Perhaps in these condensations from the book, WIDOWHOOD HAPPENS, you have noticed that there is no formula for making it a breeze to sail through widowhood. There is no formula that fits all.

What I have done is show what others have gone through, and their approach to problem solving. For some it has been an agonizing voyage, for others, a minor inconvenience.

In this last chapter I have summarized what this book has shown us.

I found that planning for widowhood means realizing that you won’t be half a couple. It means making sure that there won’t be financial hardships. It means having interests of your own and having friends. The list can go on and on.

Faith is fine, but sensible planning is also a comfort. A realistic expectation is that you will have an emotional jolt, grief will probably be overwhelming, and your friends will offer support. Live through the grief. Handle it in your own way, then go on.

This new phase can open new opportunities, new freedom. It does not discount the life you had with your spouse, but that is now over. Life has drastically changed. Instead of being part of a couple you are suddenly single.

People who have gotten through the anger, bitterness and sorrow often surprise themselves by the things they are able to do—things they had never thought about doing. Both men and women can conquer helplessness.

Notice that I suddenly mentioned men?  After the first edition came out I realized that men also have problems when they are widowed. That brought out a second edition, and a name change to Widowhood Happens. It included two chapters about men. The one who was in his eighties had gotten used to living alone because his wife had been in a nursing home for years. The second, a man in his forties, had a terrible time accepting the fact that his young wife died unexpectedly during a medical procedure. Their reactions were both, understandably, very different.

Then there was a third edition after I felt the need to include a chapter about hospice. The goal of hospice is to give palliative care in order that the dying person may let go of life in a pleasant, comfortable place among people who care. Maybe that place is home.

One chapter in the book is titled What Have You Done to Prepare For Widowhood?  I asked friends this question because maybe strangers wouldn’t know how to react to such a question.  The answers were all different, reflecting the personalities of the husbands and wives who participated.

Jennifer was angry because she has always been able to fend for herself. She assumes that she will continue to do that. I brought up the possibility of her becoming incapacitated, if not through illness, then by accident. She refused to accept the premise. There would be no illness, no accident.

I told Fran, a delightful, bright, effervescent woman in her seventies, my question, and invited her out to lunch the following day.  That evening she said to her husband, “Let’s discuss a little bit about what’s going to happen if you die before I do.”

He didn’t like the question, saying, “You know there’s plenty to take care of you. You know where everything is. All you have to do is go to the safe-deposit box.”  Unfortunately, the safe-deposit box might be sealed and she would not be allowed to open it for a certain length of time, maybe months.  In some states they do that.

Fran was concerned more about personal things, such as where she would live. She didn’t want to live with their children, nor did she want to live alone.

Her husband remained annoyed.  “Why did you have to ruin the whole evening by talking this way?”

Albert, a man in his sixties, has not shoved the issue aside. “Both of us have realized that we have to go sometime. Once you realize that, it gets easier. Where are the Wills and insurance policies? That’s where you start.”

He has known many men who know nothing about the laundry or cooking, but he can‘t be accused of that. His wife is a career woman, and he’s a reasonable man, so he does his share of the work around the house. “We even wash our own clothes,” he said, “but the checkbook is the most troublesome.”

We won’t worry about Albert, except for the emotional impact.

Let’s all try to be like Albert. Let’s be practical as much as we can. And try to do something you’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t, because you thought it was unfair to go traipsing off on your own pursuits when your spouse was stuck in a job, or the children needed you at home.

Do something for yourself, maybe an exciting adventure. You deserve it.

—   – — — —

Note: WIDOWHOOD HAPPENS, by Gene K. Garrison is available

at bookstores, on Kindle, and just abut everywhere that you buy your books.

ISBN 13: 978-1460953945 and

ISAN 10: 1460953940



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