A widow is a woman who has lost her spouse due to death. Likewise, a man who has lost his spouse is called a widower. Widower, as opposed to widow, is gender-specific and is therefore the appropriate term to describe a man who has lost his spouse.
The word “widower” comes from the Old English word “widuwier,” which means someone who has become separated from his sorrows. This Old English term comes from the Middle English word “widwe,” meaning “widow,” and the Old Germanic word “wer,” meaning “man.”
Understanding a Widower’s Grief
When a spouse dies, grief can hit the surviving partner differently. Men and women may express and handle their emotions differently. Widowers, for instance, may try to suppress their feelings of grief, making it difficult for them to open up and talk about their feelings. They also may feel isolated as their support systems may fall apart, leaving them alone to manage their grief.
Factors that Affect Grief in Widowers
Several factors may influence a widower’s grief, including:
- Their age
- Their spouse’s cause of death
- The length of their marriage
- Their social support system
- Their relationship with their children
The challenges that accompany losing a spouse are significant, and they can worsen if the husband feels that he must hide his feelings from others.
How to Support a Widower
People who want to help men deal with their grief after losing a spouse should be patient, understanding, and caring. Knowing how and when to offer support, as well as providing practical assistance, is extremely helpful.
Tips for Providing Support to a Widower
Here are some ways to support a widower:
- Offer to run errands or help with household chores
- Invite him to social events and encourage him to stay connected with family and friends
- Listen to him and encourage him to talk about his feelings
- Help him take care of himself, such as joining him in exercise, going to the gym together, or providing meal options
- Help him overcome fear and guilt as he starts to explore new relationships
Grief is a long road to recovery for many widowers. It is essential to understand that they need patience, empathy, and consideration.
A widower is the term used to describe a man who has lost his spouse. Widowers have unique struggles during the grieving process, and it is helpful to show empathy and kindness to them. Being open to listen and assist them in practical and emotional ways can make them feel understood and supported.
FAQs about Widowers
Here are the most frequently asked questions about widowers:
- Q: How many men become widowers each year?
- A: In the United States, more than 1.3 million men become widowers each year.
- Q: How long can a widower grieve?
- A: Grieving is a personal experience, and there is no one-size-fits-all parameter for when a widower should finish grieving.
- Q: Can widowers feel lonely and isolated?
- A: Yes. Many widowers feel lonely and isolated because they have lost their closest companion.
- Q: How many men remarry after losing a spouse?
- A: According to a study from the Pew Research Center, around 61% of widowers eventually remarry.
- Q: How can you help a widower?
- A: Listen to them as they talk about their feelings, offer practical assistance, and provide emotional support.
Here are the references used to create this article:
- Hogan, N. S., & Greenfield, D. B. (2011). Grieving before and after the death of a spouse. Death Studies, 35(4), 292-318. DOI: 10.1080/07481187.2010.528010
- Neal, M. B., & Luo, B. (2021). Sex and Grief Work: A Meta-Analytic Review across Family Loss Types. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38(6), 1716-1745.
- Taylor, C. A., Osterling, K. L., & Nysveen, K. (2018). Learning to support widowers in depression: Strategies and considerations for healthcare providers. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 44(7), 35-42. DOI: 10.3928/00989134-20180327-10