A Message for a Widower’s Friends and Family

A kind word can save a widower. Amazing, but true! When a widower is buried in grief, just one kind word from someone can make their grief bearable and make their chances of surviving their grief intact more likely. More than once, a friend called me at just the right time and offered kind words of support, or to meet with me, or to help in some way.

I fully understand the reluctance of others to say anything at all to a widower for fear of saying the wrong thing. Let’s face it; most men are not well-trained to be in touch with their emotions. The result is someone unprepared to experience and process their grief. This often results in a state of confusion, anger, fear, and even a belief that they are going crazy.

Because so few people reach out to them, they are often left to fend for themselves. They can find themselves isolated with little human contact and support. Without their wife to use as a sounding board, their verbal and written expressions may be clumsy and inappropriate at times. As a defense mechanism, they may act like they don’t care what you or others think.

But the reality is that widowers do care and do need help. You can be that help! If you are willing to take the risk, you can provide a widower with a life raft in the midst of their storm. It can be as simple as:

• Encouraging them to tell their story and taking the time to hear it,

• Telling them that these feelings are normal and that with help and time, it can get better,

• Offering a list of area providers of grief counseling,

• Suggesting they reach out to their remaining family members and friends,

• Working with area churches to establish grief groups, or

• Offering gift copies of books written to help widowers. WSN members Herb Knoll, Fred Colby, Nyle Kardatzke, and Terrell Whitener wrote books to help their fellow widowers.

Friends and family are often desperate to understand what the widower in their life is going through. I like to recommend the following to widowers, friends, and family to understand the widower experience better:

1. The Kominsky Method on Netflix stars Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, who plays a just widowed former agent for the stars who struggle with his loss. The show touches on real topics with humor and humanity.

2. After Life on Netflix, starring Ricky Gervais as a deeply grieving widower who deals with depression and suicidal thoughts, this realistic drama-comedy is disturbing during the first few episodes as the lead character struggles to find his footing.

3. A Man Called Ove available on Amazon Prime with a Swedish cast (subtitles) in this comedic take on the adjustments a widower goes through while learning to live on his own. Also available in a well-written paperback novel by Fredrik Backman.

4. The Unicorn, starring Walton Goggins, follows a recently widowed landscaper and his friends as they adjust together to his new status. The first season (in particular) dealt with some of the challenges of a newly minted widower with seriousness and humor.

As miserable as they may be, the amazing thing is that widowers still have a sense of humor and can always appreciate a good laugh, often at their own expense. I know that while I was in the early stages of my grief after losing my wife of 45 years, I enjoyed the distraction of a good comedy show. You will not regret recommending any of these shows to a widower, and they will be grateful to find storylines that deal with their issues in such elucidating and humane ways.

© Copyright 2021 Fred Colby

All rights reserved

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Fred Colby is the author of Widower to Widower, which can be found on Amazon.com. You can find Fred’s column appearing here on WSN-MO every other Tuesday. Widower to Widower is available through your local bookstore, my website, and Amazon. Buy Widower to Widower through Amazon. (If living in Canada, go to Widower to Widower – Amazon-Canada) See Testimonies and Reviews of Widower to Widower. Website: Fred Colby, Author

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