“Yesterday someone, after reading something I wrote for The Shriver Report, said, “You’re over Roy’s death, right?” The question took me by surprise and at first, I was sort of offended. Then I realized that in my writing, no one sees the struggle. They read it online and it looks polished. The reader never sees me put my pen down, and walk away from my table with tears running down my face. It isn’t easy. I’m not sure I will ever be over Roy’s death, but I’m learning to live with it, and there’s a difference.” – Kristin Meekhof
Kristin Meekhof is a writer, runner, activist, and widow bringing awareness to life after loss and dealing with grief. Born in South Korea and left on the street, she found a new family in the arms of James Vande Vusse. But just a few weeks before she turned 5, he died due to cancer. Fast forward 28 years – in 2007, Kristin's husband of four years (a teacher and a veteran) – was diagnosed with advanced adrenal cancer. He died approximately eight weeks after.
I was able to get a word with Meekhof so she can share with us how she was able to move on after her husband's untimely death, and how her healing after grief inspires other widows who had a hard time getting over the demise of their loved ones.
Miss Millennia Magazine: Explain a little about yourself and what you do.
Kristin Meekhof: I'm a licensed master's social worker, so that is my ‘day job', and I do freelance writing in my spare time.
M3: Talk a little about your book.
KM: I spent 3.5 years interviewing widows from all different backgrounds. I spoke to them about how they coped. In some cases, I traveled to other cities to meet them in person. I was in Boston, Whitefish (Montana), New York City, Chicago.
I believe that we can learn from each other and grief is very isolating. It is an intensely personal and lonely experience. I thought that if another widow could see herself in one of the stories in my book that perhaps she would feel less alone.
I blended their narratives together along with practical advice from experts. I'm deeply honored to have cover blurbs from my dear friend Deepak Chopra, MD and Maria Shriver. Recently, Katie Couric also lent her support.
M3: What was the hardest part about losing your husband?
KM: He was my best friend, so I lost a deeply rewarding friendship and a partner in marriage.
M3: How did you overcome your grief?
KM: I used prayer, meditation, yoga, running, reading, writing (and not in any particular order that I listed). I also did some solo travel.
M3: What has inspired you to continue growing and working harder for your goals?
KM: I found the experience of talking with other widows and researching grief/loss a deeply rewarding experience. The widows were very generous with their time and strongly encouraged me to move forward with the book. It was a 3.5-year process.
M3: How do you deal with death during a time such as the holidays?
KM: I still visit the cemetery. My father died in 1979, and I was nearly five so this Christmas day I was at his grave as well as my late husbands. I wasn't there long, but I do find peace in going there. I also donate to a charity in each of their memories.
M3: What was it like connected with all those other widows while writing your book?
KM: I found healing and courage in their stories. Together my co-author, psychologist James Windell and I interviewed over 100 widows. I became friends with some of the widows and still keep in touch with them.
M3: Do you think it is important for women to have a strong bond with other women?
KM: Yes, when women come together this can be a very powerful experience. I felt this when I was at the Parliament of World Religions in Salt Lake City this fall. I was a panelist but I was able to participate in many of the plenaries (that focused on women), and women from all over the globe gathered to support and nurture each other. It was very special.
M3: What advice would you give to other women who have recently lost their spouse?
KM: There is no finish line for grief. Take your time and reach out for professional help if necessary. There is no shame in seeking out therapy. Grief is very complicated and sometimes a licensed therapist can provide insight to help you navigate the way.
To learn more about Kristin, visit her blog and follow her on her social media sites below:
Are you or someone you know a great candidate for the #LikeaGirl Interview series? Comment below or email me at Jasmine.Watts@MissMillMag.com.