When I wrote my first book Tips from Widows, I gathered advice verbally from 29 women who had lost their husbands. When I wrote my second, Tips from Widowers, I found that the 15 men felt more comfortable writing their feelings down for me, rather than speaking them aloud.
Widows and widowers, I discovered, do heal differently – and now a report backs this up. According to Independent Age, which surveyed more than 2,000 bereaved people aged over 65 from the UK, women are more likely to open up about their loss – but they also suffer greater feelings of loneliness.
More than half of women said speaking to friends helped them deal with grief, compared to a third of men. Indeed, 32 per cent of men did not turn to anyone for support after the death of a family member, compared to 18 per cent of women.
Yet, 30 per cent of women found loneliness the hardest thing to cope with, compared to 17 per cent of men. The report found that feelings of loneliness lasted, on average, for eight months but that a fifth of those bereaved still felt lonely after three years.
In my experience of speaking to widows, the problem for many is that their social life diminishes and, for some, stops altogether. Added to which, those widows who prioritised family over career can struggle with the financial implications and responsibilities left for them to sort out. Their status as a widow can sap their confidence and many never have another romantic relationship.
So for any woman (or man), young or older, currently suffering after – or preparing for the death of a loved one, here are some tips from real-life widows to help with the grieving process.
- It is absolutely essential to do one of the following two things if you know your partner is very ill. Set up a joint account and make sure that all Direct Debit payments for your family and household go through this (and not through a sole account in their name). Set aside a sum that you know will be sufficient to carry you through the worse-case probate scenario.
- Only if it is what you both wish, get married or become civil partners. Do so at once or at least make the appropriate pension nomination if that is what you both want.
- Encourage each other to talk about these matters well before either person has become too ill.
- In the very early days, the telephone will ring constantly. The emotional strain of answering every call will often be too great. It is a good idea to switch on your answerphone whenever you feel like it, or alternatively, to get a friend or adult child to answer on your behalf.
- Do involve your children in all the arrangements and decisions with regard to the funeral arrangements for their father; also, take your time, if you follow a religion that allows that.
- Do encourage grandchildren to go to the funeral or cremation. In the case of very young children, it is for the parents to decide whether they should attend.
- Don’t try to be too brave.
- Allow yourself to BE and not DO all the time.
- You will inevitably do some foolish things.
- Smile – it will make yourself look and feel better.
- Be a really good friend.
- Don’t be surprised to find yourself crying, even after many years.
- If you are still angry see your doctor . Listening to your anger is not much fun for your family or your friends.
- Recognise that fear and anxiety slows healing see your doctor.
- You are alive and your departed husband would wish you to embrace your remaining years.
- Be very careful when using internet dating. Both widows and widowers are more vulnerable.
- If as a widow, you do meet a lovely man, remember you can have intimacy with no sex [and sex with no intimacy!]
- You might be alone – but you have your precious self.
Complete Article HERE!