In Print (Alumni Publications)

Thanksgiving: As Close to Grace as I Dare Venture: A Collection of Incidental Verse

by David Kessler ’70

Since early colonial days, North American communities have stopped for days of prayer and thanksgiving. Grateful for mercies received and sobered by harrowing conflicts, people have paused for a day to reflect upon life’s bounties and tragedies. In its current incarnation, however, it is sometimes a shallow splurge of food and football. Only vestiges of this initial community tradition of thoughtful reflection can sometimes be found. David Kessler ’70 has compiled (At last! And we’re happy for it!) his efforts to revive the tradition of thoughtful reflection and contemplation of our role and responsibilities in today’s troubling and often violent world. The history major wrote these pieces year by year over the decades, and each “grace” speaks to a moment in our nation’s passage through many elections, crises, disasters, and even triumphs. High moral purpose is balanced by a spirit of playfulness and an appreciation of the myriad beauties of our planet and universe. “Most classmates and close friends are aware that I compose an annual Thanksgiving Grace,” David wrote. “Thanks to the good offices and hard work of my wife Nancy Mennel, this volume of the collected verse dating back to 1984 has now been published.

“Having been educated with the idea that ’gracious living’ was a desideratum and indeed the ’end’ of learning, I am only slightly surprised to have found myself wrapped up in the Grace business on a lifelong basis. It does seem especially puzzling, considering my Jewish/Humanist upbringing! But as a ceaseless Melville fan, I find myself perpetually chasing after mystery and meaning and I suspect there is plenty of that for all of us, whatever our beliefs, to ponder. Just what does that famous motto mean for us anyway? Wasn’t sure then, still not sure now. Oh well, I hope in any event that readers will find the collected verse evocative.”


A Widow’s Guide to Healing: Gentle Support and Advice for the First Five Years

by Kristin Meekhof ’98

Kristin was 33 years old when her husband of four years died of advanced adrenal cancer, just eight weeks after he was diagnosed.

Kristin soon realized what most widows come to find—at the very moment you are stripped of your life partner and left numb and grieving, you must make crucial decisions that will affect the rest of your life. Finances, family alliances, estates, legal matters, sudden single parenthood, career changes—widows are in no mental state to grapple with these challenges and yet they must. They need a blueprint that spells out exactly what to do. Kristin’s book takes takes those who have lost their spouse through the practical challenges of widowhood while providing comfort and advice from more than 100 other widows, ages 25 to 80, who were interviewed by Meekhof and her coauthor James Windell. Features include coping with the first few weeks, the range and nature of emotions, matters of law and legal exigencies, functioning as a solo parent, financial concerns, and career guidance.

A Widow’s Guide to Healing highlights a sisterhood of women from a wide range of backgrounds who reassure other widows they are not alone and they can reclaim something they thought might be lost forever: hope.

“This is a very valuable and practical guide for any woman who has lost her husband to an untimely death,” wrote Deepak Chopra.

“I’m proud of Kristin Meekhof,” wrote Maria Shriver. “[She] has written this inspiring and insightful book to help guide widows through their grief. This book is by an Architect of Change, for all of us who must deal with grief.”

Kristin earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at K and completed the Master in Social Work program at the University of Michigan. She works as a clinical social worker and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post,, Women That Soar, and other media outlets.

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