The W Connection: Support for Widows by Widows

Perry Garfinkel; Veteran journalist

Dawn Nargi, a New Yorker, lost her husband, Norman Ferren, just two months after she gave birth to their son William. Dawn is one of 11 million widows in America today. There will be 1 million more by the end of 2012. Their average age is 55. She is one of 374,000 American widows under 45 years old.

As Dawn exemplifies, widowhood has no respect for age. Any wife at any age can become a widow, sometimes without warning, sometimes over long periods of time in the case of protracted illness.

It is true, though, that after age 55 the numbers increase dramatically. Thanks to that ever-influential baby boomer phenomenon, the projections for the future are pretty sad, since there are currently 26 million married women in the U.S. between the ages of 45 and 65.

For this generation — for whom the term “women’s issues” had meant equal opportunity to employment, education, health care, reproductive rights and other basic needs that might have been threatened simply by the fact of their gender — now widowhood will be added to this list.

When she lost her husband, Dawn herself was at a loss. Who to turn to? Who would understand? Who would help her through the maze of questions she had, from the deeply personal to the very practical? As it turned out, she found very few social service agencies that could help; and what information she did find was dispersed among several resources. It was this frustrating experience that motivated… READ THE FULL ARTICLE>