July 1, 2022

Widowhood is the state of having lost a spouse by death; if he is a man he is called a widower, and if he is a woman, a widow. In turn, the person who is in this state is called "surviving spouse" or "surviving spouse". Currently, this term is also used colloquially, and sometimes even legally, to refer to the surviving person of a couple, even if they have never married, since they face the same problems as legal widowers; That is why, even in certain countries like Brazil, they have the same rights as married people. This use of the term occurs as a result of the decline of marriage in the West and the expansion of the concept of family.


Widowhood has always been an important social problem, particularly in the past. In families where the husband was the sole breadwinner, widowhood could plunge relatives into poverty, which is why many charities were aimed at helping widows and orphans. The situation worsened with the long life of women, since men generally married women younger than themselves. However, in some patriarchal societies, widows were among the most independent women. A widow sometimes carried on her husband's business and was consequently granted certain rights, such as admission to cooperatives. Additionally there were implications of sexual freedom; Although some wills included chastity clauses (requiring widows to be celibate in order to inherit), in societies where divorce was prohibited, widowhood allowed women to remarry. The "Wife of Bath", in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, refers to her being widowed five times, allowing herself great sexual experiences. Widowhood can have a negative emotional impact (e.g. anxiety, depression), as well as help experience personal growth.[1] In other cultures, widows were treated differently. For example, in India an elaborate ceremony was performed during the widow's husband's funeral, which included breaking bangles, removing bindi decorations, as well as any colorful attire, making the woman wear white.


The state of widowhood has deserved the utmost respect at all times, so much so that Marcial, in his epigrams, even said that the woman who marries many times commits adultery. The Fathers of the Church, without condemning second marriages, advised to refrain from them. Among the Hebrews, a widow who had no children by her husband was required to marry her husband's brother (levirate). The purpose of this law was: Keep assets in the same family. Perpetuate the name of the first husband. The law was not contracted for the widow to marry her brother-in-law but, in the absence of this, her closest relatives entered as long as they were of the same line. This marriage was made without solemnity and only by virtue of the law. However, the custom was that the union be verified in the presence of at least two witnesses and that the husband give a coin to the wife. Later the nuptial blessing and a writ to ensure the woman's dowry were added. It seems that the Jews after the Babylonian captivity or, according to others, after the destruction of the second temple, no longer practiced this law.[2]

See also

Mourning Orphanhood Remarriage The widow, mythological character.


External Links

Wikimedia Commons hosts a media category on Widows. Wikiquote has famous phrases from or about Widowhood. Widownet - self-help newsletter. Grief's Journey (on widowhood).