I am a gay guy.
I am also a trained funeral planner and authorized civil celebrant and I welcome calls from those partners, friends, family, colleagues and carers of deceased LGBTI people who are in the process of arranging a funeral or memorial ceremony.
At a time when your loved one has died, emotions can run high. For LGBTI people, those emotions can be exacerbated by how they are treated by those arranging the funeral. The time when a loved one has died is a time when people can be very vulnerable and exposed. One of the things gay couples tell us they want and expect is that they will be treated with respect and dignity at such a time.
From our experience, it’s a time when gay people rightly feel they should be able to take some things for granted. For example, they expect:
To not have to be careful about what they say or don’t say in arranging the deceased’s funeral.
The use of language that is appropriate: ie affirming, accepting and non-judgmental. They shouldn’t have to educate funeral directors, planners and celebrants about the type of language to use when dealing with them. They simply don’t have the energy or will to, in times of grief.
Their relationship with their loved one and their broader relationships with their same-sex friends to be warmly and naturally acknowledged and embraced, without judgement.
Their relationships to be recognized and their stories to be told – honestly.
An authentic ceremony that genuinely reflects the deceased, rather than a detached ceremony that could be about anybody.
To be not rushed or pressured into making decisions about the funeral arrangements or the ceremony.
To be centrally involved in the ceremony and to co-develop the funeral ceremony rather than have one drafted by family members that ignores the wishes of the deceased and is perhaps silent about their relationship.
Sensitivity and honesty in their dealings, rather than being made to feel like they come under some heading titled “other”.
To have control over the style and content of the funeral ceremony that reflect the wishes of the deceased – eg cremation or burial; music; readings; tributes – all of these are points that can add greatly to the funeral being an authentic reflection of the deceased.
As a gay funeral planner and celebrant, I am accustomed to treating people in the ways outlined above. As a member of the LGBTI community, I am highly aware of the importance of respectful, non-judgmental language, and of the family politics that often plays out around the death of our gay loved ones. I am committed to providing bereaved gay people a range of options that are their right, rather than as something they need to beg for or are too scared to ask about.
It’d be my honour to help you plan the funeral of your LGBTI loved one, and to create and deliver a funeral ceremony or memorial that accurately reflects their life.
Life Celebration Specialist – Bronte Price