the interventions used enough to decipher whether specific methods were the problem or whether it is grief counselling as a whole.

The question remains, were these mourners suffering disenfranchisement? Could this be another reason why the study found grief counselling to be non-beneficial?

Loss affects people in many different ways, the following circumstances and elements have been known to lead to heightened stress on multiple levels causing what may seem like a lesser loss to have an almost catastrophic reaction (Raphael & Meldrum, 1994);

  • Multiple bereavements
  • Multiple losses (even across an extended period of time)
  • Extreme deprivation
  • Situations where support and security is deprived
  • Personal vulnerability
  • Level of support available
  • Depth of personal involvement
  • Repetitive exposure of Health and emergency workers

Two key themes of a helpful model of care are (Raphael as cited in Raphael & Meldrum, 1994):

  1. Recognition of the suffering; it must be recognised that the person has been hurt
  2. Recognition of the strength of the one suffering.

Talking through is a healing process (Raphael & Meldrum, 1994; Johnson, 2003), however, an individual’s coping mechanisms and avoidance of reminders, as well as, things like the shutting out of feelings, withdrawal, and increasing irritability are all hindrances to this (Raphael & Meldrum, 1994). Grief is a socially constructed experience, meaning that those struggling need support socially and culturally in order to interactively explore and socially mediate meaning. A griever’s friends and family provide, ideally, emotional availability and a willingness to support and to discuss spiritual and religious issues, from a cultural perspective providing safe and appropriate conditions for disclosure, exploration and growth, without which may lead to disenfranchisement.

For a professional such a role would be to provide hands on, facilitative and educational support and pace the griever’s steps through the process (Bray, 2013). It is also worth pointing out that the emotional intensity of any grief encounter can become an issue for the helper/professional, it is important for those exposed regularly to such to find an effective emotion management strategy which balances both empathising and keeping professional distance (Cain as cited in McManus, 2012), it is also recommended to maintain adequate supervision sessions (Phillips, 2016).

Romans 12:15 “weep with those who weep”[ii], a grieving person may need counsel, but they don’t live with their counsellor, they live with their friends and family, and whether it is liked or not relationships will change, faithfulness to the relationship may very well save their life (Sheets & Jackson, 2005), Ecclesiastes 4:8[iii] is revealing in such a regard, “there was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil”.

To be disenfranchised means you are not comforted, Isaiah 49:13 says, “For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.” People need to be allowed to have their grief and all the feelings that go along with it, without those ‘helping’ trying to make the pain go away (Zagdanski 2013).  This process is referred to by some as re-enfranchising, re-creating or re-building (Attig, 2004; Kauffman, 2002; Worden, 2010; Zagdanski, 2013), basically this is allowing the griever, no matter what they are grieving, to grieve, instead of snatching this very important process away from them, it is first and foremost about the one needing help (Egan, 2010). Psalm 56:8b (NLT) “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears”. ‘Keeping track of’ as meaning, to keep count, to count, to number, take account of, and reckon, and ‘sorrows’ as meaning, grief, mourning, sadness, distress, unhappiness, regret, and troubles and that by ‘collecting all our tears’ “God knows us so intimately that He keeps a precious account and cherishes even the tiniest of things, even those things, which we do not lend a second thought to” (Shanks, 2013), the apostle Paul exhorts Christian believers to do the same (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

“The power of the remedy of respect for suffering is made clear repeatedly. Respectful response to the disenfranchised in their sorrow promotes understanding and empathy. It liberates mourners from discounting or dismissal of the significance of their losses or of the extent and depth of their suffering, discouragement of expressions of their hurt, oppressive interference in efforts to come to terms with brokenness and anguish, isolation, and inappropriate social sanction. Respect from others promotes mourners’ self-respect and self-esteem as it welcomes and embraces them in caring community” (Attig, 2004).

The most common complaint Zagdanski (2013) hears is, “no-one really understands”, in her asking grievers what it is they want from most people, the comment “someone who’ll listen” is rarely left off the list. Consider Job, “I’ve had all I can take of your talk. What a bunch of miserable comforters!”[iv] “The key to facilitating effective mourning that integrates grief into life experiences is the space and permission to protest”, a comforters attempts to “smooth over or placate emotional responses of anger and protest”, do more harm than good (Lucas as cited in Harris, 2015).

Validating feelings and experience is imperative in any therapeutic relationship and that most clients don’t want advice, but simply to have someone listen (Litchfield & Litchfield, 2015; Egan, 2010; Anderson, 2010). A task called active listening, involving three vital parts, the listeners “manner and body language (attending), treating the sharer as an equal and not giving cheap advice (respect), and reflecting back to the sharer what they think they have heard (empathy)”, there is no quick fix formula, it is something that must be learned (Litchfield & Litchfield, 2015). Whether the listener agrees with the sharer or not, the task of listening is vitally important (Anderson, 2010), Zagdanski (2013) explains it thusly,

“[listening] allows them to talk freely about a matter of real importance to them. In being allowed to talk openly, the problem is aired and examined… when you are expected to clam up that’s just where your problem stays – locked up tight, right along with all the feelings.”

“The task of re-learning the self and the world is usually arduous and often overwhelming” (Roos, 2013), the last thing one needs is to be disenfranchised.

Yet, the disenfranchising of grief happens in our community on a daily basis, Doka’s (Worden, 2010) concept of societies views on certain griefs not being socially sanctioned seems to be shared by many. Society holds the belief that we shouldn’t cry or talk about our feelings, especially men (Conroy, 1995), however, we as helpers can teach those grieving and the wider community to change the perception that grieving is weak or self-indulgent, that grieving indeed has a purpose (Zagdanski, 2013; Anderson, 2010). All of us face problems in life, and whatever the issue when we need help, we need help, not to have them solved but to help in the management thereof, using said problems as an opportunity for growth (Egan, 2010) and in the re-creation of a safe assumptive world.


Not nearly enough has been written on the topic of disenfranchised grief, a paper here or there, a paragraph or sentence in an entire book, journal, or report on grief. It is rare to find assessments that cater to loss other than death without having to modify them, thus disenfranchising.

Public awareness and societal views need changing, but so too would the helping professions. Grief, no matter what size or type still needs to be acknowledged and accepted, not simply coped with or defended against. Associated with all change is uncertainty, a prime example being insecurity, which can cause anxiety, sadness and stress, it has been noted that until there is some form of resolution uncertainty can last a considerable period of time with effects not unlike that of grief, a key element of which is powerlessness (Smollan, 2014). Trained helpers have the power to inform, teach, and express to individuals and the community about loss, about how it effects the individual and those around them, about how it both hurts and leads to growth and healing.

It is proposed that disenfranchised grief needs further time to address and more in depth studies made, not just in the effects of grief on individuals, but also on their families, friends and communities, and also the effects of disenfranchising that grief.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Anderson, H. (2010). Common grief, complex grieving. Pastoral Psychology, 59(2), 127–136.

Attig, T. (2004). Disenfranchised Grief Revisited: Discounting Hope and Love. OMEGA: The Journal of Death and Dying, 49(3), 197–215.

Begley, S., & Royalty, D. (2013). Psychiatrists unveil their long-awaited diagnostic “bible.” Retrieved June 1, 2016, from

Bloom, S. L. (2002). Beyond the Beveled Mirror: Mourning and Recovery from Childhood Maltreatment. In J. Kauffman (Ed.), Loss of the Assumptive World: A Theory of Traumatic Loss (pp. 139–170). East Sussex, UK: Routledge.

Bray, P. (2013). Bereavement and Transformation: A Psycho-spiritual and Post-traumatic Growth Perspective. Journal of Religion and Health, 52(3), 890–903.

Byers, D. S. (2013). W. Feigelman, J. R. Jordan, J. L. McIntosh and B. Feigelman: Devastating Losses—How Parents Cope with the Death of a Child to Suicide or Drugs. Clinical Social Work Journal, 41(4), 413–415.

Clair, S., & Sabo, J. (2001). The witnessing of disenfranchised grief. ProQuest Dissertations and Thesis, 21(3), 401–415.

CMHC Counseling and Mental Health Center. (2015). Grief and Loss. Retrieved from

Conroy, P. (1995). Beach Music. In Beach Music (p. 172). New York: Doubleday.

Doka, K. (2002). How could God? In J. Kauffman (Ed.), Loss of the Assumptive World: A Theory of Traumatic Loss (pp. 49–54). East Sussex, UK: Routledge.

Doka, K. J. (2002). Disenfranchised grief. In Living with Grief: Loss in later life (pp. 159–168). Washington, D.C.: The Hospice Foundation of America.

Egan, G. (2010). The Skilled Helper (10th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.

Frances, A. J. (2012). DSM 5 Is Guide Not Bible—Ignore Its Ten Worst Changes: APA approval of DSM-5 is a sad day for psychiatry. Retrieved June 1, 2016, from

Goldman, L. (2002). The Assumptive World of Children. In J. Kauffman (Ed.), Loss of the Assumptive World: A Theory of Traumatic Loss (pp. 193–204). East Sussex, UK: Routledge.

Harris, H. W. (2015). Much to Do About Protest: The Keith-Lucas Theory for Mourning. Social Work & Christianity, 42(4), 413–429.

Himmelrich, N. (2014). Grieving Parents: Surviving loss as a couple. Australia: Nathalie Himmelrich.

Horne, D. J. de L. (1994). The Psychology of Working With Victims of Traumatic Accidents. In R. Watts & D. J. de L. Horne (Eds.), Coping with Trauma: The Victim and the Helper (pp. 73–84). Bowen Hills, Australia: Australian Academic Press Pty Ltd.

Johnson, P. (2003). Understanding the Grieving Process. Retrieved June 1, 2016, from

Jordan, J. R., & Neimeyer, R. a. (2003). Does grief counselling work? Death Studies, 27(9), 765–786.

Kauffman, J. (Ed.). (2002). Loss of the Assumptive World: Theory of Traumatic Loss. East Sussex: Routledge.

Landsman, I. S. (2002). Crisis of Meaning in Trauma and Loss. In J. Kauffman (Ed.), Loss of the Assumptive World: A Theory of Traumatic Loss (pp. 13–30). East Sussex, UK: Routledge.

Litchfield, B., & Litchfield, N. (2015). Apply Active Listening Skills from a Christian Perspective – COCALS595A. Canberra: Australian Institute of Family Counselling (aifc).

McManus, R. (2012). Culture, death and dying with dignity. Health Sociology Review, 21(4), 370–372.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (2015). Retrieved from

Pariante, C. M. (2013). DSM-5 and depressive disorders: yet more ado about nothing? Retrieved June 1, 2016, from

Phillips, R. (2016). Manage own self-care in professional practice – IPSSCP803A. Canberra: Australian Institute of Family Counselling (aifc).

Pies, R. (2013). How the DSM-5 Got Grief, Bereavement Right. Retrieved June 20, 2006, from

Rando, T. A. (2002). The “Curse” of Too Good a Childhood. In J. Kauffman (Ed.), Loss of the Assumptive World: A Theory of Traumatic Loss (pp. 171–192). East Sussex, UK: Routledge.

Rank, M. (1985). Free to Grieve: Healing and Encouragment for Those Who Have Suffered Misscarriage and Stillbirth. Bloomington: Bethany House Publishers.

Raphael, B., & Meldrum, L. (1994). Helping People Cope with Trauma. In R. Watts & D. J. de L. Horne (Eds.), Coping with Trauma: The Victim and the Helper (pp. 1–20). Bowen Hills, Australia: Australian Academic Press Pty Ltd.

Robson, P., & Walter, T. (2013). Hierarchies of loss: a critique of disenfranchised grief. Omega, 66(2), 97–119.

Roos, S. (2013). Chronic Sorrow and Ambiguous Loss: Gestalt Methods for Coping with Grief. Gestalt Review, 17(3), 229–239.

Shanks, Y. (2013). Even Our Tears are Precious to God. Retrieved from

Sheets, D., & Jackson, C. (2005). Praying Through Sorrows. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publsihers Inc.

Smollan, R. K. (2014). Control and the emotional rollercoaster of organizational change. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 22(3), 399–419.

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Worden, J. W. (2010). Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practioner (4th ed.). East Sussex, UK: Routledge.

Wright, H. N. (2006). Recovering from Losses in Life. Grand Rapids MI: Revell.

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[i] (Molly Fumia as cited by Johnson, 2003)

[ii] NLT

[iii] NIV

[iv] Job 16:2 (MSG)

Families are strange creatures!

family ties

An excerpt from Dr. Ronald W. Richardson’s book, Family Ties That Bind

A family is not just a collection of individuals who simply “do their own thing”. A family is more than the sum total of the persons in it, just as one hand is more than the sum total of five fingers and a palm. Each finger on the hand develops its own “personality” in relation to the rest of the hand. If one finger is lost, the whole hand is affected and can no longer function as it has; each finger has to adjust to that loss and learn some new functions.

Families are the same way, but a lot more complicated than fingers. Each family member develops a unique personality, but not in a vacuum. Your personality developed in relation and response to the other personalities in your family. And all of their personalities developed and changed in response to yours. Every member of a family, whether it’s mother in the same room or great-uncle Henry who ran away to Australia 30 years ago, affects every other family member in some way. Nothing happens in isolation in a family. If one member gets sick, the others are affected and adjust to it in some way. Then the sick member adjusts to their changes, which brings about further change. It can go on and on, like a hanging mobile (the type that hangs over babies crib) being blown and shifted by the wind. Every time one part of a mobile adds or loses weight, or moves toward or away from the centre of gravity, all the parts hang off balance until the changed parts returns to it’s original place or the other parts adjust themselves.

The way individuals balance themselves or create an imbalance in their family determines the general health and happiness of all the family members. The balancing and counterbalancing of our families of origin affects us our entire lives, even if we never have any contact with family members after adolescence. Next to our biology drives, it is the single most powerful influence on us. No one escapes it’s impact.

When two people get married, we tend to think of their relationship as a separate entity. Their happiness and problems in living together seem to be purely a product of their own personalities and entirely up to them. However, reality is much different. Any marriage is merely a link-up of two mobiles. It may not sound very romantic, but they are who they are as a result of their experiences in their families. The married couples self-expectations and expectations about each others behaviour come out of their family experiences. Their marriage is more than two people coming together. it is two family mobiles bumping into each other.

For example, the wife says, “He’s a spendthrift. Money burns a hole in his pocket.” While she says she wants to put more money into a savings account, he says, “She is too tight with money and unable to enjoy it. What’s the point of having it if you can’t enjoy it?”

These attitudes they have toward money, and spending and saving it, were shaped in their own families of origin. They may be the same as or the opposite to our parents, but their attitudes developed in response to their parents ideas about money. The wife’s parents barely made it through the great depression and emphasised the necessity of saving and their daughter decided they were right. The husband’s parents story is similar, but placed more restrictions on his spending, calling him irresponsible regardless of how much he spent. Now when the issue of his spending is raised he finds it revives the battles he had with Mum and Dad. He sees statements about money through the filter of his own family, his wife does the same thing.

What are some of the conflicts you have in your present intimate relationships that trouble you?

Are you able to trace any of your reactions to experiences or conflicts in your family of origin?

If you have any further queries on this matter, feel free to contact me (see contact above) or grab a copy of the book it is a treasure trove of helpful information.

Why you won’t find pictures of smiley happy people on our counselling page.

Have you ever been so despondent, so unhappy that the sight of happy people brings either a lump to your throat or something else less pleasant up from down below?

Have you ever been in a relationship, whether it be with your friends, family, or spouse that wasn’t at its best, maybe even at its worst and the sight of others getting on with their significant others brings much the same result as mentioned above, or perhaps even thoughts of a more sinister nature?

An attractive couple playing around on the beach

I can remember a time when I couldn’t watch romantic comedy or so much as think of viewing a chick flick DVD cover without cynicism.

Images of smiley happy people, including getting that song stuck in your head, has never cheered me up when I’ve been down, how about you?

What about someone experiencing grief?


Take a look at these images in this blog for example, imagine yourself in any of the following situations visiting a counselling website covered in such images:

  • Troubled teen at home or runaway
  • Abusive spouse either verbal and/or physical
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Just been made redundant at age 58
  • Household member, or even yourself, having just suffered an injury or been diagnosed with some kind of debilitating illness
  • Struggling to make ends meet
  • Don’t have time to rest (or be reading this, I hope insightful, blog)
  • Even the loss of the family pet


Do any of these images bring you comfort, make you feel happy, make you want to hang around the webpage looking for helpful information and contact details??? No??

Likewise, pictures of unhappy people tend to not bring comfort either.

Hence you will only find generic pictures and boring photos taken by myself of generic and boring things. Because it’s with our hearts we comfort, it’s with our own genuineness, empathy, and willingness to be with people in their need. It’s not with stock images of feigned happiness, not that I’m saying these people’s happiness is feigned, my point is that from a place of hurt it’s not images that calm and soothe, its people themselves.
And I’d not wish the throat lump, other substance, or unhappy thought upon anyone.

Sometimes life is… hard. You don’t have to go it alone

Feeling overwhelmed by it all? Drowning? Stuck in a rut? Lost? Tired?
Do you feel you are wandering aimlessly through life? 

Everyone needs someone to talk to, a listening ear; sharing our hurts helps us in many ways, but for some this may not be possible. Friends and family may be too close to the situation, or at too much of a distance. Sometimes it’s just more comfortable to talk to someone outside our normal circles. Counselling can help, it’s confidential, it’s objective, it’s non-judgemental, it can help us grow, it shares in the burdens of life, it comes alongside us helping us to discover strengths in ourselves that we may not have ever realised we had.

Introducing Danielle-Marie your friendly counsellor from Walking Life’s Path, a recently new counselling service opened up in the Logan City area. Danielle-Marie can cover such areas with you, as;

  • anxiety
  • stress
  • time management
  • relationship issues (not just limited to spouses, this can include workmates, friends, siblings, parent/child etcetera)
  • grief and loss (not limited to the loss of a loved one, can also include job loss, loss of a beloved pet, or even the kids moving out of home)
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • depression
  • addiction
  • and much more…

To celebrate our opening we are extending our offer to reduce the hourly fees till the end of October. Normally $50 per 1 hour session, you can take advantage of a reduced rate of $30/hr, saving you $20.

Located in the Logan City area. For more details or to contact Danielle-Marie please visit our website on the links above.

Free Counselling on Offer (ENDED)


Feeling overwhelmed by it all? Stuck in a rut? Lost? Tired?
Do you feel you are wandering aimlessly through life? 

Have you considered counselling?
Do you know of someone who may benefit from counselling?

Why counselling? What can counselling offer?

Someone to talk to, a listening ear; counselling helps us in many ways.
It’s confidential, it’s objective, it’s non-judgemental, it can help us grow, it shares in the burdens of life, it comes alongside people helping them to discover strengths in themselves that they may not have realised they had.

Introducing Danielle-Marie your friendly counsellor from Walking Life’s Path, a new counselling service in the Logan City area, covering areas such as;

  • anxiety
  • stress
  • time management
  • relationship issues (not just limited to spouses, this can include workmates, friends, siblings, parent/child etcetera)
  • grief and loss (not limited to the loss of a loved one, can also include job loss, loss of a beloved pet, or even the kids moving out of home)
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • depression
  • addiction
  • and much more…

To celebrate our birth we are offering 2 free 1 hour sessions to the first 10 people to make a booking for this September, this is a saving of $100.
If that wasn’t enough, any bookings which aren’t free will be reduced to $30/hr, saving you $20/hr, so even if you miss out on the free sessions you still get a discount.

For more details or to contact Danielle-Marie please visit our website on the links above.

Walking Life's Path Logo


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