How a Widower Can Ensure His Final Wishes Are Carried Out

By Rachel Zeldin, Founder of Funerals360

As a widower, you’ve most certainly dealt with an enormous amount of stress and grief at the time of your partner’s passing. During that excruciating time, spouses often have the added burden of making plans for final wishes and funeral services of their loved one. This is an incredibly trying time for everyone who’s ever been there.

If you have already gone through the funeral-planning process for your loved one, you may have some ideas of your own final wishes, and you might have thought about ways to lessen the burden on your surviving family members when your time eventually comes.

Whether it’s buying family plots or discussing wishes with loved ones, pre-planning a funeral can have several advantages.

Remove Additional Stress For Yourself and Your Loved Ones

As you already know, loved ones are often caught in the midst of processing the grief and shock of a passing as they plan the end-of-life arrangements. This creates a stressful situation in an already emotional time.

By pre-planning a funeral or end-of-life ceremony, you can reduce the burden for your loved ones to plan a funeral later.  Of course, mortality can be an uncomfortable subject to discuss with your family, however, planning ahead can take away some of the sting of “the unknown,” and can help you and your family prepare mentally and emotionally for what’s to come.

Make Informed, Thoughtful Decisions

Planning ahead helps you make strategic decisions about your end-of-life proceeding. You can identify your wants and needs, and even compare prices with a number of providers. By making funeral arrangements in advance, you spare your family the pressure of making fast decisions at a time of duress.
One of the most important considerations in planning a funeral is what will happen with the decedent’s remains – where they will be buried, scattered, entombed, or something else. A short period of time generally exists between a person’s death and his or her burial, which means, for example, surviving family members might be rushing to buy a plot without foresight or personally visiting the site. It’s in the best interest of an entire family to think out and make these important decisions before the time comes.

Consider Financial Responsibility for the Funeral

Pre-arranging a funeral can also allow you to remove a financial burden–and the stress that goes along with it–from your loved ones by making sure your affairs are in order when the time comes.

Start to plan ahead now for the costs involved in the funeral arrangements for your own wishes. First, you’ll need to map out each step of the process, so you can associate an approximate cost with each piece.  Then, you can determine how the financial aspect will be handled.  For example, options like funeral insurance and funeral trusts can help you secure your final wishes without passing the financial burden on to your surviving family.

Where to Start

Planning a funeral ahead of time is now easier than it has ever been.  An online resource like Funerals360 can help you effectively plan for the future and compare the costs of services.

The Funerals360 website is full of resources to help you organize all of your wishes and plans. You can use the My Funeral Wishesfeature to outline your final wishes, and it’s easy to print and share electronically so you can have a conversation with your family and/or next of kin.

The interactive funeral planning checklist is an invaluable tool that can help ensure you have all your bases covered so nothing gets missed.  It lets you know everything that needs to be done–from information needed to obtain death certificates to utilities and accounts that would need to be closed–and keeps your information organized in a central and shareable place.

By pre-planning or pre-arranging a funeral, you can effectively relieve the stress later and ensure the fulfillment of your final wishes. You’ll also have the benefit of comparing prices and ensuring the best outcome possible.

Life as a widower is full of enough stress and grief, and for many, even the thought of planning out arrangements for a funeral in advance can be too much to think about while already dealing with the loss of a spouse. However, the act of pre-planning your own funeral can provide a sense of relief in having one less thing to worry about – for you, and your family.

About the Author

Rachel Zeldin is the Founder of Funerals360, an online resource that helps families find local product and service providers for their funeral or memorial.  Her inspiration came from the frustration she experienced trying to find reliable funeral planning information online when her uncle passed away unexpectedly without any prior arrangements in place.  A passionate consumer advocate, Rachel is also the Founder of Funeral Consumer Alliance of Greater Philadelphia , a non-profit advocacy group that is a chapter of the Funeral Consumers Alliance.

A Friend In Need: Herb Knoll

The quality I admire most in writers is their passion for their work and their causes. We’re all Don Quixote fighting huge windmills, doing our bit to make the world a little better and inspire others. Herb Knoll is a great example, devoting much of his life to a cause few think about, even though it is too close to us. For some of us ‘he-men’, (ha ha!), it is our greatest fear.  Herb Knoll offers help and hope.

There are 2.7 million widowers in America, 420,000 new widowers each year. One in five men will be widowed and 65% of widowed men will experience a life-threatening illness within twelve months. As Herb explains, widowers experience a wide variety of challenges: health problems, loss of faith, financial set-backs, problems with relationships, careers, raising children, dating, and more, “not to mention, grief.” It is eye-opening to realize that the suicide rate among widowers is 3-4 times higher than that of married men. It is to help these vulnerable men that Herb runs the Widowers Support Network, which provides free services to widowers, and has written The Widowers Journey. As Herb says, “America’s widowers need help. Unfortunately, few resources are available to them.”

We tend to think of men as strong and independent, the truth is we’re far more vulnerable than we appear. So, what inspired Herb to accept this mission?

Following the passing of my bride, Michelle, at age 52, from pancreatic cancer, in 2008, I needed help in dealing with my grief. Among those I sought assistance from was my local Barnes & Noble bookstore.  When I asked a clerk what he had for a new widower, he typed “widower” into his computer’s search engine.  He then looked up at me and said, “Mister, I don’t have a thing for you.”


Many would have accepted that response, but not Herb. He asked himself, “How could this be? Nothing?” As he explains it, “Having been published in the past, it occurred to me that someone needed to write a book for America’s widowers, and that person was me.” But would he stick with such a daunting challenge.   “Within a year, I resigned my position as a senior bank executive and dedicated my life to serving America’s widowers.” And from a terrible life-changing event, a mission was born, but what gave him the strength and ‘stick-to-it-iveness’ to accomplish his dream?

Herb was born the ninth of eleven children in Buffalo, New York. Before he was able to graduate high school, he was activated in the army reserves and served as a Drill Sergeant from 1967 to 1973. His determination compelled him to later attend college courses at night, “and with the support of several wonderful superiors”, he was able to rise from the ‘bottom’, to the presidency of a bank in central Florida.

Herb has a history of overcoming hurdles. He says as a youth, he stuttered, yet became a professional speaker (my professional hobby,), who frequently addressed conventions, corporate meetings and university audiences.” His book, The Total Executive, (1986), became a three-part series produced by PBS affiliate WNED-TV entitled, Today’s Executive, and he was featured as the sole on-air personality speaking before a live audience. He was also the spokesman in Marketplace Bank television commercials when he served as its president.  In 1991, he was inducted into the Buffalo/Niagara Sales & Marketing Executives International Hall of Fame. World-class designer Piero Di Mitri presented him with the first ever Di Mitri Executive Image Award, presented by supermodel/actress Jennifer O’Neill and multi-Grammy Award winner, Wynton Marsalis.” I think his greatest reward is knowing he has helped countless men who share his loss:

My life’s work is more than the nine years I spent researching the world widowed men inherit, or the 102,000 words I wrote, or the 59,000 words I chose for my book.  My calling is one of having developed a deep compassion for the men who suffer in the shadows of a society that has failed them.  Whether you speak of our houses of worship, our Federal, State and local governments or the neighbors next door, widowed men have been left to their own resources.”



Herb believes our view of men has to change. “They just don’t believe they have permission to grieve.  The trauma imposed unto men will continue as long as we keep teaching our young male children that “Boys don’t cry.”  The injustice imposed on widowed men will continue to manifest itself as long as we hold men to a different standard.”


Once he recognized his calling, Herb wanted to write a practical book“Widowed men aren’t interested in a lot of theory. They want actionable steps they can call upon to accelerate their recovery.” He believes men learn best from those who’ve experienced this loss. “With forty+ widowed men (three of them double widowers) volunteering their insights and best practices to the pages of The Widower’s Journey, widowers are sure to find answers to the questions that keep them up at night.” He also presents experts in the field: “The Widower’s Journey validates the words offered by its contributing widowers with contributions from fifteen subject matter experts from the fields of psychology, sociology, personal finance, law, religion and more.”

Herb invites you to learn more at, his Facebook site, Widowers Support Network, and a second Facebook site exclusively for widowed men and those men with seriously ill spouses, Widowers Support Network – Members Only.  His book, The Widower’s Journey is available on in paperback and digital formats.  And he invites men in The Villages to attend his free monthly meetings with fellow widowers, September thru May, right here in The Villages.  Contact him at or by calling 615.579.8136.


As a widower, Herb was able to rediscover love when he met Maria a few years after Michelle passed away.  Maria and Herb were married in 2011.  “I have been blessed in so many ways.  While I enjoyed a remarkable life and career for which I am grateful, serving widowers and those who love them is by far the most rewarding thing I have ever done.”

At the beginning of this article I stated the thing I admire most about writers is their ‘passion’…I was wrong, it’s their ‘compassion’, how much they care. If you want to learn more about our compassionate Villager writers, please visit for a directory of our authors and their books, as well as a list of local writing clubs that will help you express your passion in writing. If you know a middle or high school student that loves writing, tell them about the Florida Writers Association Youth program ( where compassionate authors help them achieve success.

Mark H. Newhouse authored the award-winning comical mysteries, Welcome to Monstrovia; The Case of the Disastrous Dragon; and the new, Case of the Crazy Chickenscratches. Founding president of Writers League of The Villages, and the Central Florida Book & Author Expo, December 8, 2018, at the Eisenhower Recreation Center, he invites you to share suggestions and questions by contacting him at   

Reprinted with permission of Village Neighbors Magazine – August 2018

Widowers – Forced to Live in the Shadows

In Loving Memory of a Dear WifeWhen asked, few people can name even one man who has been widowed.  But given a few moments for additional consideration, many are likely to say, “Oh wait a minute, I do know one.  He lives down the street or works with me at my office.” When I presented this same question to a friend of mine, he failed to recall how his own father was widowed. I find this stunning.

Few Americans can name more than one U.S. president who was widowed, yet over one-third of the Presidents of the United States have experienced the loss of a spouse (sixteen in total).  This lack of awareness of the mere existence of widowers among us validates how they seemingly live in the shadows of society and our communities.

Want more proof?  Americans love movies – yet few can recall how actor Mel Gibson practically built his action-hero career on exacting vengeance from being a widower—not exactly a healthy way to deal with loss. He did it in the Middle Ages in Braveheart, during the Revolutionary War in The Patriot, and as a cop in Lethal Weapon, including 3 sequels.

Look around you.  While you may not know a widower today, you will soon, for one in five men you know will eventually be widowed. And unless things change – including the behaviors of those reading this article – they too will soon be forgotten. Sadly, this failure by society to recognize the plight of our widowed population, not to mention their needs has become an international norm.

This view was crystallized by the actions of the United Nations when on December 22, 2010, the United Nations 65th General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution establishing June 23rd as International Widows Day.  To be celebrated annually, this global day of action was intended to raise awareness about the cultural discrimination of widows. We all should applaud the passage of this resolution by the United Nations as the need for heightened awareness about the needs of widows around the world are indeed critical.  But the way I see it, the United Nation’s only got it half right.  What of the needs of widowed men? In my view, the time for everyone’s proactive support for widowers is way overdue.

Not to diminish the pain and suffering of the countless widows on all seven continents, the actions of the United Nations mirrors the efforts – or lack thereof – of societies around the world; Men are held to a different set of standards compared to women following the loss of a spouse.  Women are more likely to be comforted by others while widowed men are expected to “get over it.”

Couple the prevailing view that men are tough and don’t need grief support with the fact that few resources are ever explicitly crafted to comfort and assist widowed males, it’s no wonder widowers have such difficulty in dealing with so many significant challenges.  Challenges most are ill-prepared to engage including substance abuse or career self-destruction, from difficulty reconciling with their higher-power to their financial ruin, isolation, grief and severe health concerns. In addition to an increased rate of diabetes and hypertension, widowers have a suicide rate that is 3-4 times greater than that of married men.

In spite of all of these facts and more, widowed men are left primarily to their own resources.  I personally experienced this phenomenon following the death of my fifty-two-year-old wife in 2008, when I entered my local large box bookstore.  As I approached the customer service counter, I inquired what they may have available that could help me – a new widower – deal with my grief.  The clerk politely entered the word “widower” into his computer’s search engine and then looked up at me saying, “Mister, I don’t have a damn thing for you.” Can you imagine my disappointment?

It was at that precise moment I decided someone needed to write a relevant book for widowed men and that person was me. After nine years of research, my breakout book, The Widowers Journey – Helping Men Rebuild After Their Loss ( was released in 2017.  When my literary agent shopped the manuscript around to over thirty New York publishing houses, she was repeatedly told that “Men don’t buy books.”  As a result, the publishing community doesn’t accept manuscripts written for widowed men.  Once again, I confirmed how the needs of the widower next door are repeatedly ignored.  This apathy towards the needs of widowed men was not something I was willing to accept, hence my decision to self-publish The Widower’s Journey.

While the United Nations and New York’s publishers have failed widowers globally, they are not alone.  With 2.7 million widowers in the United States alone, and 420,000 new widowers each year, our houses of worship, as well as our employers, have also failed them. The medical community and our local, state and federal governments are equally up to the task of disappointing our widowers, as are many of our friends, families, and neighbors.  Each segment of society is culpable in their neglect of men who are desperately dealing with emotional pain during repeated dark days and tear-filled nights. The absence of meaningful resources being provided, not to mention some semblance of awareness about the pain and suffering widowers endure is heart-wrenching, perhaps even sinful.

Even if those who are in a position to act elect not to do so for humanitarian reasons, they should do so because it is in the best interest of all parties to ensure widowed men are healthy, functional and contributing to society.

Correcting this unfair treatment of widowers begins when all interested parties – including you – start doing their part beginning today. To that end, I am calling upon the United Nations General Assembly to join us by passing a resolution declaring the International Day of the Widower to be celebrated annually on March 7th.

So let me ask you a question… Do you know a widower?


Herb Knoll lost his wife, Michelle to pancreatic cancer on March 7, 2008. Knoll is a retired bank executive, marketer, and professional speaker turned widower advocate. He founded the Michelle’s Angels Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, whose mission it is to “provide love, hope, compassion, and comforting music to those who quietly suffer” ( Knoll also founded the Widowers Support Network in 2014 (, so he could better serve, comfort, and assist widowers and those who love them. Knoll has previously served as a weekly columnist for the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, a contributing writer for Sales & Marketing Management and Marketing Times magazines, and as an on-air talent for television commercials. As the former director of public and media relations for KeyBank (NY) and later as president of Marketplace Bank (FL), Knoll frequently appeared as his bank’s spokesperson on radio and television. PBS affiliate WNED produced and aired the three-part series Today’s Executive, featuring Herb’s business insights, which were featured in his 1985 book, The Total Executive. Among his many credits, Knoll was inducted into the Buffalo/Niagara Sales & Marketing Executive’s Hall of Fame, served as the Executive Director of the 10,000+ member Sales & Marketing Executives International and was a charter member of the board of directors for Nap Ford Community School in Orlando. A former U.S. Army Reserve Drill Sergeant (E-7), Knoll is a proud member of the Knights of Columbus. Knoll lives in Lake Mary, Florida, with his wife, Maria.

Serving others can heal your broken heart.

It’s true! No matter how painful your grief may be, getting up and off the couch and into your community to serve others is guaranteed to make you feel better. Whether you volunteer for the fire department or the Red Cross, become a scout leader or work in a soup kitchen, serving others will energize your heart as it searches for joy.

About 2 1/2 years ago, while volunteering at my church during their annual fall festival when a fellow parishioner approached me and asked, “Have you ever considered joining the Knights of Columbus?” I replied no, but I would be willing to consider doing so. I ended up joining the KofC and have enjoyed working side by side with some terrific gentlemen on a wide variety of volunteer efforts, not to mention having an opportunity to serve my Lord and his church.

Recently, the members of KofC Council 12761 honored me by electing me as their Chancellor. I assumed my new duties last evening during a special ceremony held at my church.

Why do I tell you all of this? Its to point out how serving others, no matter the organization or environment in which it is orchestrated will brighten your day. It gives widowed men “purpose,” and every man needs “purpose.”

As we travel down our never-ending journey of grief, each widowed man will have moments when he can choose to accelerate his own healing. One of the ways to do so is in the service of others. After all, there is no greater reward than what one feels after they have done something for someone who can’t pay them back. Celebrate the ‘life’ the of your bride by living yours. The choice is yours.

So what are your thoughts on this topic? Let’s hear from you.

Knoll to address Catholic Church Parishioners

Attention Central Florida residents. Herb Knoll is scheduled to appear at Annunciation Catholic Church, in Altamonte Springs, Florida on Saturday, October 27, 2018, between the hours of 2-4 PM.

Join us when Herb presents his gender-neutral message of Hope, Healing & Inspiration featuring his 15 Grief Recovery Guidelines, derived from his nine years of research into the world of sorrow from grief. Those who have experienced a loss of a loved one have questions, and they’re looking for answers, preferably from someone who has personal experience in dealing with grief. Once widowed himself, Herb will present an in-depth exploration of the challenges facing America’s widows and widowers, their families, friends, colleagues, and society as a whole. Herb will share insights he learned which was published in his breakout book, The Widower’s Journey. Join us when Herb takes to the stage in his own fresh – at times humorous – yet compassionate style, and shares content that can be used to accelerate the healing of those who grieve.

Location: Annunciation Catholic Church Nazareth Center located at 1020 Montgomery Rd., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714. Attendees are asked to RSVP by October 24th, 2018 at the Church or by calling 407.869.8472

Knoll appears on Open to Hope

On this show, Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley interview Herb Knoll and Annah Elizabeth about Active Grieving: Writing Through Grief.  Herb Knoll, the author of The Widower’s Journey, lost his wife, Michelle to cancer.  He is the founder of the Widowers Support NEtwork, and advocate, and speaker on spouse loss.  Annah Elizabeth, lost her son, following unexpected complications during delivery.  She is the author of Digging for the Light, a contributor to Grief Diaries, and developer of The Five Facets Philosophy on Healing, a groundbreaking guide that helps us live our best lives.

Knoll returns to speak during Bereavement Cruise 2019

After a successful performance during Bereavement Cruise 2018, Herb Knoll will again be joining the distinguished faculty that will comfort and assist both widowed men and women as well as those who have experienced a significant loss when he addresses those attending Bereavement Cruise 2019. Onboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of The Sea, participants will set sail on March 3-10, 2019 for a journey of Hope, Healing, and Health. To learn more see Book early for best pricing. And be sure to mention you learned about this opportunity from the Widowers Support Network. Hope to see you then.

North Lake Presbyterian Church Hears Knoll

Widowers belonging to the North Lake Presbyterian Church, Lady Lake, Florida heard Herb Knoll outline his fifteen steps in dealing with a widower’s grief on April 26, 2018. Commenting on the appearance, organizer Paul Greene stated, “The men who were present were helped in their struggle and were very moved by how targeted and well structured your (Herb’s) comments were.”

Widowers Support Network – Members Only

A Facebook page for Men only.

Sometimes – men need to share some “guy talk.” You know… sports, cars, tips about home repair, how to meet women, how to boil an egg, and of course, how to overcome grief. No topic is off limits. This need was the genesis of WSN creating, Widowers Support Network – Members Only, a Facebook page for widowed men and those men with seriously ill spouses.

Men who subscribe to this free service will find how the Widowers Support Network – Members Only will enable them to make new friends across America and beyond. Subscribing will also allow men to feel more open to sharing their thoughts and challenges, no matter what they are. Membership is like having a personal advisory board that is committed to assisting you during your grief journey.

Also eligible to apply are subject matter experts (sorry ladies but male experts only) who are willing to share their advice with members of Widowers Support Network – Members Only and do so free of charge. Experts from a wide variety of fields (law, medicine, personal finance, psychology, sociology, theology, auto mechanics, culinary arts, agriculture, horticulture, etc.) are encouraged to apply.

​To join in on the fun, go to Widowers Support Network – Members Only on Facebook. Did I mention this service is open to men living anywhere in the world? Apply today.

Find out more.