What happens to wives when husbands die? The quick answer is widowhood. The deeper truth is they are forced into a life change that has serious ramifications for themselves, their families, their friends and their futures. Are poems and songs written about widow-heroes, does literature extol their strength and courage, their independence gained, their new lives discovered? Hardly. But women have important stories to tell about this time in their lives when they come face to face with one of the most common and devastating life experiences for women everywhere. Seventy-nine story tellers have joined together to tell about the tragic time that begins when, in an instant, the husband dies, the man, the lover, the companion, the mate is gone – and so is the marriage! SHIRLEY REESER McNALLY, the originator of this project, is a graduate of Smith College as are Barbara Harrison Mulhern, Mary Witt Wydman and the majority of women whose stories are told in this book. Because Smith is a liberal arts college for women, it seemed logical to McNally that the alumnae of Smith would be a source and an audience for a study of widows. It has turned out to be so. “The work,” she says, “has been arduous, fascinating and redemptive.” The result is intended for current widows who can learn how others are handling the difficult situation forced upon them, and for women still married who, with their spouses, must plan for what well might occur in their futures.
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