The Health Effects of Loss and Grief in LGBTQ+ Communities

The effects of bereavement on mental and physical health are significant. These include an increased risk of mortality, hospitalization, and clinical depression in the short term, as well as a variety of symptoms affecting physical, mental, and emotional health in the long term. The suicide of a member of the LGBTQ+ community has a ripple effect on the health of the community and society at large.

Minority stress is a concept that can help us understand the impact of suicide on LGBTQ+ communities. This concept is used to understand the health effects of stress caused by minority status. Suicide is a form of minority stress that affects the health of LGBTQ+ people.

The scale of pandemic-related death and grief in 2020 led to the addition of prolonged grief disorder to the DSM-5. For adults, a prolonged grief disorder is diagnosed when the deceased has been dead for at least a year and the bereaved experiences at least three of the following symptoms: identity disruption, a marked sense of disbelief about the death, avoidance of reminders that the person is dead, intense emotional pain related to the death, difficulty with reintegration, emotional numbness, or a feeling that life is meaningless. Prolonged grief disorder is differentiated from normal grief by the severity and persistence of these symptoms.

In the LGBTQ+ community, there is a lack of space and cultural competence to grieve, with many experiencing disenfranchised grief. This makes the grief experienced by LGBTQ+ people even more difficult to process and can have a lasting impact on their mental and physical health.

The effects of grief can be felt at a societal level, with employers providing little to no leave for bereavement. The author's own experience with grief and the lack of support from their graduate program is discussed, along with the added difficulty of experiencing a loss during the pandemic.

Overall, there is a need for more research and resources to address the effects of loss and grief on LGBTQ+ communities, and to provide support for those experiencing bereavement.

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