Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Widow's Peak

Monday, March 26, 2012
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What in the world is a widow’s peak? I know that it is a phrase used to describe a type of hairline where your hair shapes into a V in the middle of your forehead (think Eddie Munster). But where did this name or saying come from?

According to Wikipedia, the phrase started in the 16th century when widows would wear a black hood that came to a point over their face to show that they were in mourning.  I bet that didn’t look too weird.  “Don’t pay any attention to that woman over there.  She has a black hood over her face.  She lost her husband and must be hiding her eyes because she is crying so much.”

When I think of a peak, I think of the highest point of a mountain – like Pike’s Peak.  But how does this relate to mourning?  Does it mean that widows hit a peak when they grieve so hard?  This implies that there is a top point to our grief, like at a top of a mountain, and then the grief starts to go down. 

I think I would like to change the phrase to Widow’s Peaks and Valleys.  Notice how I used plural: peaks and valleys.  This better portrays our actual experience.  We have many days (and nights) when we think that this must be the worse that it can get; I must be at the “peak” of my grief.  This horrible feeling usually subsides so we get down in a valley or plateau when we are able to function somewhat normally again.  Then another thing/event/item sets us off to in another wave of emotions and we hit another peak.  Back and forth, we go.  But as time goes by, these peaks and valleys seem to get smaller, start to even out, or become less of really high point or low point.  We work through these peaks and valleys, dealing with the ebb and flow of emotions as best we can.

At least I am not forced to wear a black hood that comes to a point on the top of my forehead.


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