K…’s Grief

I keep thinking of a line I read in the obituaries of M… one half page in the Los Angeles Times and about the same in the New York Times, a line that said she had no survivors. I hadn’t realized she was as accomplished and had done as many things. She was a friend of a friend, Gloria, and that is how I had met her several years ago. M… didn’t rest on past laurels, but was struggling to move forward and as an older woman in Hollywood, that was a challenge. Every time I saw her she was with K… and the harmony between the two was so strong it was palpable. That’s how Gloria came to tell me they’d been together for several years and were indeed devoted to each other. K… came from a family with a name that’s well known, a family that didn’t believe in gay marriage, and so out of respect to K… and her family they kept their relationship as discreet as possible—just as out of the same respect I feel the need not to mention her name. I remember once being seated next to K… at a dinner and sharing what a loving couple she and M… made. “That’s because we’re very good friends,” she smiled. They were so close I more than once heard one finish the sentence of the other. And yet for all that M…’s obituary said she had no survivors, and it said too that it was her publicist who had announced her death. I hadn’t seen either K… or M… since Gloria’s death some 3 years ago, but through the grapevine of acquaintances I knew they were as close as ever. I felt sad to read about M… but my heart went to K… It’s so painful to lose a spouse, whether that person is legally designated as such or not. And yet K… couldn’t grieve the way Gloria did when her husband died or others I have known. In death as in life her relationship to M… had to be circumspect and discreet.

K… isn’t alone. How many in the LGBT community who aren’t out for whatever reason, are forced to bear their grief in a much more solitary way than the rest of us? When one witnesses or hears about a situation involving grief, the grief seems easier to bear when it’s that of someone one doesn’t know. Then it seems more remote, impersonal, virtual, second hand, but having met K… her grief felt real to me and somehow in this particular instance that made the similar plight of those I don’t know but who are in the same circumstances real too.

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