We ought sensitise global population for the misery of the widows

27Oct 2021
The Guardian
We ought sensitise global population for the misery of the widows

​​​​​​​The state of having lost one's spouse to death is termed widowhood. An archaic term for a widow is ‘relict,’ ] literally ‘someone left over’. This word can sometimes be found on older gravestones. The word ‘widow’ comes from a Indo-European root meaning ‘widow’-

- and has cognates across Indo-European languages. The male form, ‘widower’, is first attested in the 14th century, by the 19th century supplanting ‘widow’ with reference to men.   

The term widowhood can be used for either gender, at least according to some dictionaries, but the word widowerhood is also listed in some dictionaries. Occasionally, the word viduity is used. The adjective for either gender is widowed. These terms are not applied to a divorcé(e) following the death of an ex-spouse. 

The phenomenon that refers to the increased mortality rate after the death of a spouse is called the widowhood effect.   It is ‘strongest during the first three months after a spouse's death, when they had a 66-per cent increased chance of dying".  Most widows and widowers suffer from this effect during the first 3 months of their spouse's death, however they can also suffer from this effect later on in their life for much longer than 3 months. There remains controversy over whether women or men have worse effects from becoming widowed, and studies have attempted to make their case for which sex is worse off, while other studies try to show that there are no true differences based on sex, and other factors are responsible for any differences.  

While it is disputed as to whether sex plays a part in the intensity of grief, sex often influences how an individual's lifestyle changes after a spouse's death. Research has shown that the difference falls in the burden of care, expectations, and how they react after the spouse's death. For example, women often carry more of an emotional burden than men and are less willing to go through the death of another spouse.  After being widowed, however, men and women can react very differently and frequently have a change in lifestyle. Women tend to miss their husbands more if he died suddenly; men, on the other hand, tend to miss their wives more if she died after suffering a long, terminal illness.  In addition, both men and women have been observed to experience lifestyle habit changes after the death of a spouse. Both sexes tend to have a harder time looking after themselves without their spouse to help, though these changes may differ based on the sex of the widow and the role the spouse played in their life.  

The older spouses grow, the more aware they are of being alone due to the death of their husband or wife. This negatively impacts the mental as well as physical well-being in both men and women.  

Since 2011 International Widows Day is an awareness day for this imbalance and aims to sensitise the global population for the misery of the widows. In April, last year Tanzania’s Human Rights Watch has urged the government to immediately amend provisions of the inheritance law, saying it violates the rights of women.

Under the existing laws, women are often left with nothing when their husbands die and coerced to leave their land, which is against international agreements on women's rights.

In the same vein, Tanzania widows association (TAWIA)

Its motto is  to bring hope to the widows and their children.Also its goal is to assist men, women, and children who are walking the unwelcome path of a devastating loss of a spouse, significant other or parent by providing educational, emotional, spiritual, physical and financial resources needed to move forward.