You can’t look in a room and know, for example, who is racialized, know who is disabled, know who is a lesbian, or bi or gay or who is trans. People’s identities are not always easily recognizable, and that’s kind of a laziness that people have relied on. They may say, “Oh I don’t see anyone with a disability, so we don’t have to do this,” or “I don’t see anyone who looks like they’re trans, so we don’t have to do pronouns.” We need to work on that.This resource has been designed to help you understand and care for yourself as you grieve. It was developed by the Canadian Virtual Hospice in collaboration with national grief specialists and 2SLGBTQ+ people who have experienced grief. We are grateful to those who shared their wisdom and experiences.
About this resource: Grief in 2SLGBTQ+ Communities
If you are someone who identifies as 2SLGBTQ+ and who is grieving the death of someone you care about, your grief is likely to include other losses, which may be unrecognized and unsupported, or might include having to disclose your sexual orientation or gender identity. When grief is dismissed, unacknowledged or unrecognized, it can lead to a sense of invisibility, isolation, or invalidation. These other losses may be connected to your gender identity and expression, or to other parts of your identity such as race, age, and life experiences. You may experience a range of thoughts and feelings that can change as time passes.
If you are an ally to 2SLGBTQ+ people, or want to become an ally, this information may deepen your understanding. For more information about being an ally, see “How to be an ally”:
We recommend that you review the nine Grief Basics modules found on our MyGrief.ca site:
As you read through this information…
You might be reading this when you are experiencing loss and grief in your life. You might be reading this before the death of someone you care about, perhaps shortly after someone has died, or maybe even sometime down the road.
We encourage you to revisit these resources often as you may only be able to absorb so much at any one time. What you find helpful may change over time. You might recognize your experiences or find that some of them aren’t reflected here. If there is content you believe should be added, please tell us about it in the survey at the end.
As you read this, you may have strong emotions or feel uncomfortable. It’s okay to step away from it for a while, or it might help to talk with a trusted friend or family member. Canadian Virtual Hospice provides online Discussion Forums where you can connect with others who may have experienced similar losses. You can also ask our healthcare team a confidential question at Ask a Professional. You will receive a written response within three business days (not including Canadian statutory holidays).
A note about language:
Transgender or trans is an adjective that refers to a person whose gender identity differs from the sex and gender assigned to them at birth. The terms transgender and trans are used interchangeably throughout.
Cisgender or cis is an adjective that refers to a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex and gender assigned to them at birth.
When we use the word family in this module we are referring to your birth family, your family through marriage, or your family of choice.
2S or “Two-Spirit” is a term used by some Indigenous people to refer to one’s gender identity in a way that does not necessarily refer to the binary genders of male and female.
Within Canadian Virtual Hospice resources, “2S” is placed at the beginning of “LGBTQ+” in recognition and honour of the cultural and historical place of Indigenous LGBTQ+ Peoples in the Americas.
Gender expression refers to how a person expresses or presents their gender identity through their name, behaviour, mannerisms and/or appearance.