Odumase, (Sunyani West, Bono region) May 29, 2024.

Losing a spouse is an incredibly difficult experience, often leaving individuals feeling overwhelmed and helpless. 

Many widows and widowers turn to alcoholism for temporary relief, but this behavior exacerbates their mental instability and physical health problems. 

One night, while caregivers were asleep, the sleepless widow was spotted walking to the fridge loaded with drinks for the funeral. 

She took some of the hard alcoholic drinks and began drinking.

Unfortunately, the drinking continued for several hours. 

When asked why she was drinking, she explained, “It was to reduce the pain I am going through.” 

She added that “the pain, coupled with maltreatment from the family of the late husband is too much and not easy to cope with.”

This situation leads many widows and widowers to alcohol and other substances uses in an attempt to numb the pain, with the believe to help stabilize the mind during such hard times, but “this rather affects many of them health-wise.” 

Mrs. Gifty Nyarko Karikari, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of G2 Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) dedicated to the welfare of the vulnerable, particularly widows, widowers, orphans, persons with disabilities, and the elderly said in an interview.

The foundation focuses on the health, education, and socioeconomic improvement of its target groups.

Mrs. Nyarko Karikari stated substance abuse isn’t the right way to handle such painful emotions, and even do more harm to the grieving individual, because one can be addicted to the act and regular drinking can impair parenting, affect children’s well-being, and delay psychological recovery.

“Despite the initial sedative effects of alcohol, it disrupts sleep, numbs emotions, and hinders grief processing,” she emphasized.

Overcoming the Challenges

Mrs. Nyarko Karikari suggested some key coping mechanisms to kickstart the healing processes and overcome the circumstances include seeking support through counseling and making a bold decision to step away from substances during troubled times.

Additionally, seeking proper medical advice and taking appropriate medications to curb the desire to drink alcohol are important steps good for healing both the mind and heart. 

Women Resilient Strategies 

In further development, Madam Serah Kahuri, a Kenyan motivational speaker and widow, noted women face myriad challenges in various spheres of life, including career, family, and personal well-being. 

She noted cultivating resilience is crucial for women to navigate life’s complexities, overcome obstacles, and achieve their full potential, therefore shared strategies for women to cultivate resilience in navigating these challenges and thriving despite adversity.

Madam Kahuri explained it is important the widow or widower prioritized self-care, peer support groups, online communities, and networking events for maintaining physical, mental, and emotional well-being, as well as opportunities for connection and solidarity. 

Having been a widow for many years and currently a PhD student in Sustainable Land Management, University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), Mad. Kahuri added that regular exercise, mindfulness practices, adequate sleep, and healthy nutrition can help women manage stress and build resilience.

She advocated for equipping women with coping mechanisms such as problem-solving skills, positive reframing, and stress management techniques to enhance their ability to navigate challenges effectively. 

She strongly believed encouraging the development of resilience-building habits, such as setting realistic goals, practicing gratitude, and seeking professional support, can also be beneficial. 

Madam Kahuri also highlighted the need to promote gender equity advocate for inclusive policies and practices, and foster environments that value diversity and inclusion and urged women to challenge societal norms and gender-based expectations to empower themselves and pursue their goals.

Support Systems

Madam Kahuri called on Civil Society Organizations to champion the provision of resources and support systems tailored to the unique needs of women. 

She added educational institutions and workplaces should promote gender equity and provide opportunities for women to develop skills and leadership capabilities. 

Policy makers should also enact policies that address systemic barriers and promote gender equity in all aspects of life, she said.

The motivational speaker was optimistic that by building strong support networks, prioritizing self-care, developing coping skills, cultivating adaptability, challenging societal norms, and seeking mentorship, women can enhance their resilience and thrive in the face of adversity.

Mental Health

A community mental health experts who spoke to the situation said widows and widowers facing these challenges might not only turn to alcohol but also experience severe mental instability. 

Miss Nancy Fosuaa, a Community Mental Health Officer at the Sunyani Municipal Mental Health Unit, explained in further interview. 

According to her, suicidal thoughts and ideations become high among widows and widowers, making them likely to commit suicide if not counseled. 

Miss Fosuaa added that widows and widowers also face a series of health challenges, including weight loss, disorganization, and changes in eating patterns. 

She urged families and friends to keep eye on bereaved relatives and ensure they maintain a stable mind to avoid any additional consequences.

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