International Widow’s Day

June 23, 2018 has been designated as International Widow’s Day. This global awareness day was first created by the United Nations in 2010 to raise awareness of the violation of human rights that widows suffer in many countries, following the death of their partner.

Challenges of widowhood

Canadian women also face several challenges following the death of a partner, including emotional, financial, social and physical changes. Emotionally, widows have lost a partner and best friend, someone who journeyed by their side, through the trials, tribulations, joys and successes of life. Financially, they may have lost a provider, who helped to support the household.

Socially, widows may feel isolated and no longer a part of a social circle, that contains other couples. Physically, they may be experiencing the effects of grief, adjusting to sleeping alone after having someone else next to them during the night. Widows also lose the special, intimate connection they have with their partners, which can leave a significant, physical, emotional and sexual void.

It is important to remember, that a woman of any age can experience the death of her partner. Younger widows may face additional challenges in raising a family or feeling as though they’ve lost the opportunity to start a family. Historically, we also note the challenges faced by same-sex couples, who faced legal difficulties around the loss of a partner, and subsequent recognition as “next-of-kin”.


There are numerous books available that speak to widowhood. Our bookshelf contains a wonderful resource, Healing a Spouse’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas After Your Husband or Wife Dies by Dr. Alan Wolfelt.  There are also online communities such as The Sisterhood of Widows and blogs like The Singing Widow that can offer support.

Share your memories

On this International Widow’s Day, we encourage you to speak your partner’s name, share the story of how you met, your special memories, favourite musical selections, or a collection of photos, as a way to honour your special relationship.

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