Widows and Orphans Development Foundation

Overview of widowhood in The Netherlands

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, there are 858,443 widowed persons in the Netherlands out of the total population of 17,282,163 as of December 2019. Among them, 657,169 are widowed women and 201,274 widowed men.

The death of the spouse can be a major source of loneliness, psycho-social stress, and depression to the widowed persons. Conjugal bereavement may directly deteriorate the physical health of the surviving spouse by impairing the immune system, increasing the prevalence of chronic illnesses.

Researches show that the death of the partner increases the mortality rate of the surviving spouse especially during the first three years, in particular among the older widows. Men are more vulnerable to depression than women during the widowhood period compared to women.

Experts suggest that social relationships and networks may help alleviate loneliness and stress thus enhancing the wellbeing of widowed persons and reducing the costs of formal care services.

In the Netherlands, WODF will focus on programs that aim at combating loneliness and enhancing the psycho-social wellbeing of widows through activities that address emotional, psychological and social issues that affect widowed persons such as sustainable social networking .

It will also empower destitute women such as refugees and underprivileged migrant women. 

1. Psychosocial support

 In the Netherlands and other developed countries, the death of the spouse and bereavement may lead to psycho-social stress, depression, and loneliness especially for old persons thus deteriorating the physical health and general wellbeing. This translates to more care costs on the part of the government and families.

WODF creates space for widows’ peer to peer emotional and psycho-social support, encouragement, inspiration and networking amongst the widowed women and men with a view of rebuilding their lives with a renewed positive perspective thus improving their well-being.

The program also includes:

  • Group meetings with the grief / bereavement experts and other pyschosocial experts to help them manage stress and anxiety caused by the loss of the loved ones.
  • Home visits by our volunteers to the lonely widowed persons to share light moments by way of conversation and help with small errands. 

These activities will help them to alleviate loneliness and live a socially healthy life.

2. Social inclusion of old widows to tackle loneliness and isolation

WODF implements programs aimed at enhancing social inclusion and wellbeing of widowed women and men within the Netherlands so as to alleviate stress and loneliness for them to become resilient vital members of the society.

The program involves regular socialization meetings and other activities that bring together old widowed persons (both women and men) and other lonely elderly people.

The activities will involve:

  • Regular socialization meetings.
  • Day retreats for social activities.
  • Lunch / dinner parties aimed at providing space for social networking.
  • Celebrating together holidays and key dates such as: International Widows Day, Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day  and other important dates.  

Through these activities, they will build social contacts and networks, and socialize with their peers,  

This will help promote social inclusion and improve their well-being while tackling loneliness,  grief and isolation, especially for old widowed persons.  

3. Social inclusion for destitute women and children

WODF will also pursue programs that will target destitute persons in the Netherlands such as refugees and underprivileged migrant women and young people.

This will involve:

  • Training refugee / migrant women and young people on various aspects such as digital / computer / numeracy literacy and job coaching to prepare them for labour integration.
  • Training them on prevention of domestic violence and cultural diversity with a view of promoting social inclusion and integration into the Dutch society. 
  • Organising forums and seminars aimed at information sharing on refugee rights and access to basic needs and other resources necessary for their wellbeing as newcomers.