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The Life Stories of Older Widows - Situating Later Life Widowhood Within the Life Course

By Pat Chambers

Abstract

Widowhood in later life, an expected life course transition for older women, is\ud generally presented in the literature as a homogenous ‘problem’ of old age, a\ud time of unhappiness, loneliness and decline. The bulk of the research has been\ud quantitative and has been carried out within two years of the death of the\ud spouse, during a time in which some women are still coming to terms with loss.\ud Little attention has been paid to the ongoing experience of widowhood, despite\ud the fact that an older woman may spend many years as a widow. Furthermore,\ud widowhood has been treated as an entity in itself rather than an integral part of\ud older women’s lives. This paper suggests that by using a biographical\ud approach, which engages older women in the research process, it is possible to\ud look at widowhood through a different lens: one, which acknowledges both the\ud multiplicity of experiences and relationships that older women bring to this\ud time of their lives and the diversity therein. Drawing on a series of unstructured\ud interviews with older widows from Stockport, the paper suggests that the use\ud of a biographical approach, underpinned by feminist gerontology, provides us\ud with a unique opportunity to gain an understanding of the multi-faceted\ud experience of later life widowhood from the perspective of older widows\ud themselves

Topics: HQ, H1, BF
Publisher: University of Huddersfield
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:5129

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