Deb Rae.
Deb Rae. Lee Constable

'I had been robbed of everything dear to me,' widow

NEW research reveals that almost half (49%) of young women did not have the support they needed after losing a loved one.

Meet, marry and live happily ever after is the life plan for most Australians.

Sadly, life often fails to deliver this fairy tale, with almost half a million (464,849) Australian women losing their husbands between 2007 and 2014.

In fact, women are twice as likely (47%) to lose their spouse than men and the unexpected loss of a loved one can come at any time with almost 1 in 3 deaths being premature .

Startling new research shows that many young women are not getting the support that they need when grieving the loss of a loved one.

The research carried out by Deb Rae Solutions has revealed that young women struggle more in the face of loss than any other age group, with those aged under 34 much more likely to encounter feelings of loss, anger and isolation during their grief.

Sadly, almost half of young women (49%) felt that they did not have the support they needed during their grief with 1 in 4 women feeling mostly alone from the start.

The research also revealed that although 82% of young women felt friends and relatives helped them through their loss, 1 in 10 felt that support had disappeared after the funeral and there was an expectation to 'move on'.

On International Widow's Day (June 23), Deb Rae provides a new resource and a totally fresh approach to dealing with grief for young widows through her book 'Getting There'.

After her husband was killed in an accident overseas at the age of 36, Ms Rae was surprised at how little information, help and support there was available.

"I searched for a guidebook to get me through those first twelve months and beyond. There was none. I knew there must be hundreds of widows facing the same pain every week - and they probably felt as lost as I did," she said. 

"The statistics show that an overwhelming number of people feel alone through their grief, with such a large number of the bereaved feeling that they are lacking the support that they need to get through their loss.

"Although these numbers seem high, it's not particularly surprising given that when someone is going through a loss, their world is turned upside down and it's very difficult to understand what support you need, let alone where to find it.

"The best support we can give someone who is grieving is the understanding that grief is a very personal and individual journey. It doesn't follow a specific timeline or a pre-determined linear pattern. People often have the impression that you need to be strong, however being vulnerable actually takes much more courage and being able to express your emotions is what grief is all about.

"The research also showed that the lack of support was particularly felt in women under the age of 34 and although people associate losing a loved one later on in life, many women actually experience this early on."

Carolyn Puglisi, 43, from Adelaide sadly experienced the loss of her husband at the age of 33 after a 15 month battle with cancer.

"I felt as though I had been robbed of everything that was dear to me, my children were the only things left in my life that kept me going," she said.

"There were dark days, weeks and months when I struggled with how the grief controlled me. At the time I didn't realise that it would be the rebuild of my life that would begin to minimise the gaping hole that I was experiencing.

"The hole still remains but my children and I have managed to find happiness around it every day."

Ms Puglisi said she can associate with the anger and isolation felt by young women but also the lack of support, particularly for young widows.

"At the beginning, I felt that I had zero support. I know that I had the support of my family and friends but that did not matter but none of them really knew what I was going through and there was no support specifically for young people," she said.

"It was a much needed resource."

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