There are over 40,000 widows in T&T and the reality is that most times the struggles and grief they endure following their husband’s passing goes unnoticed.
“Widows are really a forgotten population. The theme for Widows International Day is Invisible Women, Invisible Problems. And the reality is that the majority of people are not aware of the kinds of challenges and struggles that widows have to endure,” said psychologist Nadiege Honore-Wellington.
Through Widows Association of T&T and her practice Thriving Life Therapy Practice, Honore-Wellington provides much-needed counselling to widows.
However, she says the grieving process could last for several years for some widows, especially if they don’t have social support or a support system.
She said, “Becoming a widow means that you have lost a piece of yourself someone you would have, in most cases, spent several years with. Who has become a part of who you are, your lives intertwine and you have become one to a certain extent. So, the grieving process is one part but learning to live with that loss is extremely challenging for some widows because it means a whole new adjustment in life.”
Additionally, she said all the responsibilities of managing the household and maintaining and caring for the children now fall on the widow’s lap, be it financial or otherwise.
She added: “The psychological impact is what has the propensity to really cause damages whether it is trauma and resulting anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, loneliness, those are things that really don’t make life worth living but that is directly impacted by a lot of the other things that widows have to endure whether it is loss of finances, loss of social support, loss of just having someone by your side. So it is a lot of things working together to cause that psychological impact.”
Honore-Wellington advised widows to reach out for help, find support and connect with others.
Widows Association’s senior administrator and project lead, Sabrina Joaquin-Phillips said in commemoration of Widows International Day on June 23 the association would usually have a celebration with widows but this is the second year that the event will not be held due to the pandemic.
While a widow’s grant is available through NIB, she said there is no specific generated assistance for women.
Hopefully, with the assistance of Social Development Minister Donna Cox the association is hoping to get financial assistance and psychological support for widows and their children.
“We have realised that a lot of children coming through this type of experience are affected negatively, it affects their schooling, it affects their interaction,” she said
Incorporated in 2015, she said the non-profit organisation provides support, counselling and guidance to widows and their children.
“What we give is basic information they would need in terms of financially and legally and from there direct them to where they would be able to to get that service,” Joaquin-Phillips said.
She said the association has also embarked on an online awareness campaign using social media platforms to do interviews and interact with widows.
“Because of the publicity that it has been getting widows have been reaching out to us. We have gotten very few requests for financial assistance, but the requests are really for emotional counselling and assistance on how to manage this new scenario, also with their children who are grieving,” she said.
Noting that some widows who are already under the poverty line would have sunk “deeper and further in the hole” due to the pandemic, she said the association’s aim is to distribute at least 200 hampers before Christmas.
Joaquin-Phillips has invited grieving widows to reach out to the association for support, as well as businesses or individuals who are in a position and willing to volunteer their services.
The association can be contacted at [email protected]; 480-3828, 373-4988, or through their Facebook and Instagram accounts.