July 9, 2008

Note to Men: Get Married

In the parish where I work we average just over a hundred funerals a year. So I've had a lot of experience with wakes, funerals, and committals in the year I've been here. I've made a lot of observations in the course of this, but here's one of the most striking: there is, generally, a remarkable difference between the funeral of an old maid and that of an old bachelor.

Now I'm no sociologist, and I don't know any real statistics, but it seems to me in my anecdotal experience that old maids live just as long as their married sisters. What's more, they seem to have just as many friends and associates who show up for their wakes and funerals.

It ain't so with old bachelors. They seem to die younger than their married brothers. They also usually have many fewer people show up for their wakes and funerals.

If I may wildly and irresponsibly extrapolate from my experience, it seems that for men, staying single is bad for you. For women, it doesn't seem to make much difference.

Anybody who really knows anything care to correct or corroborate my conclusions?


Anonymous said...

There is a "marriage effect" that favors longer life. The marriage effect is strongest for men, but does exist a bit for women.

Generally, sociological research since the publication of Emile Durkheim's Suicide in the 1890s has found that marriage promotes longevity, and that social ties do the same.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the comment, anonymous!

Pia said...

I like the combination in your tags: death, fun... :-)

Here in Italy, our wakes are nothing like wakes in the US: the body is not made up or imbalsamated, no food, drink, no living rooms with soft lights etc) Most wakes are at home, unless the person died in the hospital, in which case the wake is held in a cold (or hot in summer) room in the building that houses the morgue.

At one wake (in a house)my husband was sitting in the room where his uncle lay in the casket, and he took a look around: there was his aunt (the wife of the deceased), her sisters, a few neighbors. They were all women, except for him and while the ladies recited the rosary, droning away, another peculiarity came to his attention: They were all widows. He got up and left the room, laughing under his breath, but he was really affected by that realization, and he still talks about it every once in a while. In fact, there are many widows around here, and few widowers. Widows tend to live long lives, whereas the few widowers around, do not last very long.

The widows, with time, seem to take out a new lease on life. They go to Mass every day, do their shopping for bread, fresh fish, meat or whatever, at the little shops. They will stop and chat with friends along the way and maybe gossip a bit.

Widowers, on the other hand, though they do go to the sidewalk cafe and meet their friends for a game of "scopa" or a beer, tend to live more solitary lives. They don't usually go to Mass. (It's tabu for men to go to church in this town). It seems to me that women here, live their lives of faith more deeply than men, and maybe that's one of the secrets of their longevity and their good health.

Sue said...

Brother Charles,
Medical information in the US is well documented that men who are not married have significantly poorer health and do not live as long. There have been many newspaper articles verifying this information. God bless.