Sunday, November 1, 2009

Book Therapy for Widows

I'm a big believer in bibliotherapy. Reading about other women facing widowhood has reminded me I'm not alone, touched my heart, given me ideas for dealing with my new life, made me cry and sometimes made me laugh.

Here are some books about the widowhood experience. You can find them online at or

Epilogue: A Memoir by Anne Roiphe
My favorite book on widowshood. We first see Roiphe standing frozen at the front door of her apartment. She has left the door unlocked. Whenever they returned from an evening out, her husband, now gone, opened the door with his key. She isn't sure she can make the key work, hence the unlocked door. She sounds wimpy, doesn't she, but we can all relate to the feeling of helplessness early in our widowhood. The book relates her first year alone, her sometimes hilarious attempts at dating, her uncertainty, confusion and finally strength.

It Must Have Been Moonglow by Phyllis Greene
An engaging read about early widowhood. I loved the chapter entitled "Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty." It was so Me.

What Remains, A Memoir of Fate, Friendship and Love by Carole Radziwill
Married to Lee Radziwill's son, friend of John Kennedy, Junior and his wife Caroline, Carole Radziwill recounts the loss of her husband to cancer three weeks after the young Kennedys died in a plane crash. Born to a working-class family, she lives a Cinderella story, becoming a television producer at ABC. Her handsome prince is stricken with cancer, her best friends die, and she is left to make sense of what remains. Not the ordinary, middle-class widow's tale, but a fascinating one nonetheless.

Dancing in My Nightgown: The Rhythms of Widowhood by Betty Auchard
Beginning with her husband's death, takes us through her early widowhood and into the world of dating.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
As soon as it was released, this book became an instant bestseller and many see it as the classic on widowhood. I personally didn't like it. I found Didion cold and distant and my perception didn't change after hearing her read from the book. But I do like the beginning:
Life changes fast.
Life changes in an instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

Have you read these books? Have you found books helpful? Any recommendations?

In weeks to come, we'll talk about other kinds of books, advice to widows, how to books, and others. See you in seven.


Widow in the Middle said... [Reply to comment]

I have only read "The Year of Magical Thinking." I found the style hard to read, although I think Didion had a lot of good perspective about widowhood, grief and loss. I am going to check out the other titles you've listed. But what I am really looking for is a book that deals with widowhood after the first year or two. It seems as though there is a lot out there about the early period - but as another more seasoned widow, I would sure appreciate some books that deal with this stage of the journey (the middle period and beyond).

thelmaz said... [Reply to comment]

The two by Phyllis Greene and Betty Auchard go farther, past the early days of widowhood and into their moving into a new life. You might try those. I have lots of books of advice on how to cope with widowhood--I've taught a class for widows. Some that I like are Widow to Widow by Genevieve Greenberg and Surviving Widowhood by Esther Goshen-Gottstein. TZ

Do you have a blog? If so, I'll add it to my blog list

BettySueK said... [Reply to comment]

I enjoyed reading your blog. I find it very helpful!


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