NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

April 5, 2013

Adjusting to a 'new normal'

With book, Salisbury widow aims to help others face grief

(Continued)

Written with short sentences, concise paragraphs and tight, brief chapters, “Above & Beyond Welfleet” is a speed read that can be finished in less than two hours. The final result was not an accident.

“That was very deliberate,” Wilder said. “In the early days of grieving you can’t take on too much. I wrote the book because I wanted to help; I didn’t want to preach. I intended the book to be something you could keep on your bedside table, to summon in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep. I call them the night terrors.”

Wilder knew of a similar book that helped her in just that way, she said. Her nightstand volume was “A Grief Observed,” by C.S. Lewis, the 160-page companion she referred to often, to this day.

“Grief has no expiration date,” Wilder said. “People want you to get over it, and you want to get over it. People ask you how you’re doing and they want you to say, ‘Fine.’ But the real answer you want to give is: ‘I’m really, really awful.’ But, don’t become impatient with your grief; it comes in waves. Others need to be patient, but ultimately it’s up to the grieving person to find out what to do.”

For Wilder, that included selling the Cape Cod home she and Larry lovingly restored for their retirement and packing up and settling in Newburyport to be near her children. Now in Salisbury, Wilder lives in a condo and revels when the light shines in, bouncing off keepsakes, making her think her late husband’s essence is sending the sunbeams.

Writing saved Wilder. It started from the moment she put pen to paper on the horrible night when she realized her husband would soon die. The solace it provided is not surprising for an English major from Elmira College, who became the spokeswoman for New York’s city of Rochester and county of Monroe, prior to opening her own small communications consulting firm.

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