At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling), I spoke with Doneley Meris about the struggles and discrepancies those in the LGBT community deal with during end of life.

Individuals who identify gay, bisexual, lesbian, or transgendered, are still looked at differently at the end of their lives despite the fact that there’s been a lot of advances in the area of same sex marriages and equality.

The stigma and discrimination is still present when dealing when end of life situations. Doneley goes into more detail about this in the video below.

Here are some key takeaways from the video:

  • Even after tragedies like 9/11, loved ones were still not treated like family if they were not legally married, even if they had been with each other for years.
  • After 9/11, Doneley ran a support group for LGBT men and women who were facing challenges reaching out to the services that everyone else was entitled to. Because they identified as LGBT in New York City, they had more of a challenge accessing mental health and social services.
  • Those individuals went to the organization that Doneley worked with to get support services and bereavement counselling.
  • If you’re in need of Doneley’s services, he runs a private practice in Tribeca in New York City. He also runs an organization called the HIV Arts Network which provides supportive services to men and women living with HIV in the arts community.
  • Doneley’s final message, not just to the LGBT community but to everyone, is to be real about death and dying. It’s something we will all experience, so we should all be having more conversations with each other about it.

For more video interviews, please see the Open To Hope YouTube channel.

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Heidi Horsley

Dr. Heidi Horsley is an international grief expert, licensed psychologist, and social worker. She is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Open to Hope Foundation, one of the largest internet grief resources, with over 2 million yearly visitors. She hosts the award-winning Open to Hope cable television show and podcast. Dr. Heidi is an adjunct professor at Columbia University. She serves on the ‚ÄčNational Board of Directors for The Compassionate Friends, the largest peer to peer support organization in the world. She also serves on the National Advisory Board for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). TAPS has served over 50,000 military families who have suffered a loss. In addition, she serves on the National Advisory Board for the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, and the Children's Brain Tumor Foundation. Dr. Heidi is on the VIP section of Marquis Who's Who in America, Madison Who's Who, and Who's Who of American Women. Dr. Heidi has co-authored eight books, including; Spouse Loss; Fresh Grief; Inspirational Stories for Handling the Holidays After Loss; Inspirational Stories of Healing After Loss; Real Men Do Cry; A Quarterbacks Inspiring Story of Tackling Depression & Surviving Suicide; Teen Grief Relief: Parenting with Understanding Support and Guidance; and Signs and Hope From Heaven. She has appeared on the ABC television show 20/20, has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, and has been a guest on hundreds of radio shows as well as quoted in dozens of media publications, including the Metro World News, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Newsday, Money Magazine, and New York Daily News. Dr. Heidi is also the author of numerous articles and academic book chapters. Dr. Heidi gives keynotes, presentations, and workshops throughout the country, and teaches continuing education workshops for health care professionals on support following trauma and tragedy. For 10 yrs., Dr. Heidi worked as a co-investigator for the FDNY-Columbia University Family Guidance Program; a study which looked at traumatic loss in families of firefighters killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Through this 9/11 study, Dr. Heidi provided ongoing intervention and follow-up to firefighter widows and their children, and facilitated groups for bereaved siblings. In addition, Dr. Heidi supervised the school social work staff at Harlem Democracy Charter Schools in NYC for four years. Dr. Heidi's early career included work in a variety of clinical settings, including; Manhattan Psychiatric Center, California Pacific Medical Center Psychiatry Dept., University of San Francisco Mental Health Clinic, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Psychiatry Dept., and Hope Haven Residential Treatment Center in New Orleans. Her doctoral dissertation was on the sudden death of a sibling. Her academic credentials include a doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) from the University of San Francisco; a Masters degree in social work (LMSW) from Columbia University, and a Masters degree in mental health counseling (MS) from Loyola University, in New Orleans. Dr. Heidi splits her time between NYC and Tucson AZ.

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