NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

April 5, 2013

Adjusting to a 'new normal'

With book, Salisbury widow aims to help others face grief

Even a strong woman can lose her way when death takes her husband, leaving only grief to fill the void once filled by the love of her life.

Darkness enveloped Constance Wilder when her husband, Larry, succumbed to a four-year battle with melanoma in 2002, at the age of only 61. The struggle back for Wilder was arduous, taking her years to get comfortable with the new person she’d become after the skin cancer took her “other half.”

“One reason you feel lost is you’re meeting a new person, because the construction of your life has changed,” said Wilder of Salisbury. “It doesn’t matter who the person you lost is, a huge part of your life has blown apart, and the person you were becomes a foreigner to you. Even though you don’t understand yourself because you’re grief-stricken, you have to trust yourself. The only thing left is to trust your instincts.”

For Wilder, the journey back to a rewarding, albeit, different life wasn’t easy and took her longer than she expected. But through the pitfalls and windfalls of those years, the 67-year old mother of two grown children fought to regain her footing.

At Wilder’s core is a person who “sees the glass as half-full,” even in her darkest hours, a trait she shared with Larry, a perpetual optimist right up until the days before he died.

The journey to what is now her “new normal” fills her new small book entitled, “Above & Beyond Wellfleet, A Memoir About Welcoming Life After Loss,” published recently by her own publishing house, Tiny Tomes Publications.

As desperate as Wilder was 11 years ago when her husband died, the resulting book isn’t maudlin, nor one that spouts profound philosophies. The thin volume is merely 73 pages, distilled down from four notebooks Wilder poured her soul into after Larry was gone.

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