Interviews with Widows Following Fatal Farming Incidents

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Brandt, Victoria A.;
  • Scheerer, Amy


Farm families have been identified traditionally with a strong family bond resulting from both living and working together. When a farming fatality occurs, surviving family members are left to deal with not only the tragedy of losing a loved one, but also the loss of a coworker. Although every family experiencing a loss will deal with bereavement issues, farm families are faced with additional challenges that differentiate them from other family situations. A qualitative research methodology was employed to understand the complex mix of challenges facing farm families after the death of a family member. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with farming widows in Kentucky to explore the stresses and challenges related to the farm business, family relationships, and the mental health of the individual members. Becoming the primary decision maker for the farm and household was a difficult role for the widows. Economic issues were an underlying consideration in many aspects of the experiences and changes they encountered. The need to make economic decisions almost immediately while continuing the necessary chores to maintain crops and livestock was very stressful and left little time for bereavement. Often the support from family, friends, and neighbors went beyond emotional comforting to providing help with farm chores and guidance on financial decisions. In developing resources for farm families in similar circumstances, it is important to understand how intertwined their lives are with their environment and the economics of the business.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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