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Above and Beyond Wellfleet: A memoir about welcoming life after loss Paperback – March 21, 2013
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
"Connie just refuses to accept negativity," says a good friend. "Connie seems motivated by staying positive even in the bleakest of moments." One of the bleakest moments in her life was when her husband died after a long battle with cancer. Above and Beyond Wellfeet chronicles Wilder's experiences in the decade following his death. The ability to tell herself the truth is one of her salvations. It matters to her that she lives a truthful life. "Sometimes,"Wilder says, "a certain amount of denial can be healthy. Knowing when to chuck it and face the truth is tricky."Admitting that the end was near shortly before her husband died, gave Wilder the strength ultimately to accept it. Wilder sold her husband's and her beautiful Cape Cod home (meant to be where they retired to live a long and healthy life) just months after he died, going against advice proffered to all who have suffered significant loss: Make no irreversible decisions for a year. Instead, she followed what her instincts were telling her to do. Wilder admits that she does have an inner voice, one that she listens to through her writing. The book cover painting -the title of which is "Above Wellfleet" --jump started her decision to sell the house and is the subject in the first chapter of the book. For many years, Wilder wrote for others in her professional life as a public relations professional. Her decision to begin to write for herself was prompted by her belief that those experiencing grief were often left alone in their misery. She hopes her book will become a companion that can be summoned in the middle of the night at 3AM-which Wilder calls the universal hour of grief when the night terrors strike and family and friends are asleep. Above and Beyond Wellfleet is a tiny book about a ponderous subject. She deliberately made the decision to write a spare book, believing that the grieving person is unable to cope with even the most simple tasks and that the mind--a condition that she calls "grief brain"-- has been put temporarily on hold making it impossible to absorb much information. In getting to know Connie Wilder, this person who's written a book about grief, it's obvious that she has smiled through sadness. She believes most grieving people do smile, wearing it as a mask to hide their real feelings. Above and Beyond Wellfleet exposes the real heartache, and the journey toward making the broken heart whole again.
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Loss, especially the death of a loved one, may be the most common human experience. No matter. We continue to hear and believe that we are “never really prepared”. The sense is that there is no way to prepare. Why?
Ms. Wilder describes the “never prepared” state as akin to having been dropped into a foreign place and, more importantly, becoming foreigners to ourselves. Above and Beyond is her account of a decade-long journey back to familiarity. It is about resilience, determination and, above all, the spirit. Readers of faith will say, “Oh, yes. Thank you, God.” More agnostic readers will say, “Ah. Of course. I see.”
The book’s subtitle, “A memoir about welcoming life after loss,” may be off-putting to readers, like myself, who are suspicious of memoirs about loss as leaning to a kind of preciousness – sentimental, self-absorbed, exhibiting excessive use of the personal pronoun. Above and Beyond is not remotely such. It is a lean, spare account, at once highly personal and common to us all, and easily read in a single setting.
I doubt that there is one extraneous word in this book. Readers who are given to skimming, will catch themselves going back to get every word. This is prose for savoring, text for absorbing. I have visions of thousands tucking Above and Beyond into purses and briefcases and under pillows, always keeping it close for the reassurance – even inspiration – it offers. And for the unadulterated pleasure of reading a beautifully written work about love writ large.
Do yourself a favor: Get this book!