Deathcare Cautions from Orlando

Shortly after Omar Mateen started, and police ended, his deadly rampage in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the work of making arrangements for the victims would have started.

Forty nine people–mostly men, mostly gay–were killed, along with the perpetrator.  Like other deaths (en masse or singular), after the death, the next of kin would be identified, and decisions about body care and disposition start.

Unlike other deaths, though, there could be landmines waiting for the Pulse victims, familial issues complicating the decisions, especially if the family wasn’t fully accepting of their loved one’s sexuality or relationships.

As we try to absorb these details, it’s hard not to wonder what will happen next to the victims. Did they have relationships with their families? Who will receive their remains, and how will their lives together be honored? These questions may be deeply personal, but for queer couples who have faced violence and tragedy, they’ve also been inevitable and inescapable for decades. These concerns, in part, helped gestate the push for marriage equality, especially during the height of the AIDS crisis, when many families opted to mask sexuality and long-term relationships. The legal status of the Orlando couples isn’t clear. But while mourning is always unimaginable and complicated, for many of these victims, there will be yet more indignities—as if their murders weren’t enough.  From Slate


Any couple not legally married, or any single person with a troubled relationship with their parents (for whatever reason) is at risk for the same kind of indignity and chaos.   Legally, your next of kin have responsibility for carrying out your deathcare–but what if they aren’t religious, and you were?   Or of different faiths?

Or worse, the ones making the decisions don’t accept the deceased’s sexuality or gender status–which could lead and has led to significant others and/or life partners being banned from funerals, and transgender people being presented as the wrong gender during funeral/burial.


Thankfully, at least in the case of one couple who both perished in the Orlando shooting, their families are ensuring that their funerals join them as the marriage they didn’t get to have.


Image from

Juan Guerrero and Drew Leinonen, a couple for 2 years before they were killed, were buried together by their families.

…(A)fter both their deaths were confirmed, the families said they planned to hold their funerals together to celebrate the life they might have shared. “If it’s not a funeral, they were going to have a wedding together,” Aryam Guerrero said.

“I think my son wanted to do that,” the elder Juan Guerrero, 61, added. “That’s why. I don’t care what the people think. I don’t care.”

A bittersweet ending to an awful event.


Do you have reason to worry that the choices made for funeral and deathcare won’t respect and honor who you were?  Does thinking about who will serve as your next of kin stress you out?

There are easy, simple solutions to the problem, but they have to be done ahead of time!   Want to know more?    Contact me, and let’s talk about it.


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