East Lyme therapist helps bereaved find a new path

East Lyme physical therapist Joanne Moore, above, recently started a new magazine, "Pathfinder: A Companion Guide for the Widow/er's Journey," meant to help those who have lost spouses ease the transition from grieving to a new life.

When one suffers the loss of a spouse, the road ahead can be paved with many challenges. But East Lyme resident Joanne Moore has come up with a way to help widows and widowers of all ages find a smoother new path filled with hope and happiness as they transition from grieving to building a new life.

A speaker and workshop facilitator on end-of-life and survivor issues, Moore recently launched a new magazine, "Pathfinder: A Companion Guide for the Widow/er's Journey," first published digitally in July and in print this month.

Her work as a physical therapist and owner of Shoreline Physical Therapy in East Lyme, as well as the loss of her husband five years ago, came into play in creating the magazine.

"I had a front row seat watching people deal with loss (as a physical therapist) - such as losing their ability to walk. Loss is loss," she says.

"When I was widowed, I found I didn't have enough mentors or role models to help me with long-term planning. Hospice was great, a good start for short-term grief support. But one day you wake up and realize there's a little bounce in your step and think, 'Where did that come from? I haven't felt that in a long time,' and you wonder, what's next?"

Moore says she's always loved writing and finds it a useful form of therapy; she also enjoys photography as a hobby.

After becoming widowed she says she consciously sought out mentors and learned a lot about creating a new life after loss.

"I thought, 'Why reinvent the wheel when I could give people the stories I'm hearing?' Every time you hear a story, you learn something. It inspires you in some way."

And so, the idea of a magazine specifically for widows and widowers was born.

"Since I didn't know anything about publishing, I was mentored by SCORE and found other support through ELBO (East Lyme Business Organization) - groups of small businesses that network. I found my web designer and printer through that."

The magazine offers advice on money, housing, travel, friendship, dating and returning to work, as well as articles on spirituality, art, poetry and starting new hobbies. It even includes stories of famous widowed people in history.

Moore is convinced that there is no other publication like "Pathfinder."

"Unlike every other stage of life, there is nothing for this stage of life," she says. "There are (resources) for getting married, raising kids, going off to college, but nothing for this time."

Although the magazine is being distributed nationally, its regular writers are from the region. Each month, Patricia Ann Chaffee of Old Saybrook writes about a widow with an inspiring story. She also writes about spirituality and expressive arts for healing and does a monthly column on finance.

"It's not about how to invest your money but things like how to budget and travel on a shoestring," Moore says.

Jane Milardo of Niantic, a licensed marriage and family therapist, writes the advice column "Ask Jane," and for the first print issue interviewed Dr. William Petit Jr., whose wife and two daughters were murdered in a home invasion in 2007 in Cheshire.

"Jane writes about family relationships and how they change after the death," Moore explains. "She also writes about substance abuse, how to handle the holidays - any psychological issue."

Rosemary Collins, an East Lyme registered dietician, writes a regular feature on nutrition.

"She writes about food, but not necessarily about what you should eat, but how to live well," Moore says. "She gives some recipes, like chocolate recipes (in this issue) that are healthy."

Lisa Saunders of Mystic, a history interpreter at Mystic Seaport and instructor at New London Adult and Continuing Education, writes the stories on famous widows and widowers in history.

"She also did a phenomenal article in this issue on gambling and how many widows and widowers lose their money gambling," Moore points out.

"Every month I'll have something on common pitfalls (for widowed people to avoid)."

The magazine doesn't target a particular age demographic, Moore stresses, but tries to appeal to anyone who is widowed and to address the different issues people face at different ages.

"There's a blog on the website so people can write in and chat with each other or ask us questions and we'll respond," she says. "I'd eventually love to have conferences and retreats."

Moore also has written a book, "Common Sense: Strategies for Living a Joyful and Meaningful Life after Loss," to be published in the next several months. She says the book focuses on the many practical issues of widowhood, from preparing your house for a storm to choosing and establishing a good relationship with a doctor, to getting back into the workforce or starting your own business.

"I hope to reach everyone who has to go through this and provide the support that they need to live well, despite their disappointment," Moore says.

"I want to give them permission to be happy, inspire them to try new things, protect them from mistakes that others have made. I want to help them to not feel lonely. And I want to connect them with healthy resources."

READ IT

Free sample articles from "Pathfinder: A Companion Guide for the Widow/er's Journey," are listed under each month's "Read Online - Editor's Choice" at www.widowedpathfinder.com

The subscription price for the print publication is $26 for 12 issues plus full access to the online edition. The online edition alone is $12 per year. More information is on the website. Contact Joanne Moore at jmoore@widowedpathfinder.com.

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