One of my church friends has lost her partner of 30 years. They are older lesbians and have never lived together (not being open about their relationship for many of those years) and never married. Her partner has been ill and in a local palliative care hospital. My friend was not at her side when she died at 9:30 this morning. Her partner’s sister has kicked her out of the hospital room a couple of days ago. I’m not sure if she tried to get the hospital staff to allow her in anyway, or what. Perhaps she was not in an emotional place where she wanted to fight.
M. found out by checking the messages on her phone just before the service started this morning. At least someone called. The minister prayed with her at communion. And friends in the church comforted her after the service. As she noted, at least she was in church when she found out.
This is what relationship recognition means. Recognizing M.’s grief as real and legitimate. And her love and support for her dying partner as real and legitimate. We’re on our way to this. But we still have a way to go.