Dying is a social as well as physiological phenomenon. Each society characterizes and, consequently, treats death and dying in its own individual ways—ways that differ markedly. These particular patterns of death and dying engender modal cultural responses, and such institutionalized behavior has familiar, economical, educational, religious, and political implications. The Handbook of Death and Dying takes stock of the vast literature in the field.
Chapter 86: Widowhood and its Social Implications
Eventually, all marriages are disrupted by the death of a spouse. This event affects the surviving partner and the lives of children and kin, as well as the community and larger society. Responses to partner loss are partially determined by cultural and subcultural norms, antecedent conditions reflecting the nature and meaning of the marital relationships, and characteristics of the bereaved themselves. Adjustments to widowhood also depend on societal expectations, gender, class, race, and ethnic norms.
Losing one's mate presents a range of adaptational challenges to spouses and families. In ...