Sadhri turned from her husband’s funeral pyre. Shocked and alone, she carried her little girl back to the empty house.
Neighbours visited Sadhri, concerned at the suddenness of her losses, and offered words of sympathy. A believer and his wife from a local GFA church offered comfort from God’s Word and invited her to church. The young widow, unmoved by the love and attention, seemed paralyzed by her loss.
Sitting in emptiness and grief, morbid thoughts swirled through Sadhri’s head. Would everyone blame her for her husband’s death? What about her father-in-law’s? How would she take care of her daughter by herself? What future was there now for this child being raised by a widow? The whirlpool of thoughts pulled her deeper and deeper into depression. She could not bring herself to share her burdens, so she bottled them up. The only thing tethering her to this life was caring for her baby girl.
“In many countries, a woman’s social status is inextricably linked to her husband’s, so that when her husband dies, a woman no longer has a place in society,”
The mental strain Sadhri bore is common in societies where cultural norms cast widows in the role of perpetrator, blaming them for their husband’s death, rather than the role of devastated survivor. Even though many countries have passed legislation to protect widows, centuries of tradition are notoriously difficult to uproot, crushing widows under their burden.
“In many countries, a woman’s social status is inextricably linked to her husband’s, so that when her husband dies, a woman no longer has a place in society,” explained the UN in their 2018 report on International Widows Day.2
With the sudden death of the two men Sadhri depended upon, she spiraled into mental shock. Sadhri started to notice strange occurrences. Things in the house seemed to move on their own. Her 2-year-old daughter had nightmares of her father beckoning her to join him.
At times, Sadhri felt like her husband was in the room with them. Sometimes it would be her father-in-law. Were they coming back to haunt her? Did they blame her for their deaths?
The mental strain led to physical sickness. Sadhri could no longer stay in her home alone; she moved to her mother’s.
Two Needs, One Solution