Hands creating a love heart with a rainbow flag in the background to represent support for the LGBTQIA+ community

Pride Month: Advice from WAY members for supporting bereaved children who are LGBTQIA+

This Pride Month, WAY Widowed and Young members have shared some tips about helping bereaved children who are questioning their sexuality or gender identity. We start with one Mum’s experience of supporting her daughter’s LGBTQIA+ journey…

“My husband died when my daughter was 12 years old. It was very sudden and took a long time for myself and my family to adjust. Raising tweens and teens in this modern world is challenging at best; raising grieving tweens and teens is even more so.”

When my daughter was 14, she wrote me a letter explaining that she was ‘sorry’ and that she is bisexual as she liked both boys and girls. She was sad because she felt she was letting me down and because she might not be able to give me grandchildren!

WAY Member

“It came as a bit of a bolt out of the blue and I did find it overwhelming to think this was something else we would have to navigate together, along with an overwhelming fear of getting it wrong as a solo parent.

I was really pleased that she had felt able to tell me, but so sad that she felt that it would even be an issue. I was able to reassure her that she wasn’t in any way letting me down and that grandchildren wasn’t an issue – that I loved HER and nothing was going to affect that.

I did also talk through the fact that many teenagers explore and question their identities and that it was OK and absolutely normal to do so. I reassured her too that her dad would also have been supportive – I can’t remember whether she asked that directly or whether I just assumed that she would also be wondering how he would have reacted.

Several years on, my daughter is currently in a same-sex relationship and has had nothing but support and acceptance from our family and close friends, for which I am extremely grateful. Despite the fact that society has moved forward in so many ways around tolerance and acceptance of LGBTQIA+ matters, there is still a long way to go. All I want for my daughter is a happy and healthy life with as few negative obstacles as possible – it’s all any parent should want.”

My advice to other parents is to keep communication open – it’s not always easy with teenagers, but especially when they’ve taken the brave step to open that communication, it’s important to enable it as much as possible.

WAY Member

Tips from fellow WAY members for parents and carers of young people who are questioning their sexuality and/or gender identity

“Ask if there are any resources your child would like you to look at, ranging from online posts to books or specific organisations.”

“Ask if there are active things you can do to support them, such as taking them to an LGBTQIA+ youth group or taking them clothes shopping if they want to buy new clothes or accessories to explore their gender expression.”

“Ask how they’d like you to talk to family or family friends – they may want to keep things private as they explore or they may want to make an announcement. Follow their lead.”

“If they’re questioning, try to make home a welcoming space to try out different identities, names, pronouns, etc.”

“Try to stay up-to-date on news about LGBTQIA+ issues. News about possible changes in law or policy, or news of hate crimes, can be very stressful for young people coming out or questioning. It can make a big difference if you’re able to have an informed and reassuring conversation with your child, if they want to talk about it.”

“If your child is grieving a parent or sibling, they may think a lot about how that person would react, but be unsure how or if to ask about it. If you feel comfortable, initiate a conversation about how you think that person might have felt. Maybe encourage your child to write a coming out letter to them, or have a letterbox where they can put small notes or letters about their coming out milestones, such as first date with someone of the same gender, wearing makeup in public for the first time, their first Pride event, etc.”

“Due to prejudice in the outside world, no matter how much your child knows you love them, they might worry their identity will change how you feel about them. Reminders are always welcome, make sure you express your love ‘louder’ than any worries or uncertainties you have.”

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About WAY

The WAY Widowed and Young community offers a safe space to talk to other people (both with and without children) who understand how it feels to be widowed at a young age.

Find out how WAY can support you at www.widowedandyoung.org.uk.

LGBTQIA+ resources for young people and their carers

LGBT Switchboard: https://switchboard.lgbt/

The Proud Trust: https://www.theproudtrust.org

The Be You Project: https://thebeyouproject.co.uk

LGBTQ Youth Scotland: https://lgbtyouth.org.uk

Mosaic Trust:https://www.mosaictrust.org.uk

Gendered Intelligence: https://genderedintelligence.co.uk

Mermaids: https://mermaidsuk.org.uk

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