The Effects of Gay Partner Bereavement
The validation of relationships and the acknowledgment in life and of course death by society that we live is incredibly important. If you already have this you are in the majority and this will no doubt make life easier. The death of a same sex partner presents challenges that are little known
and rarely reported in the UK.
Having interviewed 30 gay bereaved men on a one to one basis to date it has become apparent these men in society are inspirational yet are currently un-heard by the same society. Not only have they lived through often-prejudicial times in attitudes through decades, they have also lost same sex partners in often tragic and unexpected circumstances whilst still young in body and mind themselves.Current research is HIV/AIDS-led with evidence rarely reported from other causes in an LGBT bereavement arena. HIV/ AIDS experiences are usually told from the viewpoint of the surviving partner who is also usually the caregiver during this difficult time. ‘Philip’ (40) discussed the physical deterioration of ‘Daniel’ (57) due to the virus in the days before medical advancement that is offered in the present day. Non – HIV/AIDS losses such as ‘Martin’ (32), who lost his partner to a heart attack, described in great detail the final days before and after the event relaying social events and even arguments they both had days before the loss. Words such as ‘scarred’ and ‘angry’ were commonplace on the voice recorder regardless of cause as were ‘resilience’ and now being a ‘survivor’. Many men lost their partners before the introduction of civil partnerships and discussed the frustration of having to deal with legal issues and unreasonable family members all fighting for prime position and having little respect for the surviving partner. ‘Philip’, said ‘I was fighting with his family over the funeral arrangements even though we had been together 15 years!’ Age and geographical location is also significant with little support being offered
for bereaved men in general in the UK.
‘David’ (73) who lost his partner of 30 years to a stroke said, ‘I’m utterly on my own, there are no gay support groups here where I live. It feels like we are invisible to the rest of society’. The men did not like the word ‘widower’ or ‘bereaved spouse’ but could not find a word that describes their new status. It is certainly not about simply ticking the
University of Liverpool study ﬁnds unique set of circumstances and lack of support
By Steven Piatczanyn, PhD Psychology Researcher, and Kate Bennett, Reader in Psychology and Chartered Health Psychologist, University of Liverpool