Grief Reactions Associated with the Death of a Gay Partner
Some gay and lesbian relationships are supported by both partners’ families and
also have a strong social support network. In this situation the grieving
partner may have a relatively uncomplicated course.
Some special circumstances may make the situation very difficult for the
- Neither family nor friends of the deceased partner may be aware of the
relationship of an isolated or closeted couple. As a result the bereaved partner
may have no recognition or role in the funeral arrangements or grieving period
afterwards, which may cause anger and remorse.
- The bereaved partner may not know who they can confidentially turn to for
support because of the risk of revealing their sexuality. They may feel they
have to bear their grief alone.
- The nature of the relationship may only become apparent to either or both of the
two associated families around the time of the death. Each family may have it’s
own particular reaction to this sudden revelation which will need to be dealt
with by the surviving partner in addition to their grief.
- Families and friends may not appreciate the depth of grief which can accompany
the death of a gay or lesbian partner and may not give sufficient support to the
- The deceased partner’s family may never have accepted the relationship and may
actively exclude the survivor from all the arrangements.
- There may be no Will, or if there is one, it may be challenged by the deceased
partner’s family. Financial problems can also be encountered in dealing with the
deceased partner’s superannuation.
- The cause of death, such as suicide or AIDS, may lead to difficulties.
Coping with the death of a gay or lesbian partner