The Unfair case of Widowhood
Imagine being told you can’t wear the colorful clothes you like.
Do you feel angry?
Then, imagine being called a bad omen.
How does it feel?
Now, imagine being blamed for the death of somebody you love?
Do you feel attacked? Alone? Lonely?
Now, imagine living with this!
And all of it, while dealing with the grief of losing your partner.
It feels horrible, doesn’t it?
Well, while many of us have the privilege to only have to imagine these scenarios and then coming back to our real lives where everything is normal, it’s not the same for some of us. The whole train ride of imagination I just took you on is a ground reality of a great chunk of widowed single women around the globe and especially in South Asian countries.
The death of a loved one is always really difficult to cope with. When it’s your partner who you planned to spend the rest of your life with, it must be even harder. Like I said earlier, I can only imagine what it must feel like. It must feel like being left alone in the middle of nowhere – not knowing what dangers might await you. Now you must go through your life alone, deal with your grief and cope with the normalcies of the world.
Do we ever stop to think what the newly widowed woman must feel like?
The colors of her life are literally and figuratively stripped off and she is left to live in black and white. She is separated from the colors and happiness of the world. The already difficult journey is leveled up with millions of roadblocks.
And these roadblocks prevent her from being sane and stable.
She struggles. And not just to live – but to feel, even normal emotions.
When a person we love dies, we go through a mourning period. Mourning period refers to a time period where there is an active manifestation of a wide range of reactions in outer life, e.g. waves of forgetfulness, sadness, loneliness, regret, “magical thinking” (that we might turn back the clock or the calendar) and inconsolability. Along with that, we also go through a Grief Period. The Grief Period is inwardly and passive. The inward feeling of grief and the experiences that come with it can both shorten or prolong the mourning period.
For widowhood, the mourning and the grief lasts a longer period of time. Because, along with the loss of your partner, you are also grieving the loss of a possible future or your plans with him. To add to that, you are also grieving a part of your life that went with him. The societal conditioning and the traditions only worsen it. Widows are often estranged and deduced. The verdict of her life is passed with his death.
This feeling of isolation, lack of support system, receiving apathy from others and hopelessness can cause numerous mental health problems such as Depression, Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to name some.
How can we help or contribute towards better lives of widowed single women?
- First, Educate yourselves and Unlearn your alienating social norms.
- Second, learn to be empathetic.
- Then, be an ally and a support system for them.
- Listen and maintain boundaries.
- Show affection and love.
Most importantly, show kindness to everyone and stand up against unfair and dehumanizing norms.
Death is natural. Grieving is a process. How we treat people in between matters. What part we play to help people in need is something to ponder upon. So, while we are here, let’s add more color to the world – not be a part of a tradition that strips color off someone’s whole existence.