This article on helping a widower is excerpted from Widower to Widower, by Fred Colby. Purchase it on Amazon.

Advice on Helping a Widower

This portion of the book is meant for those of you who want to better understand or help someone who is about to or has recently lost his wife. Unless you are an experienced grief counselor, don’t give into your natural urges and start giving advice on how he should deal with his wife’s death.

I found that others helped by letting me find my own solutions in my own way. Some helped me most by focusing on being supportive, by asking about my wife, by letting me tell the story—I must have told mine over a hundred times—and by offering to help with practical things such as meals, cleaning the house, picking up the groceries, and mowing the lawn.

My emotional state was raw, and the best thing others gave me was a caring friend. Yes, I went out for beers with friends, and would tear up often, or make weird statements. But these were good friends and they did not react negatively to all of this.

Each Widower Reacts Differently

It helped to have that interaction with others who would let me be who I was at that moment, and not worry about presenting the macho tough guy image.

I recommend that if a widower needs to cry, let him cry and know that it is okay to cry. Let him know he is not crazy if he shares some of his emotions, delusions, fears, and concerns with you. One of the great fears I had during this process was that I was going crazy. If he does ask for help, the best thing you can offer is support to enter grief counseling when he feels ready.

So many people recommend getting a pet, but there are long term implications of bringing a pet into someone’s home. But certainly, there is therapeutic value in having a pet visit the home if he is open to the visit. This may over time result in him choosing to get a pet of his choice.

© Copyright 2021 Fred Colby All rights reserved

To read more on Open to Hope about widowhood, click here.

Fred Colby

Fred Colby has served as a director, board member and consultant for nonprofit organizations in California and Colorado. After his wife, Theresa, died in 2015 Fred shifted his focus to writing and leadership roles to help his fellow widowers heal and re-engage with life. He co-founded the Pathways Hospice Men’s Grief Group and an online grief group. He resides in Ft. Collins, Colorado. For more information go to:

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