How to Avoid "Unenlightened Sorrow": A Statistical Analysis of Plain Remarriage


  • Ben Wesley Beachy Kent State University



demography, widowhood, bereavement effect, social change


This article is a basic quantitative analysis of widowhood and remarriage trends among several Plain churches. When compared to past studies of similar topics, a remarkable consistency of findings across both time and sect can be identified. Bereaved Plain spouses have largely experienced widowhood along separate gender-specific paths, in data sets ranging from 1730 to 2019 and from relatively liberal to traditional communities. Positing that much of Amish and Amish Mennonite society is designed to socialize and retain children, this article offers opportunities for deeper study of the parental roles undergirding that society. The primary research suggestions include spousal function in the context of family life, the various factors influencing the health of bereaved spouses, and the "marriage squeeze" present in many churches. The central data sets used in this study were collected from the 2019 edition of the Amish Mennonite Directory and the 2015 Church Directory of the Lancaster County Amish and Outlying Daughter Settlements. These reference books were sampled on a one-in-five and one-in-three basis, respectively. The resultant widowhood cases were contextualized by widowhood cases from studies by Elmer Lewis Smith and researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.