Till death do us apart- The effects of widowhood

  • By Team TDO

When one is widowed, it is a huge loss. The effect can be so severe that it can lead to death of the remaining spouse too. The chances of death of the surviving spouse are highest in the first three months! This is called the widowhood effect.

Ancient Indian practice of Sati involved the wife burning herself at her husband’s pyre. This was because the woman was considered to have no life once her husband died. Though the horrific method of self immolation no longer exists, the wife does die soon after her husband passes away.

This is a real phenomenon. Interestingly this phenomenon affects men equally, if not more than women.
The bereavement from the spouse can be very disturbing especially in old couples who have spent a lifetime being married to each other.

Widowhood effect may be seen by romantics as something like eternal romance. The truth is that it is a disturbing reality. Bereavement can attack very deeply and can lead to drastic effects! Help widowers overcome their loss, be a positive source of encouragement and support!

According to research studies elderly men have a 22% higher chance of dying soon after their spouse dies, as compared to women. Traditional gender roles play a part here. Women seek connection when they lose their spouses. They reach out to people for support and strength. Men do not do so. They lack the ability to ask for help and wallow in their own grief.
The grief of losing a spouse in old age can be overwhelming, especially for those who are unable to lean on others for support. A good planning is essential for a happy retirement - not only the financial and health related planning but also the mental and emotional planning. It also requires that old people be involved with others and with activities that allow them to continue to grow. These support structures are vital to helping old people weather the storms of loss that come with retirement. Another resource that older adults have for helping them deal with the loss of a spouse or loved one is friends, peers, and siblings who have been through a similar situation. Support groups help in dealing with the emotional fears and anxieties that come with old age. Finding someone who has been through a similar situation and survived can be a great balm for one’s fears and apprehensions.