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 "A Widow's Story" and a Study of Spousal Grief 
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Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:46 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area (Northern CA)
Post "A Widow's Story" and a Study of Spousal Grief
The well-known fiction author Joyce Carol Oates has published a memoir titled "A Widow's Story," about the death of her husband in 2008, after 48 years of marriage. There was a short (7-minute) interview with her on the PBS Newshour on 2/3/11: ... 02-03.html

Here are two excerpts from that interview:

"It was as if I entered a world of absurdity, like black comedy sometimes. ... I would get out of the car and bump my head. Everything seemed to start to go downhill as soon as I took my husband to the hospital. One thing led to another, as in a mad -- a mad -- a world of madness. You know, it just seemed that something got unhinged and it just went downhill. And most people think that a widow is inhabiting some elegiac world of -- it's like Mozart's 'Requiem Mass.' You know, it's very beautiful and elevated thoughts and some measure of dignity. I didn't have that experience at all. I had one pratfall after another."

"And I should say, one of the things about being a widow or a widower, you really, really need a sense of humor, because everything's going to fall apart."

An article in yesterday's New York Times mentioned "A Widow's Story" along with another book that I've heard a lot about -- "Nothing Was the Same" by Kay Redfield Jamison. The article (link below) discusses what researchers have learned by tracking widows and widowers over time. "They have found that most older people who lose spouses from natural causes recover much more quickly than we have come to expect. In fact, for many, acute grief tends to lift well within six months after the loss. ... As for the remaining participants, about 15 percent exhibited grief symptoms that were moderately high at 6 months but almost completely gone by 18 months. For an additional 10 percent, those who were still having problems at 18 and 48 months, grief had become chronic."

The author of the NYT article says: "Loss is forever, but thankfully, acute grief is not. Yet we rarely come across books (or plays or movies) about women who begin to stabilize after six months and start dating after a year or so because, perhaps, that narrative conflicts with our romantic fantasies that each of us is meant to spend our time on earth with only one soul mate."

Robin ... sberg.html

Grief, Unedited
By Ruth Davis Konigsberg
February 14, 2011
New York Times

Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:43 pm

Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:46 pm
Posts: 3213
Location: WA
Post Re: "A Widow's Story" and a Study of Spousal Grief
Some research I did in college showed widows to be particularly resilient but widowers less so. In fact, I was shocked that, after the initial grief period, many widows said they had never been more content with their lives. Several of them reported, "For the first time in my life, I get up when I want, go to bed when I want, eat what I want, when I want." Many--not all by any means--widowers suffered from lack of self-care because they had been accustomed to being taken care of by their spouses. Some abused alcohol and many ate poorly and failed to take their prescribed medications. They were more apt to remarry quickly than were widows. This was a small study but the results really surprised me.

Pat [68] married to Derek [84] for 38 years; husband dx PDD/LBD 2005, probably began 2002 or earlier; late stage and in a SNF as of January 2011. Hospitalized 11/2/2013 and discharged to home Hospice. Passed away at home on 11/9/2013.

Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:05 am

Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:28 pm
Posts: 317
Post Re: "A Widow's Story" and a Study of Spousal Grief
I have a friend who is a widow and does not let any men enter her home unless they are accompanied by a female. She says all those old guys are just looking for a "nurse and a purse." (I like her...she has coolness all over her.) Smiles, Nan

Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:16 am

Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:53 am
Posts: 969
Location: Ocala, FL
Post Re: "A Widow's Story" and a Study of Spousal Grief
"A nurse and a purse".... I love that. I will have to tell my sister. She lost her husband to cancer two years ago. She is taking overseas trips and enjoying her seven grandchildren. She is my shoulder to lean on.

She says she wants nothing to do with an old geezer who is apt to be sick and require the kind of care she gave her husband at the end. :lol: She goes to lunch with some ... but never lets them into her home.

Thanks, Nan.

Leone Carroll (75); wife of Dale (75) who passed away March 23, 2011

Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:39 am

Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:46 pm
Posts: 4811
Location: SF Bay Area (Northern CA)
Post Re: "A Widow's Story" and a Study of Spousal Grief
Has anyone read either of the books mentioned above?

Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:47 am

Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:07 pm
Posts: 1039
Location: Minnesota
Post Re: "A Widow's Story" and a Study of Spousal Grief
Robin, no I haven't, but thank you for mentioning them. I don't think I'm ready for that topic yet, but I'll keep them in mind. This weekend I'm picking up a copy of My Mother Your Mother. One thing at a time! :P

Jeanne, 68 cared for husband Coy, 86. RBD for 30+ years; LDB since 2003, Coy at home, in early stage, until death in 2012

Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:55 pm

Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:33 pm
Posts: 3441
Location: Vermont
Post Re: "A Widow's Story" and a Study of Spousal Grief
20-some years ago when my aunt's husband died, she said the same thing - "I won't ever get married again because the men my age are looking for a nurse and a purse, and I don't want to be a nurse again!" I guess she didn't know she could be a cougar! LOL Lynn

Lynn, daughter of 89 year old dad dx with possiblity of LBD, CBD, PSP, FTD, ALS, Vascular Dementia, AD, etc., died Nov. 30, 2010 after living in ALF for 18 months.

Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:37 am
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