Our guest this past Tuesday was The Grief Girl herself, Kristi Hugstad. What a delight to visit with her again. Her book is Beneath the Surface: A Teens Guide to Reaching Out When You, or a Friend is in Crisis.
Seven years ago, Kristi’s husband died by suicide.
“I had a really hard time processing that. I knew I could either be a victim of my circumstances, or I can take this pain and figure out how to use it to help other people.”Kristi Hugstad
Kristi helps many people through feelings of grief and unhappiness, including middle school students.
“If we’re going to stop suicide from happening, we need to educate our youth about mental health…they are grieving the loss of hopes and dreams as their proms, graduations, and award ceremonies are being cancelled.”Kristi Hugstad
Kristi’s advice about how to connect with our teenage children during this pandemic (or any time):
- Don’t force conversations. Ask “how are you handling this?”
- Observe changes in patterns and/or behavior
- Don’t mete out judgement or put them on the spot
- Don’t minimize their emotion
- Validate that what they’re feeling is real
“The best tool you can give someone right now is to listen. Let them speak, and don’t try to fix it.”Kristi Hugstad
Kristi suggests there are signs to look for if you suspect someone you love is becoming depressed:
- Changes in behavior
- One-word (or grunts) answers
- Not showering, or ignoring self-hygiene
- Isolation, and/or no longer doing what they once enjoyed
- Becoming someone you no longer recognize
During this pandemic we are all grieving structure, routine, social connection, purpose, and self-worth. Your self-care will be modeled by your children.
Kristi suggests the following tools to help you and your family get through your grief journey:
- Play games the kids are interested in
- Take care of yourself first and be in a strong place to help others
- Ask kids to teach you how to do something (like play a video game)
“Now is the time to reach out and reconnect with the people you’ve been meaning to connect with. I feel best when I get outside myself and help other people. I let go of the things I can’t control.”Kristi Hugstad