Widows affect the health of every marriage that has one in the family, for better or for worse.
I’ve had several widows in my life since my dad’s mother became a widow in 1966, when I was 11. Now 64, I have a perspective that has taken decades to form. Here is my take on widowhood, and I’m saying this partly to offer younger women something to think about as they approach their own widowhood, because the average wife outlives her husband.
During their prime years, wives are looking after children, a husband, and checking on parents. They are very busy on a relational level.
Suddenly the children are adults, and often don’t want advice from parental units. For some reason, a 19 year-old thinks that 8 other 19 year-olds know more than their parents.
Then the parents die. Another pair of relationships gone, completely extinguished.
Then the husband dies. This means a loss of companionship, a loss of focus, likely a reduction in income,
and a loss of power, because every married person is one of a pair.
And siblings die. The children may become the only close family the woman has.
So much busy-ness turns into so much emptiness, because every loss of relationship is also a loss of being needed by someone.
Some widows are gracoius and respect other people’s relationships. But some do not.
This can be hard on their adult child's marriage. No marriage is ever above counseling.
There is an old saying: 'One mother can take care of six kids, but six adult kids can't look after one mother.'
Widows do best when they are able to keep themselves occupied and do not hold others responsible for their personal happiness, apart from regular visits. Hobbies, helping others, and social mingling should all be developed as family obligations depart from us, as they must.
If we want to feel needed, then we must offer something that someone really needs. And that needy person may not be a relative.
Tabitha, in Acts 9 of the New Testament, was likely a widow, but kept busy sewing garments for the poor. And she was deeply loved by many.
Conversely, Mary Todd Lincoln did not fare well as a widow. Her son had her own committed to an insane asylum.
This can apply to widowers as well.
Eric J. Rose