Book Review: ‘For Widows Only’

February 24, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

GETTING THROUGH: Author Annie Estlund gives solid advice on coping with the death of a loved one.  (
GETTING THROUGH: Author Annie Estlund gives solid advice on coping with the death of a loved one. (
For Widows Only, by Annie Estlund, is a practical, hands-on text for widows—and widowers—who face the often sudden death of a loved one and are ill-prepared to deal with the event.

The writer provides logical, sane coping skills in easy-to-understand language. My husband died a couple of months ago, and I just now have found this book. I consider it a valuable resource and wish I had found it sooner.

Estlund had no such book to rely on when she was suddenly widowed at 55. She decided then to write the book, but it took almost 10 years of work to produce this complete, final version.

Her point of view: the more useful information and coping skills a widow (or widower) has available, the easier it is to transition from life with a partner to living life as a single, and having to make all major and minor decisions by yourself.

The author divides the content into three parts.

"What Happened? From Reeling to Healing" contains coping skills as the bereaved wade through the often confusing mazes of grief, anxiety, and uncertainty.

"Now What? Living in the Present" suggests strategies for finding solutions regarding worrisome issues such as finances, taxes, how to gain emotional stability, how to function as a single parent, and other such matters.

"What Next? Embarking on Your Future" presents vignettes in decision making, including how to construct a satisfying new life for yourself and how to survive the rigorous stages of grief. It also contains cautionary advice about dating again.

The epilogue "There is life after grief, even for widows" includes brief stories of recovered widows' lives and includes poetry, gut-level discussion where widows relate how they discovered new lives they never dreamed possible. I like the segment that admonishes women not to neglect their physical appearance.

The book gives a helping hand in a time of need and is filled with thoughts and exercises that give widows new hope for a future without their mate. In addition, many of the suggestions apply to anyone who is suffering a personal loss—loss of health, of fortune, or loss of friends.

I abandoned my preconceived notion about self-help books in this category. This is one book I recommend highly.

For Widows Only is published by iUniverse (2003) and is available at