Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Dr. Joanne Z. Moore.
Dr. Moore is the author of “After the Loss of a Spouse: What’s Next?” (Act II Publications, LLC). She also edits the digital magazine, Pathfinder: A Companion Guide for the Widow/er’s Journey. Moore is a member of Toastmaster’s International and has achieved the Distinguished Toastmaster level; she enjoys public speaking and facilitates retreats on end of life and bereavement issues. Also a physical therapist, she owns Shoreline Physical Therapy. Dr. Moore makes her home in East Lyme, CT.
“After the Loss of a Spouse: What’s Next?” was published last month, and is averaging 5-stars on Amazon. Reader Marlisa Mills noted, “Dr. Joanne Moore shares her unique perspective on how to not only survive the loss of a spouse, but also how to handle the small things that frequently overwhelm widows and widowers. Leaning on both professional and personal experience, Joanne leads the reader to look at both the day to day challenges that accompany the grieving process and rebuilding life, as well as the emotional and psychological barriers encountered. This is an excellent book with down to earth, practical guidance. As a bereavement director in a large hospice, I intend to use this book for my families. I am grateful for Joanne’s work …”
From the publisher:
After the Loss of a Spouse: What’s Next? is a concise guidebook for rebuilding a life after the loss of a spouse. Compassionately written, author Joanne Z Moore offers strategies for honoring the memory of the marriage and perpetuating the influence of his or her spirit. A series of activities guides the reader to develop a new philosophy of life that will serve as a foundation for joyful and meaningful years ahead. Topics include honoring the memory, home, health, emotions, family, travel, finance, friendship, hobbies, return to dating, pets, getting our affairs in order, managing mistakes, setting goals and decision making. Perfect for individuals and for groups.
Now, Dr. Joanne Z. Moore shares what comes “After the Loss of a Spouse” …
John Valeri: What first inspired you to write this book – and how do you hope that sharing your story might benefit others who’ve experienced the loss of a life partner?
Joanne Moore: I did a lot of soul searching after the loss of my husband. It started with a constant, underlying anxiety. My worry jumped in any direction at any time. I didn’t sleep well. I realized that at every other stage of life (getting into college, planning a wedding, raising children), there were lots of people around to offer guidance. But there weren’t too many people there to help me rebuild a life. I had to find a way to organize my list of issues, and to develop strategies to manage life. So I considered everything, from faith to vacations. I did a lot of work, and then realized it was silly for each of us to have to do that much. I shared my thought processes to help others develop their own philosophy.
JV: How did the writing process help you to work through your own grief – and in what ways can having a creative outlet be cathartic?
JM: When I began the writing process, I took a couple of weeks’ vacation from my job as a physical therapist, and dedicated 8 hours a day to writing. The writing has a physicality to it — I took intangible worries and articulated them. Once the problems are so well defined, the options become more apparent.
I did one creative project that was meaningful to me — I took a vase of tulips, and photographed it every 3 days, from bud to dried out. Then I took photos of me and Joe — on our wedding day, with our babies, hiking during middle age, and my shaving his head for chemo, and then the picture that is on the cover of my book, of me kneeling at his grave. I took the pictures and lined them up, starting with the unopened buds and us on our wedding day…
JV: Beyond grief, the book deals with purpose and how to regain a semblance of normalcy. What are some of the common obstacles to doing so – and how would you encourage people to begin to make that transition?
JM: After any crisis, there comes a “new normal”. This is true in going from adolescence into adulthood, or after having a baby. Those transitions weren’t really easy either, but somehow we made it. Good transitions allow us to appreciate where we were, and to honor that time. But it also requires us to find the best in the new situation. I think that recognizing what your strengths and talents are really helps. Build on what you have that you love, and leave behind anything that brings you down. Recognize that for the first time in your life, you can do anything that you want to do. While that may be daunting, it can also be freeing. I believe that it IS respectful of the memory to become your best person. Know that (s)he would want you to be happy.
JV: How have generational differences impacted life after the loss of a significant other – and how does this signify the importance of acceptance of an altered life?
JM: Younger widow/ers are still raising children, and they need to take care of the children and well as themselves. (See PathfinderMag.com for articles on parenting). They don’t have the luxury of time to wallow in grief. But, younger people also have the benefit of more social opportunities in the workplace. Older people may cling to ideas of how widow/ers are “supposed” to act. I hope that they don’t follow a prescribed course, but that they listen to their hearts and live intentionally. It’s never too late to develop new interests and friends.
JV: The book is interactive to engage the reader, whether individually or as part of a group. Tell us about these elements and how they enhance your purpose.
JM: The book has chapters on a variety of topics. It asks the reader to develop a philosophy of life, step by step. It can be done individually, or by a group. It’s fun to have a buddy as we try new ideas out.
JV: You have referred to widow/er-hood as “what might be the final taboo subject.” Why do you think that is – and what can we do to make it part of a more common dialogue?
JM: We are still a death abhorrent society. It is not considered socially accepted to discuss death in public. Some of us don’t like admitting weakness, and put on a happy face. Others become tearful, and make those around them uncomfortable. No one knows what to say to us. (Hint: A good friend just has to be present and to care. There is no right thing to say, so don’t worry about it. ) But — we can make those around us comfortable. We set the tone. Greet old friends warmly. Tell them how they can help. Show interest in them, too.
With thanks to Joanne Moore for her generosity of time and thought and to publicist Lisa Saunders for helping to facilitate this interview.