The Older Man's Experience of WidowhoodeBook - 2010
An eminently readable and accessible book, By Himself sheds new light on the social meaning of being a widower.
What happens when older men become widowers? Popular books, movies, and television present widowers as lost and unable to cope or care for themselves. These stereotypes do not encapsulate the experiences of real widowers, how their daily lives change, and what being a widower means to individuals in both sociological and practical ways.
By Himself is based on in-depth interviews with twenty-six widowers over the age of sixty living in the United States and Canada. Using these interviews, Deborah K. van den Hoonaard explores masculine identity and traces the stories that widowers tell about their wives' illnesses and deaths. She also focuses on the widowers' changed relationships with their children and friends, as well as with women, and details the men's encounters with tasks such as housework and cooking. An eminently readable and accessible book, By Himself sheds new light on the social meaning of being a widower.
Drawing on interviews she conducted between 2000 and 2002 with 26 men over the age of 60 in Canada and Florida, Van den Hoonaard (qualitative research and analysis and gerontology, St. Thomas U., Canada) documents the experiences of older men who become widowers, how their lives change, and what it means for them. Noting how most research on widowers focuses on the grieving process, she instead investigates the social meaning of being a widower and how men describe their experiences in ways that protect their sense of masculinity. She relates how their wives died; their first steps as widowers; how they deal with and talk about their changed relationships with children, friends, and women; and their daily lives and encounters with traditionally feminine tasks like housework and cooking. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)