In Their Own Words:
How Women Changed Since the Death of Their Husbands
Bob Baugher, Ph.D.
In my doctoral dissertation titled, Perceptions of the Widow’s Bereavement Process by Her Adult Child, I asked the 59 widowed women in the study:
“How do you feel that you’ve changed since you spouse died? List 3 of the most significant ways (if any) that indicate how you are different”
Here is what they said:
A better business person because I have had to be
A healthier person
Able to make decisions.
Acceptance of total responsibility for self, house, life, etc.
Afraid to “speak my mind” openly
Alone, without spouse
Although I’m relatively financially secure, I’m afraid to spend money.
Anxious, uncertain, suspicious, take nothing for granted.
As a perfectionist, I feel I am spread too thin.
Aware of having to take care of myself
Become more concerned about my physical condition.
Better understanding of financial affairs
Close to my sisters even more than before
Closer to God and my church
Concerned about money management
Deeper spiritual life
Developed more friends of mine rather than ours
Don’t eat like I should
Empty and hopeless feelings
Even more concerned about children than before
Express my feelings more
Feel less adequate to me decisions
Feel more able to interact with people outside the home
Free thinking in matters of religion
Going places by myself
Greater faith in God
Grew to meet my problems
Guilt over not caring for grandchildren
Had to be self-reliant (completely)
Have more confidence in myself
Helpful to others
I am a career woman.
I am depressed more.
I am extremely depressed, unhappy, and lonely.
I am frightened by the uncertainty of my future.
I am less trusting of others than I need to be
I am more self-sufficient, stronger.
I am quieter.
I am stronger.
I come to understand myself better, who I am, and what I want.
I cry too much when alone.
I devote more time to work than family.
I don’t have the interest to go on trying.
I don’t laugh often.
I don’t take what I have for granted anymore.
I feel different about my work since I have to work.
I feel for people more.
I feel more inhibited in my actions or speech.
I get discouraged trying to live alone.
I have a void in my life that’s hard to fill
I have become belligerent if someone tries to tell me how to run my life.
I have become more independent. (This was, by far, the most popular response.)
I have become more self-sufficient.
I have become spoiled (living alone)
I have learned to be a “person” on my own.
I have less purpose in life.
I have moods of depression.
I haven’t been able to “trust” that another person could care for me as my husband did.
I live each day more fully rather than saving everything for the future.
I love my new husband very much.
I must go on and live as he would want me to.
I stay at home more.
I take charge of my own business.
I talk more in a group.
I think I am not different.
I try harder not to worry about my new husband.
I work less in my house.
I’m not as cheerful or happy
I’m not as sure of myself as I was while he was with me.
I’ve become more aware of other people feelings.
I’ve been forced to manage money, house, alone.
I’ve finally realized that life isn’t a game, I don’t think I’ll ever be as carefree as I was before becoming responsible (entirely) for the children. I’ve not quite yet learned to live with the knowledge that I do it alone.
I’ve learned I have to be responsible for myself.
I’ve matured because I’ve had to do new things.
I’ve tried to live as I did when he was with me hoping someday that I’ll see him again.
It seems as though everything has gotten much harder to deal with and sometimes I just sort of “cave in.”
It’s hard to love someone; scared they might die.
Kinder to myself
Knowledge I can enjoy companionship of friends
Learned how to make decisions
Learned that happiness is a choice
Learned to accept living alone (but not to like it)
Learned to accept people for what they are. You cannot change them.
Learned to ask for help and accept it gratefully
Learned to be myself not worrying about others opinions.
Learned to do things (mechanically) that I had never done before.
Learned to make decisions on my own
Learning too slowly to going alone, but feel if and when I accept the fact, “this is the way it is,” I will be a stronger person.
Less anxiety about being out at parties
Less bothered with housework
Less concerned about my own death
Less concerned about outside opinion.
Less judgmental of others
Life has grown in different directions.
Life is more purposeless.
Lonely even if other people are around
More aware of the hurt that others suffer.
More cautious with spending
More comfortable with my own mortality
More concerned about practical affairs, finances, etc.
More confidence, worry less (because of turning to more faith in God)
More confident in myself regarding my ability to work things out.
More dependent on God for help and guidance
More dependent upon friends
More difficult to “do business” with
More easygoing, less critical of others
More handy around house
More inclined to spend money and spoil children
More knowledgeable of finances
More of a loner
More reliant on my own decisions
More reverent in my thinking
More self-sufficient, more self-confident
More women as friends. Most are alone too
Much more emotional and sentimental
Much more mature, but a little hardened
My life requires an extremely imposed discipline of work/companionship, etc.
Not as cheerful (or more irritable).
Not as outgoing
Not a first-class citizen
Not quite as patient with people
Not trustful of men
Nothing to live for, no one needs me
People tell me I appear to be more serious.
Politically much more liberal
Probably more selfish
Resentful of others happiness and togetherness
Responsible for all finances
Sad all the time
Seek company of interesting female companions
Skilled repair woman
Still learning to be alone, but not lonely
Stronger emotionally and psychologically
Stronger, don’t need absolute control.
Take life more easy
Tend to love and appreciate others more
Travel more, keep moving and involved
Try to be understanding of other people’s problems.
Try to live each day more fully.
Understanding to others
Withdrawn from life
Work a little more than right before he died
Worry more about the future