This week I sent a 50th wedding anniversary card to my cousin and my wife reminded me that we are coming up to that milestone ourselves in 2017. That got me thinking about how we respond when a long-term relationship like these ends due to the death of a spouse.

Some not-too-recent research shows that men are at greater risk of dying after the loss of a spouse than women (1-4). Also, on a happier note this higher risk diminishes over time.

In my current motion picture project, the main character is an older man who experienced the death of his wife. This loss has affected him, not in any tragic way, but in significant ones. For one he has avoided new romantic attachments. Throughout the film, his dead wife visits him and encourages his re-engagement with life. Below is an excerpt from the unfinished film that illustrates one man’s way of coping with loss.

After watching this clip, consider how you will respond should you become the surviving spouse.


  1. Helsing, KJ & Szklo, M. Mortality after bereavement. Am J Epidemiol. 1981 Jul;114(1):41-52.
  2. Jacobs, S & Ostfeld, A. An epidemiological review of the mortality of bereavement. Psychosom Med. 1977 Sep-Oct;39(5):344-57.
  3. Martikainen, P & Valkonen, T. Mortality after the death of a spouse: rates and causes of death in a large Finnish cohort. Am J Public Health. 1996 August; 86(8 Pt 1): 1087–1093.
  4. Martikainen, P & Valkonen, T. Mortality after death of spouse in relation to duration of bereavement in Finland. J Epidemiol Community Health. 1996 Jun;50(3):264-8.

Join us for a real-time discussion about questions raised by this essay on Tuesday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: