When my partner Mike died suddenly and unexpectedly, my world changed beyond anything I could have imagined. I can only describe it as like a bomb went off in my head. Mike went on holiday to Mexico and died in the sea. First I heard he was missing so I flew out there to look for him. I still know very little about what happened to him even though i went out there to look for him and after a week of searching, I had to leave Mexico without him. That was a tough experience. It took the Mexican authorities seven months to complete a DNA test on his remains and confirm his death. The aftershock of that “bomb” lasted for what seemed like at the time, forever.
Four years later and I have begun to process what happened in February 2017. I have had bereavement counselling which got me through the initial seven months and a year later I had another year of counselling at an amazing LGBT charity in London. And then, I realised I really wanted and needed to speak to other gay people about losing a partner. I had this feeling that talking to other people about their experience and sharing mine with them would help me to heal.
When I began to look for a group online, I was disappointed to realise that there were none. I thought I must be mistaken so I looked harder but found nothing. And then I was introduced to Rach, a friend of a friend who had tragically lost her wife last year to cancer. When we met (with our dogs) and shared our experiences, I instantly felt understood and so much of what Rach shared that day resonated with me and my experience. It is hard to explain the feeling that this connection gave me but I knew it was what I needed.
We both agreed that there was this huge gap in provision for gay people that had been bereaved and decided that if a group did not exist - then we would start our own. So, in the summer of last year - while Coronavirus was temporarily quiet, we set up the LGBTQ Virtual Cafe on zoom.
There is no judgement at the Cafe, just people from our community supporting one and other by listening and sharing (if you feel like you can) and plenty of compassion. It is peer run/led by Rach and me - experts only in our own experience of grief and loss.
If you feel like you want to talk about your experience of loss and grief, join us on a Wednesday evening at 7.30 for a chat and a (bring your own) cup of tea.