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With Those That Mourn

I just watched the documentary Bridegroom.  It's a very poignant story about a couple in love and then the one man dies in an accident.  It's a tale of two very talented, friendly, loving men who fell in love.  It's very sad.  Most of the movie is sad.  I spent a lot of time crying.

For me, it was very personal because I could relate very well to Shane because I lost the person I was in love with as well.  I cried while watching the film.  It was very powerful.  It was very emotional.  It was a cathartic experience.  I felt angry.  I felt sad.  I felt empowered.  There were many things I felt.  And I still feel them.

I lost my wife to cancer 5 years ago.  It's actually rather odd to think that it's been that long, but it has.  And so I can relate to the heartbreak that Shane felt when Tom died.  But, can I really?  The documentary isn't about Shane losing Tom.  It's not about one man dying and leaving the love of his life alone.  It's about two men who are denied the benefits of marriage by society, told by society and their own family that the way they love is unacceptable.

I cannot say I know how Shane feels.  When Karen died, I had every legal right a surviving partner could ask for.  I planned every detail of her funerary services.  I picked out her casket, I picked out her burial plot.  I chose the spread for the top of her casket.  I picked out the programs.  I planned the program--picked the speakers and even requested that the trombone choir she participated in play a special piece to honor her.  I wrote her obituary.  I chose to be a pall bearer, with all of her brothers.  There was never a question of whether I would be in attendance at her funeral.  I spoke at her funeral, by my own choice.  I picked out the headstone and decided how her name and mine would appear on it.

Shane didn't have this right.  He didn't even have the right to be at the side of his dying boyfriend's bed in the hospital.  He only got to see Tom because one of the nurses snuck him back there, even though it was against hospital rules because Shane was not legally family.  Shane didn't get to plan the funeral.  He didn't get to decide anything.  He didn't even get to attend the funeral.  Tom's family literally threatened to attack him if he showed up at the funeral.

Losing Karen was hard.  Being banned from all of the funerary services would have compounded the pain.  It would have made it more difficult for me to feel any kind of closure.  I cannot fathom the pain that Shane felt as all of these events unfolded in his life.  I cannot imagine his grief.

What I can say is that watching the movie made me sad.  And it made me realize that sometimes people are sad, and that's okay.  So often we think that when someone is sad they need to be cheered up.  I don't think so.  I think that sometimes when we are sad we need to be sad.  Sometimes when you see someone mourning, you should mourn with em rather than attempt to pull em out of the sadness.  When someone is happy, we do not often feel a need to make them stop being happy.  So why do we feel this need when someone is feeling sad?

As biological creatures, there is a broad spectrum of emotions that we feel.  We feel happy, sad, grumpy, angry, joyful, despondent, generous, miserly, and many other feelings.  Why should we pretend that some of our emotions don't exist, or have less merit in contributing to the human experience?  I often try to cheer people up when they are sad.  But maybe I should try to feel sad with people who are sad.  And to feel happy with people who are happy.  To feel an emotion and experience it, rather than to hide from it and deny it.

I recommend the movie to anyone who hasn't seen it.  I recommend it to anyone who wants to see why marriage equality is such an important issue to me and other queer people.  I recommend it for the catharsis.  I recommend it for the pain and suffering, and for the humanness, the humanity, that is portrayed.  These are two men who are very beautiful on the inside as well as on the outside.  It is a story of their love for each other.  It is a story of pain.  It is a story of tragedy.  Watch it and feel the emotions that Shane, his family, and friends felt.  And mourn.

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