Healing Series: Grief Part 1 with Janet Nordine, MS, LMFT

Today Janet Nordine, MS, LMFT teaches us all about grief. Perhaps some of the anger you’ve been experiencing is actually masking some deep grief. We talk about disenfranchised grief and why we think it is a critical topic for adoptees to understand.

Show Notes


Topics We Discussed

  • What is grief? “Any loss we’ve experienced” and as adopted people, we start grieving as soon as we’re removed from our mother
  • Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and her stages of grief
  • Untying knots instead of going stage by stage
  • Grief can be a gift because it means we have loved
  • Disenfranchised grief (originally coined by Kenneth Doka) to describe grief that is not acknowledged by society
  • Disenfranchised grief for adoptees - we’re supposed to be grateful for adoption, and view it as a blessing; if there’s mixed feelings, the feelings of loss are misunderstood by society.
  • Disenfranchised grief, left unacknowledged, can turn into depression, anxiety, PTSD
  • Grief masquerading as anger
  • “What’s under my anger”
  • Anger is a secondary emotion, fear and sadness can fuel the anger
  • What does acknowledging grief look like?
    • When your body and brain can work together and say “I fully accept myself”. Acceptance of self and acknowledging your emotions.
    • Acknowledging emotions makes you a stronger person - you are “recognizing who you are”
  • When we are in pain, our instinct is to resist. If you can feel the pain, it will help you more than it will hurt you.
  • “Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional”
  • Next steps:
    • Janet created a spot in her yard to remember her mother
    • Make a timeline and history of their life, creatively tell the story in pictures (cut out pictures from magazines)
    • Tell people you need support. Be honest with people about how you’re feeling
    • Get enough rest
    • Self compassion (different from self care)
  • Things you can say to a person you need extra support from
    • “I’m feeling very sad today, I’m missing my birth mother”
    • “I’m missing the idea of being with my birth mother”
    • “I’m just missing connection with where I came from”
  • “It’s up to us to explain how we feel”


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