November 2018

Page A14 NOVEMBER 2018 FUNERAL HOME & CEMETERY NEWS S ec t i on A “The entire floor misses your laughter,” said the young fe- male staff member standing at my office door. It had been just four months since my bride, Michelle Knoll, had earned her angel wings following her 39 month battle against pan- creatic cancer. She died on March 7, 2008. “They’re miss- ing my laughter!” Wow! A real wake-up call if there ever was one. I knew I needed help in dealing with my grief, and I A Widower’s Wake-up Call By Herb Knoll Herb Knoll intended on finding it. During the days ahead, I visited my church, a coun- selor at Veterans Administra- tion and my local Barnes & Noble bookstore. “What do you have for a new widow- er” I inquired of the clerk be- hind the counter. The atten- dant typed “widower” into his computer’s search engine and then looked up at me, almost apologetically saying, “Mister, I don’t have a damn thing for you.” How could this be? Nothing? Those words spoken to me by the bookstore’s clerk changed my life in ways too numerous to count. There was no way I was willing to accept the apparent lack of materi- als available to widowed men. Someone needed to write a book for men, and I decided that person was me. As it turns out, later, I did find a few books written for widowers, but they were few in number and inadequate at best. Within a few months, I resigned my position as a senior executive at a nationwide bank and rededicated my life to the service of men who grieve. I embarked on a new journey, a new pur- pose in which I would tirelessly, and without compensation, endeavor to research the world of widowers and then make my findings available to those who mourn. What I discovered should frighten us all. There are 420,000 new widowers each year in America. One in five men will eventually be widowed with many of them becoming double widowers. In total, there are about 2.7 million widowers in America yet few people are able to name even one. That’s be- cause men draw little attention to themselves when grieving or the pain they endure. That’s because men do not believe they have permission to grieve. As a result, widowers with- draw from many facets of society and grieve in the shadows. This is precisely when their trouble begins. Widowed men have an in- creased rate of suicide that is 3-4 times greater than that of married men. They suf- fer from grief of course, but many widowers also suffer from problems such as substance abuse, alcoholism, diabetes, hy- pertension, and other ailments. Sixty-five percent will have a life-threatening illness within twelve months of their wife’s passing. Others suffer from financial concerns, career prob- lems, legal problems, and more, why still others become an- gry with the Almighty. Many have difficulty dealing with family members including their own children while still oth- ers become the prey of predator women or the victim of poor choices they have made in response to their grief. To help widowers address these and other challenges, I established the Widowers Support Network (WSN) in 2014, ( ) whose mis- sion it is to comfort and support widowers and the fami- lies who love them. WSN also supports men who are care- givers for seriously ill or terminally ill spouses. All service provided by WSN are free. After nine years of research, supported by the candid par- ticipation of over forty widowers from across America, as well as the counsel provided by fifteen subject matter ex- perts from the fields of sociology, psychology, law, con- sumer finance, religion and more, WSN released The Wid- ower’s Journey (2017) in paperback and all digital formats. Today, WSN serves widowers and caregivers from across North America including Mexico and Canada. The Wid- ower’s Journey has become the definitive breakout book of choice for widowers everywhere. As one widower said it, “The Widower’s Journey is not the kind of book you read only one time.” And given the book’s substantive content, women love it too! During coming months, and thanks to Nomis Publica- tions, funeral directors and cemeterians will enjoy a series of articles about widowers and the world in which they are con- fronted. Each piece will be laced with detailed research as well as best practices that are intended to enable Funeral Home Continued on Page A15 1-800-321-7479 THE 2019 EDITIONS