by Herb Knoll
Author: The Widower’s Journey
From as far away as Australia to the British Isles, from Canada to Nigeria, the Widowers Support Network hears the cries of men who mourn the loss of their wife, their soul mates, their partners in life. Widowed men don’t ask for much, never have, never will. After all, men who mourn are expected to “get over it,” right? You know, be a man. Macho if you will. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it was meant to be.
It is said that to grieve, you first must have loved. For without love, grief does not exist. To have loved is among life’s greats joys. As such, it is unrealistic to think one who once loved doesn’t grieve when it is lost. And with grief, comes sorrow, tears, fright, despair, pain, loneliness, depression, aimlessness, and more. Each of these behaviors is dangerous. At times, life-threatening. Yet for some reason, widowed men continue to be held to a different set of expectations vs. widows when they experience the loss of their beloved spouse.
Following a speaking engagement in Connecticut, it hit me. “Men don’t think they have permission to grieve.” This is why they retreat to the shadows of our communities to mourn in private, many in total despair, for they wish not to be viewed as less of a man, then society would have them be. How sad for the widowers of the world; our fathers, brothers, uncles, nephews, grandfathers, neighbors, and colleagues.
In the Gospel of John (John 11:1–44), we learned of the story of Jesus’ dearest friend, Lazarus of Bethany, also known as Saint Lazarus or Lazarus of the Four Days. Jesus loved Lazarus. When Jesus wept after he learned of Lazarus’ passing. So painful was Jesus’ loss, he decided to perform one of his most prominent of miracles in which he restored Lazarus to life four days after his death. For those of the Christian faith (and I invite others as well), ask yourself; does anyone see Jesus as less of a man for his tears? Jesus’ reaction to the loss of his beloved friend reinforces the view that grieving is a natural extension of one’s love for another.
As we approach Christmas when all of the Christian world celebrates the birth of the Christ child, and presents are so bountiful, do so with a new awareness of the plight of the widowed man. You may know a widower who you are contemplating purchasing a gift. But what does one gift to a widower? The answer lies in this article.
From around the world, widowers have shared with me a listing of the gifts they would truly love to receive. Don’t worry about the cost. The presents widowers seek won’t cost a nickel.