The UN has June 23 designated as International Widows’ Day. (You can click here to go to their website with more information and resources.)
My first reaction when I heard that there was a day for widows was “meh.” But after reading the UN’s website, I realized that this day isn’t for widows like me. While I may often feel the stigma people still attach to widowhood, this is a day to recognize that in many cultures (most still in developing countries), widows are in danger everyday, whether it’s due to poverty or life-threatening situations (customs, war, etc.).
If you don’t think some cultures still practice widow abuse (forcing them to commit suicide at their husbands’ burial, forcing them to marry one of their late husbands’ relatives, casting them out for witchcraft, etc.), then you live a privileged, blissfully-ignorant life.
The biggest problems that I’ve faced as a widow have largely been due to outdated Victorian Era judgmental opinions about what other people think my life should look like as a widow. I’m grateful to be in the position that I can speak for myself, that I can support myself and my children, that I have a network of supportive family and friends…
This International Widows’ Day is for the women who don’t have support and whose lives are at risk solely based on their widowed marital status. They should not be ignored or shunned or abused just because their husbands or partners passed away. They should be seen, cared for, and consulted during times of crisis.