Widows show third-year rebound

7:44pm, September 14, 2003

A widow typically struggles with grief immediately after her husband dies. By 3 years after the loss, however, these women have largely overcome grief-related problems, such as depression, social isolation, bodily pains, and poor eating habits, according to a large U.S. study of 50- to 79-year-olds.

The findings underscore the resilience of older women faced with sea changes in their lives, say Sara Wilcox of the University of South Carolina in Columbia and her coworkers. The data also highlight a need for social and mental-health programs for women within the first year of their husbands' deaths, the researchers say in the September Health Psychology.

Using surveys and medical data, Wilcox's group first focused on the responses of 72,247 women who had been widowed in the past year, widowed for more than 1 year, or married. The researchers then examined 3-year follow-up data for 55,724 of those women.

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