Passive Widow: These women have tended to be passive in their life prior to their husband’s death. They usually are not progressing in their grief work for a variety of reasons. They tend to sit and wait grief out. They do not seem able to define a clear direction and appear unwilling or non-interested in changing. They often come across as needy to others and frustrate those who try to help them because they are so dependent. Many of them come to learn that you either walk through grief or it walks all over you. These widows are waiting for some else to make it better and might remarry too quickly only to find that their new marriage does not resolve the grief feelings and process. They often do seek help, but after their lives and issues are even more complicated.
Complaining Widow: These women also bring their past coping styles into widowhood. They tend to stay too long in the feelings of victimization and anger, resentment, and sometimes bitterness, and struggle with taking personal responsibility for their own grief work. Instead they move through a series of crisies blaming everyone else for their condition. They appear unwilling to change, or take action. They expect others to change by accepting their perspective. They tend to frustrate those that try to help because they are so negative and drive others away.
Intentional Widow: These women certainly struggle with passivity and anger at times; however, their coping style is one of walking through and along the path of grief and seeking to understand, express their feelings verbally or in writing, and move from present –past living to present -future living. They realize there will be grief cycle relapses on their journey. These widows stay connected to, or find support during their grief work.
Any widow can have aspects of these three different types; however, those who tend to recover more quickly are the intentional widows. The passive and complaining widows tend to experience more complicated and prolonged grief.
Grief work for a widow is hard work. Some say it is the hardest work they have ever done.
Remember, either you walk with grief or it will walk all over you.
Walking With Widows/Dr. Dan Trathen