Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Current Widowhood: Myths and Realities

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Current Widowhood: Myths and Realities

Article excerpt

Current Widowhood: Myths and Realities. Helena Znaniecka Lopata. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 1996. 251 pp. Hardcover ISBN 0-8039-73950. $44.95 cloth, $21.95 paper.

Helena Z. Lopata, who was, in her words, "present at the beginning" (p. xiv) of the study of widowhood, is the ideal person to undertake the task of compiling what is known about the subject today. Although the material spans almost three decades, the book provides a breadth of information useful to both the scholar and those working with widows and their families. The international and cross-cultural perspectives are much needed in family studies.

The chapters of the book are organized using myths or stereotypes that surround widows and make their bereavement and adjustment more difficult. Chapter 2, for example, looks at the widow in other societies and explores the myths that in all traditional societies families care for widows and that modernization benefits all members of a society, including widows. Lopata shows how much more complex societies have been in the past and are today. Likewise, in Chapter 6, "Kin Roles in Widowhood," Lopata examines the myths that widows are heavily dependent on their children for emotional and social support and that widows turn to their siblings for support. Using recent research, she points out that kin support is also based on the age of the widow, the gender, age and availability of her children, and other social roles that she is performing. …

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