LGBT+ partner bereavement and appraisal of the Acceptance-Disclosure Model of LGBT+ bereavement: A qualitative interview study

Katherine Bristowe, Liadh Timmins, Debbie Braybrook, Steve Marshall, Alexandra Pitman, Katherine Johnson, Elizabeth Day, Paul Clift, Ruth Rose, Deokhee Yi, Peihan Yu, Wei Gao, Anna Roach, Kathryn Almack, Michael King, Richard Harding

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Background:Support from social networks is vital after the death of a partner. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT+) people can face disenfranchisement and isolation in bereavement. The Acceptance-Disclosure Model (of LGBT+ bereavement) posits that experiences are shaped by the extent to which individuals feel able to disclose their bereavement to others, and whether that loss is acknowledged appropriately.
Aim:To explore LGBT+ specific experiences of partner bereavement; determine decision-making processes regarding disclosure of relationships/identities; and appraise the Acceptance-Disclosure Model using primary qualitative data.
Design:Exploratory in-depth qualitative interview study positioned within a social constructivist paradigm. Data were analysed using inductive and deductive reflexive thematic analysis.
Setting/participants:21 LGBT+ people from across England bereaved of their civil partner/spouse.
Results:Participants described LGBT+ specific stressors in bereavement: lack of recognition of their loss; inappropriate questioning; unwanted disclosure of gender history; and fears of discrimination when accessing support. Disclosure of LGBT+ identities varied across social networks. Some participants described hiding their identities and bereavement to preserve relationships, and challenging intersections between LGBT+ identities and other aspects of culture or self. These findings provide primary evidence to support the Acceptance-Disclosure Model.
Conclusions:LGBT+ people face additional stressors in bereavement. Not all LGBT+ people want to talk directly about their relationships/identities. Sensitive exploration of support needs, aligned with preferences around disclosure of identities, can help foster trust. Five recommendations for inclusive practice are presented. Further research should consider whether the Acceptance-Disclosure Model has utility to explain bereavement experiences for other isolated or disenfranchised groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-234
Number of pages14
JournalPalliative Medicine
Issue number2
Early online date25 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2023


  • Original Articles
  • Bereavement
  • LGBT
  • spouses
  • sexual and gender minority
  • qualitative research
  • Grief
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities
  • Humans
  • Female
  • Qualitative Research
  • Disclosure


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