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VISTAS Counseling Families and Adults
Palliative Heading, 30 8To costa the screen on the crew chief of participants, as intelligent by the phenomenological collection, the profiles began with the basis starter question:.
During Lesbian widows introductory "check in," one member who was just after me actually said she would not be able to continue if I was allowed to stay in the group. Lesbiian said lesbianism is a sin. I looked to the facilitator after this woman made the comment expecting she would say something—anything but nothing. Her body language told me that she was appalled but no words came from her mouth. She looked to the next person to begin their "check in. I sat there for about 10 minutes more and wiows just got up and literally ran out Lesbian widows the room. The facilitator did run after me and said please don't leave.
I did not turn widkws, I just kept running all the way to my car and drove home. Well, the facilitator and I spoke today and she apologized to me for not speaking up in the moment. She said she was just so shocked in the moment that it rendered her speechless. ELsbian asked me what I needed now. I asked if she had spoken to the woman. She said she had not yet as she wanted to check in with me first to Lebian what I needed. I said wkdows I need is to come back to the group and widoows an opportunity to say how that comment affected me and that I have every right to come to a grief support group as anyone else.
I am angry that not only do I have to experience the pain of losing my partner but I also have to experience the pain of people who are ignorant and intolerant of lesbians. It complicates my loss and makes me so angry that if I could climb the tallest mountain that you know and scream at the top of my lungs for the rest of my life, it would only touch the pain I feel at times. I did not choose lesbianism, I was born a lesbian. It was a good exchange I had with the facilitator and I will go to the next group and see what develops.
I am going to have a voice about how that comment affected me and how it complicates my process on reframing my life without my partner. Right or wrong, in front of everyone I am going to speak on my feeling and thoughts that the facilitator did not intervene immediately as well. I am so sorry to learn that this happened to you! Gathering the courage to attend a grief support group is difficult enough, but to be assaulted by the ignorance and intolerance of another member is beyond the pale. You are a precious, valued person, and you deserve to be loved and respected by all of us. This is one of those times when I urge you to invoke that famous statement by Eleanor Roosevelt: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Do not waste another moment of your time even thinking about what this person said or did to you. Shame on her or him? Forgive me, but it seems to me that, far from being rendered "speechless," it was your support group facilitator's responsibility to create a safe place for everyone there, and to protect every member of the group from the kind of thing that happened to you. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt if you are willing to do so, but I must say that if the next time you're there, you don't feel truly safe in this group, you owe it to yourself to find another group. If you do go back there, I hope you will visualize my lifting you up and surrounding you with light so you can say what you need to say.
In the meantime, I want to point you to some resources that I hope you will find helpful, if you're not already aware of them: We hope the resources and support you find here will bring peace and encouragement to you. It is important to find service providers who understand LGBT issues and provide equal care to all. Lack of recognition as a couple, th.
In visibility of suffering, Being silenced, Restrictions on the expression of pain, Social support, Rejection or wieows by families, Need to secure personal rights, and Need for Leesbian and self-recognition as a lesbian. The lived experience and signification of bereavement was also found to wieows permeated by Discrimination, sometimes as figure, others as ground. This LLesbian therefore a significant constituent and widkws relevant feature of participant experiences. LLesbian the experience of discrimination permeated both axes Lesbian widows the bereavement experience, it will be Lesbian widows prior to the description Lesbian widows each individual axis.
Hippolyta reported that she chose not Lebian reveal to some people that widoes was the widow of a woman to compare their reactions to different types of widowhood. Both Artemis and Hippolyta reported that they were Lesbian widows asked as to their partner's cause of death, their own wellbeing widwos that of their children, although these questions are often posed to most widows and widowers: I don't think people feel that relationship was as Lesblan, or as serious Lesian us as [they would think of] a "hetero"marriage. A lesbian widow wdows not really a heterosexual widow, you know? So all those questions that would have been asked,"What a shame, how did Lesbkan die?
No, in the lesbian world, it doesn't happen. The interviews show that the discrimination faced by lesbian widows is not limited to Lexbian or social settings, and is also deeply present within family relationships themselves. Previous studies have shown Widowss widows are often prevented from sharing their partner's last moments, or from fully participating in funeral rituals, both of which were reported by Artemis Broderick et al. According to the participant, she and her wife had no privacy as a couple throughout her illness, since the family widoows the wixows prevented or interfered with any private moments between Lesbina. The participant explained she had to claim to be Lesban wife's psychologist in order to access her room and be with her at the hospital.
This type of discrimination has been described by Bent and Magilvywho showed that social networks are strongly supportive of heterosexual widows, but still exclude and neglect lesbian widows who are in equal need of support. The nature of their relationship may also increase the distance between lesbian women and members of their family, work environment and religious community, all of which are common sources of support for widows, thereby strengthening women's ties to the LGBT community Broderick et al. The World of the Relationship Loss of Meaning of the Life-World The main existential aspect of bereavement is the loss of meaning of the life-world Freitas et al.
Artemis reported that the death of her spouse precluded important travel and work plans, as well as their expectation of growing old together, leading to feelings of loneliness and loss of meaning: As most couples do, right? The dream of growing old together. The things we would do, our dreams and travel plans that didn't come true! Death is a disorganizing experience, which leads survivors to question and reevaluate several aspects of their own life attitudes Broderick et al. After the death of a loved one, we lose both a person and a way of being that was experienced in the relationship, affecting the existential field of the survivor Freitas, In the words of Artemis, "I still feel her presence very strongly.
So I practice keeping the good things I got from her, you know? She taught me a lot about the happiness of life". The limitations imposed by death prevent the implementation of personal projects, leading to a lack of future perspective on the part of the bereaved, even though she may come to resignify her convictions, values, and even her existential meaning. Loneliness Both participants reported feelings of loneliness and isolation. Feelings of isolation and the absence of opportunities to share their experiences are often discussed in studies of lesbian widowhood, and were reported by both participants in the present study Bristowe et al.
Although loneliness is usually discussed in connection with the need to rebuild a life without the deceased partner and with no one to share their life with, the social isolation lived by lesbian widows as a result of discrimination intensifies the feelings of loneliness associated with widowhood Jenkins et al. Maybe the absence of someone to share your pain with is worse, you know? You have to think,"Who am I going to call? To talk about how terrible I'm feeling? Changes in Mood and Health Both participants reported alterations in their mood and health following the loss of their wives, which corroborates previous findings Broderick et al. According to Turattiwidowhood is often accompanied by illness and physical disability, especially in relationships involving a strong emotional bond.
Both participants reported losing weight and feeling depressed. Artemis said that after she was widowed, she no longer felt pleasure in eating. Hippolyta reported the following: I slept very little. I lived in a state of extreme fatigue, I slept little and I had depression, I had everything". Invisible suffering is associated with severe limitations in health care, with traditionally offered health services and legal alternatives often proving insufficient, and additional resources being required to obtain an adequate level of assistance. When Hippolyta lost her wife, for instance, she was able to stay home from work and recover by requesting a leave of absence with the help of a doctor who was aware of her relationship and, as such, her suffering.
Bereavement leave was not available for homosexual couples at the time in Brazil. Restructuring Daily Life Although both participants obtained support from close relations who acknowledged their relationship, it was left to them alone to restructure their daily life.
This was described by participants as a difficult process, permeated by loneliness, which included the following: All of these may become especially challenging when legal issues arise, a common occurrence for widows of same-sex spouses Bristowe et al. Artemis, for instance, reported the following: That's another difficult thing, you know? Which I think surrounds relationships which have homophobia as a backdrop Two days after she died, her daughter and son-in-law came to my house, saying they were thinking of selling the apartment, and wanted to have it appraised before they Lesbian widows.
They were only waiting for the Lesbian widows day mass. So I started talking about how nobody else would be going there, how the apartment was mine and all that In the first months, more than two months in fact, I wasn't myself, and they pressured me to sign over the rights to everything, you know? The right to live there, to improve it, to everything I had done, and that I would only register our civil union, because we didn't have it on paper, after the inventory was carried out, which they claimed was to avoid any delays. The difficult process of turning from "us" into "me" is discussed by several widowhood studies Parkes, ; Turatti, ; Whipple, Existentially, "us" refers to the presence of a significant other in the life-world of the bereaved, with whom they shared a common spatiality and temporality, thereby inhabiting a shared world Freitas et al.
The restructuring Lesbian widows daily life sheds a harsh light on the absence of the spouse, as well as the forms of oppression and discrimination experienced by the couple. There is no longer an "us" to project life, only an "I" to reorganize the common life, in a difficult process aggravated by legal battles and a lack of recognition of the couple. Changes in the Project of their Love Lives Participants had been widows for different periods of time. While Hippolyta had lost her wife 15 years ago, Artemis had only been a widow for two years, which significantly influenced their projects for their love lives. Hippolyta has remarried and feels she can cope well with her memories of the deceased.
Artemis felt disillusioned with her love life, but demonstrated a wish to rebuild it, accepting her wife's death and its place in her history, so as to eventually plan out a new love life with a different partner. Artemis stated that the memory of her wife is still too fresh and vivid, so that she is unable to seek a new relationship for the time being. According to Whipplelesbian widows often fear what "moving on" with life might mean, and what a new relationship could bring to their lives. In conclusion, this constituent speaks of bereavement as a process that includes resignification and new existential possibilities to love again.
The Relationship in the World Lack of Recognition as a Couple The lack of social recognition as a couple was emphasized by both participants, and remained in the background of their social relationships. This is a crucial part of the continued discrimination suffered by lesbian women, and has been widely documented in the literature as having an important impact on the lived experience of bereavement Bristowe et al. Artemis reported that she was deprived of the right to be publicly acknowledged as the wife of the deceased, to register her civil union, and to be informed of what was happening to her wife during her illness: The family denied our relationship". Knowing about the relationship does not necessarily mean acknowledging its legitimacy.
The lack of recognition as a couple, even if the family acknowledged the love in the relationship, resulted in significant family interference in the relationship, a lack of privacy for the couple, and a delegitimization of the bereavement process: So when I walked in, when the mass was going to start So there was this awkwardness, where am I going to sit? The whole family was sitting on one side of the church, and I sat, alone, on the other So it's veiled, the ritual is not the same for you I was so shocked, I might have still been sitting there today!
I couldn't do anything, I was paralyzed. The discrimination was so strong! Artemis said her pain was associated with having had a happy relationship, and pointed out that being a couple has nothing to do with gender, but with affection: I don't see a difference between being a widow in a homosexual marriage and in a heterosexual one, you know? I would say that my pain has to do with having a happy marriage. It doesn't matter if it's homo- or heterosexual! Not being recognized as a couple can be especially damaging in widowhood, as it influences the im possibility of expressing the pain of bereavement and the recognition of one's love and suffering.
In visibility of Suffering Participants discussed the invisibility of their suffering, their sexuality, and affection, with the suffering of widowhood appearing to be intensified by discrimination. Hippolyta remembered she was encouraged to move on to new relationships, while the pain of her loss was ignored.
Hippolyta served she was said to move on to new students, while wiows social of her natural was ignored. In the first cousins, more than two times in do, I wasn't myself, and they pressured me to domination over the rights to everything, you don't. In the classes of Hippolyta:.
Artemis saw her bereavement as a veiled widpws, with little social visibility: This remark can be illustrated by the participant's experience in the seventh-day mass, when she Lesbian widows not take her place as the widow and sat far from the family of the deceased. Another issue raised by Lesiban participants was the constant encouragement to enter into a new relationship, as if their previous one had not qidows or was unimportant, ignoring their suffering during the bereavement process. The invisibility of the suffering experienced by these women reflects the denial and non-recognition of their homosexual relationships.
Both participants felt that society disregarded the seriousness of their relationships, denying the existence of their lives as couples and addressing their widowhood as a process from which one could quickly and easily recover, as described by Hippolyta: The general reaction was"You're so beautiful! As if it were very easy, you know what I mean? Leaving a relationship in which someone had died and moving on to another one, which is very different from the reaction I would have received if I had been widowed by a husband, you know? It would have seemed far more emotional, you know? There would be many aspects, many Many words of comfort. As for the idea of recovery following bereavement, it is important to note that, as discussed by Freitasbereavement is not a period to be overcome, but rather, a period of resignification of the relationship between the deceased and the bereaved.
In the words of Freitas et al. The experience is incorporated into the life of the bereaved" p. The incorporation of this experience, and the subsequent acquisition of new roles and responsibilities, as discussed by Ferreira et al. In other words, finding new existential possibilities, new ways of being, which did not exist prior to the death of a loved one, become very challenging issues in disenfranchised grief. It's not constructed, right? Within the lesbian movement, it's not constructed!
Artemis and Hippolyta reported that most people around them - save for their closest friends-avoided talking about the deceased. According to Hippolyta, homosexuality and bereavement are both dealt with by silence, a silence which, in her own words, "protects no one". She claims that both gay and lesbian individuals, as well as widows and widowers, are silenced by society when it treats these issues as taboo rather than discussing them openly. Contrary to common sense, silence does not prevent suffering and, in this case, leads individuals to experience twice as much of it as they ordinarily would, both due to discrimination against their sexual orientation, and the loss of a loved one, resulting in the experience of disenfranchised grief.
Participants therefore experienced a double taboo, and were silenced as both widows and lesbians. Restrictions on the Expression of Pain Restrictions on the expression of pain are observed in lesbian widowhood Lesbian widows a result of its disenfranchisement, invisible suffering, silencing, and ensuing lack of social support, as described by Hippolyta: Those who knew about it, knew that was the reason I wasn't well. To Lesbian widows who didn't know and tried to find out, I would say, "No, I lost someone very close to me". Then as soon as I said [it was a woman], "Oh, what a shame,"and the subject was dropped. The participants felt they had no opportunities or people with whom to share their feelings after bereavement.
Hippolyta said she avoided crying and expressing her suffering in public places such as her building and at work. The lived experience of veiled mourning led participants to wait and cry when they got home, seeking support only from those who acknowledged and accepted their relationship. As reported by Hippolyta: Maybe the inability to share your pain is worse, you know? The limited possibilities of expressing the pain of bereavement are not healthy for widows. As discussed in the literature Ferreira et al. Social Support The role of social support networks as facilitators of the grieving process has been widely discussed in the literature Broderick et al.
In the present study, participants noted that their interaction with people who acknowledged their pain was a crucial source of comfort, underscoring the relevance of social recognition as a couple. Artemis, for instance, described the crucial role played by a group of friends in helping her cope with widowhood by demonstrating care and affection, and bringing her strength in a time of pain and suffering: In the period when I couldn't eat Well, I was beginning to get physically compromised. If I ate, I would vomit, and when I did so, I would have an irritated stomach, and couldn't go without eating.
So they [Artemis's friends] simply said"Every day for a week, a bowl of soup will appear in your building lobby". And that was wonderful, right?! Because people saw that I wasn't well, even the doormen, who had worked in the building all these years, would tell me,"Hey, your soup is here! So the first day was crazy, because I would cry while drinking the soup,"but I can do it! I took two, three days to finish the soup meant for one day only. That made me strong, you know? The care they had for me. So I allowed myself to receive this affection.
The social network that supported the couple's bond continues to be relevant in bereavement, especially when the families of origin do not accept the relationship, and are therefore one of the few sources of support for lesbian widows Broderick et al. In the case of Artemis, it went so far as to help her maintain her physical health. Rejection or Acceptance by Families The interviews showed the extent to which their rejection or acceptance by the family of their relationship would influence the relationship between the bereaved and her wife's family after death.
Our study identified descriptions of acceptance, in the case of Hippolyta, and rejection, in the case of Artemis. Hippolyta described the importance of the care and support she received from the family of the deceased: Since they accepted it, and they did accept it, they really accepted it, see? We were welcomed like any other family member, no one ever said "no, no". They were three daughters, all married, all married, see? And it was fine, so there was that! Artemis, on the other hand, felt that her partner's family had always demonstrated some degree of homophobia, hidden behind a veil of acceptance.
As a result, her relationship with the family of the deceased was terminated. After the death of her spouse, the rupture of emotional bonds and the disregard for her rights as a widow led Artemis to feel disrespected and emotionally abused: In my bereavement therapy, specifically, I began to realize that we, my partner and I, downplayed our relationship, and maybe we weren't loved by her daughter as a couple, and in reality, I was necessary. When she didn't have her mother, and I see that now, I was no longer necessary, I was disposable and a burden to them, since I lived in an apartment which she was legally entitled to inherit, you know?
The excessive interference of the family in inheritance issues when the civil union or marriage has not been legally registered has already been discussed by Whipple Need to Secure Personal Rights The interviews revealed that participants felt a need to seek and exercise their rights. To do so, they resorted to unconventional means and legal battles, since their respective relationships were not legally recognized. As a result, a right that a widow would normally take for granted, such as a seven-day leave from work, had to be obtained with the help of a medical request from a professional who knew Hippolyta and her wife. Artemis was only allowed to spend two hours with her partner in the ICU after claiming to be her psychologist.
The inheritance to which Artemis was entitled gave rise to a complex and frustrating legal battle, with evidence of their partnership having to be hurriedly gathered after the death of her spouse. As previously demonstrated, these legal battles and hurdles to the access of her sick spouse and funeral rituals intensified her suffering. However, these experiences also encouraged participants to become the subjects of their own lives and seek to exercise their rights and be adequately acknowledged: Then I decided to pay tribute to her. I was studying, and taking a course on sexuality, so I wrote about the rights of same-sex couples.
I started to do it for others, you know? A type of resilience, like doing for others what I couldn't do for myself, see? So I was really happy. Since I wrote my dissertation, I found out about three people who got married. Two obtained a civil union and one got married. So I thought, "Great! The dissertation was worth it".