By Ogova Ondego
Published April 18, 2017
Fact 1: Death is the other side of the coin known as Life.
Fact 2: Women now generally outlive men.
Fact 3: The probability of a wife becoming a widow is higher today than ever.
Fact 4: Every married woman is a potential widow.
Fact 5: Every wife should prepare for widowhood.
Fact 6: Forewarned is forearmed.
The theme of But I Never Thought He’d Die: Practical Help for Widows by Miriam Baker Nye is about facing facts, understanding feelings, identifying and carrying out developmental tasks, and setting new goals. The author, a remarried widow, stresses that her book is not about ‘How to Succeed as a Widow’, ‘How to be a merry widow’ or ‘How to endure widowhood’.
To be prepared is half the victory, so observed Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616). And this guide that is based on the experiences of the author, conversations and correspondence with widows and post-graduate study on widowhood, appears to be in line with this maxim.She tackles issues like working through grief, settling the late husband’s estate, learning to handle finances as the sole breadwinner, functioning as a single parent, re-organising her social life and deciding whether to re-marry.
Arguing that a woman’s life does not end with widowhood, Nye writes that widowhood could be an opportunity for self-improvement. She however hastens to add that no woman, no matter how miserable her marriage, would choose widowhood as the means for gaining perspective and personal growth.
The author takes issue with society over what she terms as hypocrisy and insensitivity concerning widowhood, treating widows as inferior beings and a liability.While some family friends keep their distance fearing to be asked to assist in possible repair work and maintenance of the widow’s home, writes Nye, women friends feel threatened by a widow, taking her fo a potential husband-snatcher.
Nye, who identifies herself as a Christian, laments that the church has not lived up to expectation as the resource for comfort, emotional support and spiritual guidance: the church repeatedly refers to a woman-headed family as a ‘broken home’ even when a widow and her children feel they are achieving some wholeness despite their loss.
“Your talents and labour, like those of other singles, may be readily accepted by the church fellowship, always hungry for doers. But your personhood may be ignored or rejected,’ she writes.
Mirian Baker Nye, in the 150-page book, concedes that sexual desires and energies are as alive in widowhood as they were when a widow’s husband was alive but advises that they need to be tamed even in today’s sexually-stimulating society.
Should a widow befriend men?
Saying widows are normal human beings who need human company, Nye writes that relationship with men need not be sexual.
“If dinner and bed is not your style, hold out only for a solidly based friendship with someone who shares your ideals. . . Discipline yourself to avoid situations and activities that you find sexually stimulating.”
Should a widow opt to re-marry, the author leads her through what to consider using questions such as:
• When is it too soon to remarry?
• When is a widow too old to remarry and what will she contribute to the union?
• Where will she meet eligible men and how will she screen them?
Besides tackling the legal, social and economic implications of remarriage, But I Never Thought He’d Die: Practical Help for Widows cautions widows against engaging in desperate man-hunt as the answer to loneliness.
Arranged in 11 chapters, the clarity of style, easy presentation and exhaustive coverage of the subject in this how-to guide enable the reader to easily follow it.
The author’s practical advice and writing flair that demonstrate that ‘widowhood’ can be handled soundly without being stuffy, stiff or gory sets the book apart as helpful not only to widows but also to their loved ones, counsellors, pastors, teachers, social workers and any other person who deals with family issues.