<i>The Widows’ Handbook</i>

TheWidowsHandbookThe Widows’ Handbook:
Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival

Edited by Jacqueline Lapidus and Lise Menn
Foreword by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Widows’ Handbook is the first anthology of poems by contemporary widows. This stirring collection celebrates the strategies widows learn and the resources they muster to deal with people, living space, possessions, social life, and especially themselves, once shock has turned to the realization that nothing will ever be the same. As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says in her Foreword, losing one’s partner is “a loss like no other.”

The Widows’ Handbook includes the work of 87 American women of all ages, legally married or not, straight and gay, whose partners or spouses have died. Some are already published widely—including more than a dozen prizewinners, five Pushcart nominees, and two regional poets laureate. Others are not as well known, and some appear in print for the first time here. Anyone who has lost a loved one or is involved in helping the bereaved will be able to relate to their experiences. But, while both men and women understand the bewilderment, solitude, and change of status thrust upon the widowed, women suffer a particular social demotion and isolation shown here in all its variations. With courage and wry humor, these women—including the editors—write frankly about being paralyzed and about going forward. Their poems are honest, beautiful, and accessible.

When a partner dies, we begin a long journey down a path we’d rather not take, and we may imagine that life could never be bearable again. The poems in this Handbook offer much more than guidance or comfort. Their searing honesty and vivid depictions of resilience offer us invaluable reassurance that our grieving, however painful, will not destroy our capacity to live with meaning–and even joy.

–Judy Norsigian, Executive Director, Our Bodies, Ourselves

I wish this collection had been available when I was a new widow. What a spectacular group of women this is! Their reactions and experiences as widows are varied, but each woman brings her own special intelligence to mourning, managing alone, and making a new life. Poetry makes those experiences immediately, emotionally accessible.

–Jacqueline M.S. Winterkorn, M.D., Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology in Neurology and Neuroscience, Weill Cornell Medical College

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