Book gives voice to war widows

Understanding grief and loss: Many Hearts, One Voice author Melinda Tognini with war widows Will Greathead and Joy Smith.  Picture: Robin Kornet        www.communitypix.com.au   d445643
Understanding grief and loss: Many Hearts, One Voice author Melinda Tognini with war widows Will Greathead and Joy Smith. Picture: Robin Kornet        www.communitypix.com.au d445643

WHEN it comes to war, many reflect on the sacrifices of thousands of men and women who served their country in a fight to make the world a better place.

But few think about the sacrifices of those left behind – the parents, children, husbands and wives waving off loved ones, usually to a far away land.

For some, those loved ones never return.

The War Widows Guild of Australia was formed at the end of World War II, representing and providing support for more than 18,000 war widows around the country.

For women like Will Greathead and Attadale’s Joy Smith, the WA branch has provided much more than support; it has fostered strong friendships that have endured for years.

Author Melinda Tognini has brought together stories of the guild’s history, connections and the fight for recognition in her new book Many Hearts, One Voice.

“I realised that war widows had long been on the margins of history and that their story deserved to be told in a way that brought them to the centre of the narrative,” Tognini said.

“Over the past eight years I’ve spent most Mondays at the guild researching, writing and chatting to the members who meet up each week.

“Being a part of the guild provided these women with support from others who understood their grief and loss, as well as a sense of purpose, as they became actively involved.” Tognini said she hoped that the publication of the book would allow more of these widows’ stories to be told.

“While there are still men and women being deployed overseas, there will be a need for the emotional and practical support offered by the War Widows Guild,” she said.

“Whether a widow is 19 or 90, whether someone has been widowed for 60 years or six weeks, there are women who understand what they are going through because they have been in a similar situation.”

Many Hearts, One Voice is available from Fremantle Press. Visit www.warwidows.org.au for more information on the Guild.