Behavior patterns and depressive episodes of the newly widowed

Sub Title:

Author: Frigillano, Shirley D.

Accession Number: 1469D

Class No: 155

Author No: F916

Copyright Year: 2012

Abstract:

This phenomenological study focused on the behavior patterns and depressive episodes of the newly widowed. The data gathering methods utilized a series of in-depth semi-structured interview of the informants and the observation of their attitudes, feelings, vocal and facial expressions, and other overt behaviors. The informants’ verbally narrated data were content analyzed. These were then synthesized and summarized. Results revealed that the newly widowed experienced certain behavior patterns and depressive episodes like denying the death, outbursts coupled with blame and guilt, intense depression, bidding for time and another chance, coming to terms with the reality of death, acceptance, and recovery. Denying the death was manifested behaviorally in the form of shock and numbness, panic or hysterical reactions such as crying, shouting, running, and other physical reactions like tightness in the chest and shortness of breathing, disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, and headaches. The informants experienced uncontrollable outbursts coupled with blaming others, themselves, God, and sometimes, even their dead partner. Feelings of guilt were also present which were generally due to the failure in doing or saying what they ought to have said and done just to stop or even just to delay death; feeling guilty for feeling relieved when the husband had died after a long, difficult illness. Likewise, they experienced intense depression after losing their husbands. Common emotional manifestations were feelings of despair and anxiety and behavioral manifestations, like experiencing mental disorganization and as if ‘losing one’s mind’ . Despair and anxiety were seen in the widows’ feelings of deep sorrow, helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness after the death of their husbands. The newly widowed tried to bid for time and another chance while trying to make a deal or bargain with the Creator. They hoped for a postponement or a delay of the death in exchange for a reformed godly lifestyle, or even to alter a major decision. Oftentimes, there was a feeling of uncertainty. Coming to terms with the reality of death, the informants experienced gradual recovery, and revival. This was manifested in their submission to God’s will and acceptance of the truth about death while cherishing the memories of the dead spouse. It is interesting to note that these behavior patterns and depressive episodes of the newly widowed seemed to correspond to what Kubler-Ross posited about the five stages of grief experienced by the dying person with terminal illness; only, these stages of grief occurred prior to the death of the dying person himself, while for the newly widowed, the behavior patterns and depressive episodes happened after the death of the spouse. The survival strategies or coping mechanisms of the newly widowed include family support, their faith in the Almighty as well as their ideology, and community support. Some strategies to help the newly widowed cope with grief include having a support group; joining religious organizations; engaging in activities that promote health and wellness; and taking time to be with family members, friends, and colleagues in the community. Likewise, government institutions and religious or civic organizations may provide counseling and worthwhile programs or activities for the widows or the bereaved, especially those who need psychological help in coping with their loss.


Keywords: Behavior patterns and depressive episodes, Newly widowed

Citation:



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