WIDOWHOOD HAPPENS #1 Foreword
As a married woman, how could I possibly know how widowhood feels? I didn’t, so I asked. The frank personal stories the widows and widowers told me show that many of them didn’t receive the understanding that they needed from friends and relatives.
One of the intents of this book is to encourage people to heighten their awareness and sensitivity toward the problems that the widowed face. I asked experts in various fields—psychologist, lawyer, minister, priest and heads of self-help organizations—to share their knowledge.
There are no hard and fast rules. If you are facing widowhood you will handle your situation in your own way. Women are all different, and so are men. We have different personalities, different needs, and different reactions. We live in different circumstances, but when we are widowed we have a common problem.
It is important for us to realize we are not alone. There is aid and comfort in the community. We may have to reach out and ask for it, but it is there.
I also trust that these pages will dispel some fear. Knowing that others go through some of the same experiences may lead us to realize that this usually traumatic event is a passage. It’s a sudden change of lifestyle. One minute we are married, and the next minute we have joined a group. We are among the widowed. Membership is automatic. The price is high. We are no longer half a couple—we’re just one person.
It’s our choice. In most cases there is no one else to consider. Maybe this is the first time we have had a future plunked down before us with the message: It’s all yours. What are you going to do with it?
We were always someone’s daughter, someone’s wife, and perhaps someone’s mother. Conversely, someone’s son, someone’s husband, someone’s father. Now we have only ourselves (unless there are young children or elderly parents to care for). Is it enough?
We can make it enough, or, if we had the foresight, we planned for this eventuality.
That’s another point of this book. I want married men and women to plan for widowhood. Callous? I think not. Keep in mind that people are involved with us for only a while. We have our parents, our children, husbands and wives for varying lengths of time. Men usually die first, but not always. It’s a surprise ending, so it’s best if both spouses are prepared. That means financially, deciding in advance on burial, cremation, memorial or no services at all, making out Wills, and perhaps it means doing something in your married life that you want to continue doing when you are single again. Perhaps that something is an occupation, a hobby or a service. It provides continuity in your life, something pleasant from the past that is ongoing. Or it could be something very different, maybe an adventure.
I learned that some women feel strength after they deal with grief. They’re somewhat surprised by all the things they can do. They’re not dependent any more, and that’s a good feeling.
The widowed share a special growth experience. This sharing creates the bond. It’s time to think about it.
Widowhood is a new beginning.