The author’s legacy lives on in a joint book about the loss
Marti Benedetti’s first book, Finding Love After Loss: A Relationship Roadmap for Widows, co-authored by Mary A. Dempsey, was published late last month.
Its start was bittersweet. The book was inspired by a blog Benedetti started writing after the death of her husband Tom Andrew.
In March, shortly after approving the cover and proofreading the pages, the 66-year-old Grosse Pointe Farms resident died of breast cancer.
The book was an affair of the heart for the authors, who mostly wrote it before COVID-19 and then found a publisher during the pandemic.
“What happens to people who write for a living is they use writing to clarify what they are going through,” said Dempsey. “… A few years after her husband’s death, she thought it was possible to have a relationship again.”
The online research proved unsuccessful for Benedetti, who was in her mid-50s and knew what it was like
The dating scene had changed during their marriage. Her blog “LifeAfterWidowhood” describes her efforts, experiences, frustrations and triumphs.
Dempsey, who is married to a widower, said the blog resonated with her. The long-time friends who had met through their mutual friend Judy Putnam – all three journalists – began to talk about the possibility of writing a book together.
“This was really a collaboration between Marti and Mary, their different roles in dating,” Putnam said. âMartis was after her husband’s death. She wanted to go back to the dating world. There were bumps along the way; her blog was completely honest and true to her nature. And Mary was with a widower. … They came together as the perfect complement with two different perspectives. “
“Because the blog inspired the book, we worked things out of the blog,” Dempsey said. âThe chapters contain many widow stories; We interviewed many dozen widows. “
The book started with the idea that it would be a guide for widows looking to seek romance again, but the authors soon realized that there was more about widowhood that affects relationships. The chapters contain information about widow health, finances, relationships, matchmaking, and more. In addition, parts of Benedetti’s blog appear in their original state and include âsnapshots from Marti’s life as a widowâ on the website.
âMarti’s blog was left untreated; as they are in the book, they originally appeared, âsaid Dempsey. âWhen you write with two people, you create a third voice. Her actual voice – her interesting, clever, snappy perspective on things – comes through. “
âMarti was a really good storyteller,â Putnam agreed. âShe was stubborn and very open. She didn’t hold back. That was good for the most part. … She was adventurous and lived her life to the fullest. “
Dempsey said the friends had been warned not to collaborate on a book – that doing so could lead to a rift. That warning couldn’t have been further from the truth, she added.
“We really had a good time,” she said, describing their Thursday morning telephone meetings. They created an outline and divided the writing of the chapters between the two of them. As soon as a draft was completed, they exchanged what had been written and added to each other’s material.
âEach chapter went through many iterations,â Dempsey said, noting that Benedetti got sick not long after starting work on the book, âbut we enjoyed it. Marti had a very strong work ethic. Working with her has kept me honest. “
“As Marti got sicker, they kept their calls going every Thursday morning,” Putnam said. âI know that was helpful to Marti. She was a widow who had cancer. Then came the pandemic. The isolation she was exposed to is pretty difficult to imagine. “
During their research, the couple discovered a wealth of information – even some surprises.
Dempsey said she was surprised
learn how widows are reshaping their lives; she assumed that those who had long been married would look for similar relationships.
“That’s not the case,” she said. âYou want something else. Widows carve these unorthodox avenues to romance. Some are married and do not live together or live together and are not married. … they are carving new models of how these relationships can be forged.
“What I find inspiring is that these are resilient women who are rebuilding their lives in interesting ways,” she added. “And they do it without taking any prisoners.”
What surprised Benedetti, Dempsey added, was the sheer number of widows and widowers in the United States – more than 11 million. Another 700,000 women join the group every year.
“If you took all of the widows in the US now, you’d have a New York City and a half,” she said.
While Finding Love After Loss was for widows, Dempsey said she received feedback from non-widows who said the book inspired them to look at their relationships in a different way. She said it would also be good read for people dating widows or widowers because, âThey are a different group with different experiences from the rest of us. Widows and widowers carry their grief forever. What does it mean when you are in a relationship with them? It’s a different dynamic. “
Writing the book while battling Stage 4 cancer was evidence of Benedetti’s feisty nature, Putnam said. Days before her death, Benedetti dictated the last essay in the book.
But she was also just as fun-loving as her husband, who loved to joke.
“They always had a lot of fun,” said Putnam. âThey had very fun parties; they would fill their house with people. It is so tragic that they both died so young. “
Benedetti was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. Before she died, she was able to see her two children – Nick Andrew and Molly McCarthy – marry. She also greeted a granddaughter, Edie.
“Finding Love After Loss” is available as a hardcover and as an eBook. It can be found online at bookshop.org, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, politik-prosa.com and powells.com. It can also be ordered in the Pages Bookshop at Pages bkshop.com
“I think it’s something that will help people go down a pretty difficult path,” Putnam said. âWhen I see some of my friends, including Marti, it takes courage to get out and start dating again. I think this book will be helpful.
âI’m glad she has this legacy. She worked hard all of her life. She was a great writer, a great storyteller. It’s sad and tragic that she couldn’t be here, but it’s wonderful that her work is so relevant and lives on. “