Thursday, February 26, 2009

Unacknowledged Loss and Grief

Recently I noticed an article in the opinion section of our local newspaper written by the syndicated columnist Leonard J. Pitts, Jr. It caught my interest because of the subject matter. The title is: There's Nothing Moral About Hating Gays. I agree with the sentiments expressed by Mr. Pitts but something else in the column struck a chord.

In the article he described a situation where a lesbian couple went on a cruise with their children. One of the partners had an aneurysm and was taken to a hospital. The other spouse, who is an emergency room social worker, was told by the hospital social worker "I need you to know that you are in an anti-gay city and state and you won't get to know about Lisa's condition or see her." The social worker then walked away. Janice, the worried spouse, spent 8 hours in the waiting room and did not get to see Lisa until the priest was administering last rites. Lisa spent all that time without the benefit of a partner of twenty years being at her bedside.

Ken Doka (1989), in his book Disenfranchised Grief, describes this phenomena as situations when the loss cannot be openly acknowledged, socially sanctioned or publicly shared. The story of Lisa and Janice is a prime example of a relationship not being recognized. In pursuit of one's personal code and opinions those who practice a different lifestyle are subjected to cruelty. The loss of a life partner is devastating enough with out being complicated by callousness and dismissal. My reaction to the story was outrage and sadness because I know this is not an isolated case.

In my capacity as grief counselor at Cottonwood de Tucson I have been given the privilege to support grievers in the expression and processing of a variety of losses. I am grateful that I work for an organization that recognizes the humanity of our patients without exception. It is my hope that people will become more educated regarding more appropriate ways to support those in pain.

Dan Stone LCSW, LISAC, CT
Marketing Representative
Cottonwood de Tucson
4110 West Sweetwater Drive
Tucson, AZ 85745
Toll Free (800) 877-4520

http://www.cottonwoodrecovery.com/

1 comment:

  1. It is sad that in this day and age we are still have harassment about what we believe or the lifestyle we choose. To me the bottom line is, whether you agree with someone's lifestyle or beliefs, they are still a human being just like the rest of us and deserve respect, rights, and fair treatment.

    Dan Cook LMSW

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