Monday, July 9, 2018

Book Review: 'What I Wish I'd Known: Finding Your Way Through the Tunnel of Grief' by Kristi Hugstad

California Author Kristi Hugstad is a grief recovery specialist who writes for Huff Post as well as hosting a radio show, offering public speaking engagements and writing two outstanding books states, ‘I have first-hand experience with clinical depression, substance abuse and suicide. My husband, Bill, completed suicide by running in front of a train in Dana Point where WE lived just 5 short years ago. Because of this life shattering experience, my passion for prevention has emerged. I don’t want anyone to experience the pain and heartbreak I felt after my husband’s suicide. My story may have ended differently if I had recognized the warning signs and risk factors of depression and suicide. But I was too late and I was unaware.’ She has taught Physical and Health education in Minneapolis, served as fitness director, and owns a business – Rooftop Pilates – in Dana Point, California.

Kristi wrote this book WHAT I WISH I’D KNOWN and R U OK? In the same time frame - two books about subjects we too often ignore until we are caught in the midst of them or providing embraces for those afflicted. The two subjects are depression and grief – and the manifold symptoms and permutations of each.

We learn why Kristi wrote this book early on in her Preface: ‘You’ve probably picked up this book because you’ve lost someone you loved very much and are seeking relief; or maybe it’s in your hands because you came across it in a bookstore or at a friend’s house and you’re curious about its contents. Whatever your situation, you’ll discover that What I Wish I’d Known will get you through any kind of grief you’re experiencing. We tend to think of grief as the natural response to death, but grief encompasses so much more. It’s the response to any loss—relationship, job, faith, identity, status, health, your five-year-old daughter’s first tooth, the sale of your childhood home. The list goes on and on. Each of us has attached ourselves to something or somebody, and when you lose that special thing or person, you grieve. Always. You can try to run from it all you want, but it will always find you and tackle you when you’re not looking. This is why I wrote What I Wish I’d Known. It’s my way of helping others deal with their grief head-on because everyone can do this with the right information and tools. Without any guidance, it’s too easy to avoid grief until the day that it slaps you upside down. But why is it so difficult to deal with directly? Many of us were taught as children never to talk about it—to bury our feelings and pretend as if nothing had ever happened. More likely than not, we weren’t given any tools to help us move forward after a loss. Our faith may tell us “everything happens for a reason” and that our loss is all a part of a “greater plan,” but it doesn’t necessarily ease the pain and sadness that the loss leaves behind. I’m sure you’ve heard of the “five stages of grief”: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Unfortunately, grief doesn’t unfold so neatly in stages. The reality is that your grief may, and probably will, feel different. Grief is unpredictable, uncertain, messy, and unsettling.’

Given this insight Kristi writes fluidly and accessibly about her own experience with grief after her husband’s suicide and proceeds to take a positive stance on the therapeutic aspects of her learning experience. In the second part of the book she creates a plan for moving through grief – Sleep, Eat, Move, Do, Breathe, Think, Talk, Write, Trust and Be. The manner in which she explains the importance of each of these steps is completely professional while remaining sensitively personal. Read and absorb, feel comforted - and then act. A very fine and inspiring book form a caring human being who has been there. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, July 18
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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