Disenfranchised grief in response to supporting loved ones through significant substance use challenges
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This research explores lived experiences of individuals supporting loved ones through significant substance use challenges. The data was gathered by one-on-one semi-structured qualitative life history interviews with six female participants. The excerpts from the interviews collate to form a semi-fictional narrative of interactions between workers in the field of substance use, a teacher-mentor relationship, and a flow of conversation within a facilitated group to investigate the narrative of the loved ones supporting someone through significant substance use challenges. The research highlights the themes of stigma and anticipatory loss in disenfranchised grief. The research explores the concept of disenfranchised grief from primarily a first-responder’s perspective who invites loved ones of those struggling with significant substance use challenges to share their experience. The auto-ethnographic approach highlights the elements of one’s personal process of grieving the loss of one’s expected sense of reality and trajectory of life. The research engages in exploring the interconnectedness of these emotional experiences of loss, alienation, and distress, to increase understanding of professionals who interact with the social networks of those with significant substance use challenges.
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