WPP 031: LGBTQ youth and grief with Bridget Hughes and Lizzie McAdam from the Hetrick-Martin Institute

Just like your child needs to be with other teenagers who’ve experienced parental loss, a death in the family, your LGBTQ teenager needs to find other LGBTQ teenagers. And that connection is the thing that’s going to not just get them through, but make them whole.
— Bridget Hughes

I had such a great discussion with Bridget Hughes and Lizzie McAdam of the Hetrick-Martin Institute for this episode. We talked about LGBTQ youth and grief. I’m so glad we covered this topic for a couple of reasons: first, because there are some unique issues for parents to be aware of in case they have an LGBTQ teen who is grieving; and second, because having a kid come out can feel like unfamiliar territory, like a whole new challenge for the surviving parent to handle alone, without their parenting partner. It can feel overwhelming to figure out how to support your kid when you’re already dealing with so much on your own.

Bridget and Lizzie and I talked about so many things, including:

  • The importance of identity development during the teen years and how losing a parent affects that;

  • What other types of losses LBGTQ youth face that are important for parents to understand;

  • Mental health issues that LGBTQ youth are more at-risk for;

  • How LGBTQ youth are more at-risk for social isolation;

  • Challenges in coming out to straight peers and navigating social environments such as school, camps, sports, and other youth activities that tend to be sex-segregated;

  • How social or family pressure to live a hetero-normative lifestyle can affect LGBTQ youth;

  • Ways the LGBTQ community has developed over time to deal with community-level grief;

  • The importance of LGBTQ youth getting support from other members of the LGBTQ community; and

  • Where parents can find support for themselves in understanding and supporting their LGBTQ teens.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Bridget Hughes and Lizzie McAdam.

Links & resources for this episode

Hetrick-Martin Institute
National Alliance for Grieving Children
New York Life Foundation
Andrew Solomon
PFLAG - resources, information, and support for parents
GLSEN: Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network

More links for listeners

Get my guide “What I’ve learned about widowed parenting”
Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - first Sunday of each month
Jenny’s interview on the Life Through Transitions podcast

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