Widows and Widowers Law and Legal Definition

A widow is a woman whose husband died while she was married to him and who has not since remarried. A widower is a man whose wife died while he was married to her and who has not since remarried. Generally, a person who divorces someone who later dies is not considered a widow or widower, although they may be entitled to certain of the deceased's Social Security benefits.

Under the system of levirate marriage known as Yibbum described in the Hebrew Bible, a widow is obligated to marry her husband's brother. In order to avoid this marriage, the brother-in-law of the widow must perform a ceremony called halizah.