"My religious beliefs led me to break ties with my lesbian daughter years ago. How can I reopen our relationship now?"
Our daughter came out to us nearly a decade ago, and because of our devout Catholic beliefs my husband and I didn’t continue a relationship with her. Actually, this decision was more of my husband’s doing. Now we hear that our daughter’s partner has passed and there will be a memorial service. We understand that there will be many homosexuals there and that the minister will be from a gay church. I would actually like to go as a way to pay my respects to my daughter and perhaps to reopen our relationship. My husband is adamantly opposed, saying it would be hypocritical for us to attend a service that affirms their lifestyle. What do you suggest?
Here’s the short answer. You go. Your husband can stay home.
Here’s the longer answer: Death is often a wake-up call in families, reminding us once again that life is precious and very short. You’ve already missed out on ten years of your daughter’s life—and she on ten years of yours—so why not go for it? In order to reestablish a relationship with your daughter, you don’t need to support LGBT rights or violate any of your beliefs. You may not be aware that the Catholic Church doesn’t prohibit you from attending a gay funeral, and that your presence doesn’t imply tacit support for LGBT issues (unlike attending a same-sex wedding, which the Vatican condemns). When you go to a memorial service (or funeral), it means that you’re showing that you care, and that you want to say good-bye. It also indicates that you want to give comfort to survivors, such as to your daughter.
In a sense you’re fortunate that etiquette gives you a relatively easy pass card here. It’s simply good manners to show up at a family memorial service, and in doing so you’ll have wedged open the door without having had to initiate what would no doubt be a difficult conversation. In this case, actions speak louder than words. Then it’s up to each of you to decide whether you want to go further. This includes your husband.
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