Kerrin Bain Coaching

Ambiguous Grief

‘I have no where to go and no one to speak to!’ said my friend in despair, ‘I am grieving, and it is not a death loss but it has been so incredibly hard’. I have known this strong, feisty woman for 10 years and she is someone who rises to every occasion, time and time again.  I have admired her strength and her unique gift in dealing with all sorts of issues and all kinds of people in a real and authentic way. She is a fighter, a survivor and someone who doesn’t give in, so to hear her desperation and her heart ache moved and silenced me in a way that I have not felt before in her presence. What she told me next, broke my heart into a thousand pieces for her and her family. She said, ‘It is like my loss and grief goes unnoticed or worse it is misinterpreted as embarrassment’. This could not be further from the truth, this is a mother who loves her child unconditionally but she is aware that she and her family are on a journey, it is the journey that the family takes when a child decides they want to change their gender identity.  This is a journey that involves a massive adjustment for everyone and with this there is a deep sense of loss. It is intensely emotional and each family member feels the impact of the change in a different way. While a sibling may accept the change and adapt with ease, a parent may run and hide. All of these are completely normal responses to any big life change, there is no right or wrong way to feel, but it is important to acknowledge the feelings. Only once we have acknowledged what we are feeling, can we understand what to do with it.

This experience is known as ‘ambiguous grief’, it is the type of grief that occurs when we lose something that is not clear cut or easily defined and is not a death loss. It happens when the loss is not visible or socially recognised and there is no closure or finality but the feelings of loss are incredibly intense.

To navigate this journey, it is important to acknowledge and validate the feelings of all family members in a loving and patient way.

To have open and honest conversations, facilitated by a professional who can help the family deal with the complexities of grief and acceptance during the journey.