Faculty Articles

Hidden Grief Is Complicated: Identity Concealment as a Minority Stressor and Relational-Cultural Barrier among Bereaved Sexual and Gender Minoritized Elders

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Psychology & Sexuality




Sexual and gender minoritized (SGM) elders who have lost or expect to lose a partner or loved one are at elevated risk for experiencing hidden or disenfranchised grief due to historical and current stigmatising social structures that lead to identity concealment. Identity concealment is associated with a range of negative health (e.g. depression, anxiety) and psychosocial (e.g. social isolation, lower sense of belonging) outcomes that may adversely affect one’s ability to cope with and recover from loss, yet little is known about the association between identity concealment and complicated grief. Guided by two empirically supported, complementary frameworks (i.e. minority stress theory and relational-cultural theory), this theoretical review increases understanding and awareness of identity concealment as a risk factor for complicated grief and other poor bereavement outcomes among SGM elders, with special consideration for intersections of gerodiversity. Such knowledge can help health professionals, policymakers, and other agents of change develop culturally responsive interventions that foster social, psychological, and physical well-being among bereaved SGM elders.



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