Widows and Bereaved

Widowhood Effect

o   The widowhood effect is a phenomenon in which older people who have lost a spouse have an increased risk of dying themselves. 

    §  People whose spouses just died have a 66% increased chance of dying within the first three months following their spouse's death.

    §  Men and women were found to equally share this statistic

    §  After the first three months, there is still about a 15% increased chance of dying for the surviving spouse.

    §  Surviving spouses who owned homes tended to be more depressed.

    §  Meanwhile, women who were dependent on their husbands for financial tasks and home maintenance chores tended to have more post-widowhood      anxiety, research has shown.

o   The widowhood effect has been documented in all ages and races around the world.

Parents who have lost children

o   By age 60, nine percent of Americans have experienced the death of a child.

o   By 70, fifteen percent of American parents have lost a child.

o   By age 80, eighteen percent of American parents have experienced the death of a child.

o   Parents are likely to suffer from health, social, and economic challenges for, on average, 18 years following the death of a child (funding for this study ended at year 18).

o   Scientific evidence indicates that bereaved parents are more likely to suffer:

    §  More depressive symptoms

    §  Poorer well-being

    §  Less purpose in life

    §  More health complications

    §  Marital disruption

    §  Psychiatric hospitalization

    §  Even premature death for both mothers and fathers as early as age 40

Sibling loss

o   Sibling death in childhood is associated with a 71 percent increased all-cause mortality risk among bereaved persons.

o   Experiencing the death of a loved one during childhood or adolescence has long term effects on biopsychosocial pathways affecting health.

o   The death of a sibling negatively effects adult socioeconomic outcomes, particularly during school years. Bereaved siblings have higher high school dropout rates, lower college attendance and lower test scores.

We can’t end death or bring loved ones back…

o   But we can

Relieve the financial stress of housing.

Partner with grief counselors and programs.

Welcome those who have experienced loss into a caring community.