Is this really grief I feel?
The stigma surrounding gender transitioning is so great that I as a cis gendered female can only begin to imagine. When your spouse or partner decide that they can not walk by your side throughout your transition, it can feel devastating, and it can feel like the one person that you wanted or expected to be by your side has turned against your need to be and live as your own gender.
These feelings of lonesomeness are actually a form of grief and loss. Grief is not only felt during death. Feelings of grief can come when someone or something so significant in your life leaves you and is no longer supporting you. Grief can come with divorce and from losing the relationship you once had with your children.
Stages of Grief
The stages of grief still stand in these circumstances of grief and loss. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance don’t always come in that same order. They can express differently for each person. Each individual person may not feel every stage of grief either.
When your loved one will not accept that you are transgender, denial could come easily. You may find yourself feeling that they are just confused. They don’t really mean the hurtful things they may say. It’s important to know that over time loved ones level of accepting can change. It is possible that your parents or children will want to rebuild your relationship.
You may be angry that your loved one is not accepting of what you know is a change you have needed to make. Anger during grief can come directed at your loved one, or yourself. I feel this stage can be fleeting, or it can be lasting and you may come back to any of these stages more than once. The important thing is to not be angry with yourself, because you have taken the right path.
Bargaining can be harmful in this grief with the loss of a relationship with someone that is still living. Please keep in mind that you do not have to choose your loved one over being transgender. Someone that loves and respects you will be respectful of your path in life. It is possible to not have understanding or agreement with someone and still offer respect.
Depression that comes with the loss of a relationship with a loved one hurts and it stings and sends you into fits of crying or feeling numb. Grief and depression from grief can make you almost obsessed in wanting acceptance from the person you loved. It can make you feel pain and sadness that only a mother, father, spouse or partner can know.
Acceptance. Acceptance of the loss of relationships with a loved one during your gender transitioning may not ever be true acceptance. One someone’s loved one is taken by cancer, they can accept that that person has died. It may take a long time to accept that person is not walking beside them in person though. I have said that traditional grief after the death of a loved one can take up to two years or more to truly process.
But, It’s not really grief, they are still alive
Your grief is no different. Just because your loved ones are still alive , it doesn’t make your grief any easier. If anything, it can be harder to reach acceptance. Because sometimes you still yearn one day your loved one will show understanding, love and acceptance.
If you feel that you are experiencing grief and loss from losing a loved one during transition, reach out. I write here about finding a good therapist for you. I explore the steps to finding a good fit with a therapist in your area.
I truly hope this blog post has shown you that your feelings of grief are real and valid. I offer an ongoing transgender grief therapy group with more information here.