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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: A Widow's Grief

The author is pictured holding a coffee cup
Brooke Collier
Kristin Meekhof
Kristin Meekhof

When Kristin Meekhof lost her husband Roy to a rare form of cancer, she was struck by all that suddenly fell on her shoulders, not the least of which was the weight of grief. She was only 33 years old. How should she embrace this change in her life and her understanding of her own identity? How should she navigate the legal system with wills, taxes, and estate settlements, and plan for the future? The 1997 Kalamazoo College graduate partnered with psychotherapist James Windell to write A Widow’s Guide to Healing: Gentle Support and Advice for the First 5 Years (Sourcebooks, 2015). She has since been featured on CNN, the Today Show, Katie Couric Media, the Huffington Post, and many other media outlets to talk about the challenges of widowhood.

A conversation with Kristin Meekhof

After her husband Roy died, Meekhof says, “I read everything I could about grief and loss. I was curious how people would learn to cope in a healthy way. I read things in medical journals about broken heart syndrome, in People magazine about siblings coping with loss, and I was really searching for stories about women and how they cope with loss.”

Kristin Meekhof
The cover of "A Widow's Guide to Healing"

Not finding much outside of memoirs and biographies, Meekhof decided to write a book of her own by gathering stories during travels.

“I know that we (women) connect best with stories, through the power of the narrative,” she says. “It helps us feel less alone.”

Meekhof traveled the world gathering these stories. As her collection grew, she recognized themes of gratitude and resilience as powerful coping tools. But her book is more than narratives. She includes also practical advice on navigating the legal system, how to solo parent, developing a game plan for the future, and dealing with the guilt of the one left behind wondering, “Could I have done anything different to save my spouse?”

Meekhof graduated from Kalamazoo College with a BA in psychology. She received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan and has more than 20 years of clinical experience. A Korean-American adoptee, she was left on the streets of Korea as an infant. She came to the US in 1974 and became a naturalized citizen. She is a life coach with clients throughout the United States. As a confidential advisor, she privately works with some of the most influential people in media and politics.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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