The Grief Girl
What Matters Most with Paul Dolman - Guest | Kristi Hugstad

What Matters Most with Paul Dolman - Guest | Kristi Hugstad

September 29, 2019

I had the honor of being interviewed by Paul Dolman on his show, "What Matters Most." October is #DepressionAwarenessMonth. I invite you to listen in, hear my story, my mission & through my latest book, "Beneath the Surface", learn the warning signs of depression and the tools to cope.


What a heartbreaking yet inspiring conversation with Kristi Hugstad (find her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram) on the loss of her husband Bill through suicide and her conscious choice to make a beautiful difference in the world around this much too frequent unfolding.  She has a powerful new book, Beneath the Surface: A Teen’s Guide to Reaching Out When You or Your Friend Is in Crisis, that contains the wisdom we could all expand upon within us so that we could be of greater service to those around us.

Kristi Hugstad is the author of Beneath the Surface: A Teen’s Guide to Reaching Out When You or Your Friend Is in Crisis. Ever since her husband completed suicide in 2012, by running in front of a train after years of struggling with clinical depression, Kristi has dedicated her life to helping to abolish the stigma of mental illness and suicide. A certified grief recovery specialist and a grief and loss facilitator for recovering addicts at South Coast Behavioral Health, Kristi frequently speaks at high schools. She is also the host of The Grief Girl podcast and lives in Orange County, California.

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It’s Not Just Anthony Bourdain

It’s Not Just Anthony Bourdain

May 16, 2019


It was an honor to have Scott Sargeant on my show today. I am so proud of him to have the courage to face and share his truth! He'll have a big impact on the fight to abolish the stigma of mental illness. His story is so compelling and has a powerful message of hope! He seemed to have everything going for him and most men would give anything to have been in his shoes before the suicide attempt.... But depression knows no face. It does not discriminate. 

Here is what he had to say about today’s episode:


“I love doing podcast interviews!!
Check out this raw & real conversation today with Kristi Hugstad today delving into my emotional journey and the inner struggles that led to my suicide attempt, and what it took to not only overcome that, but also turn it around and recover from the quadriplegia that resulted from my attempt.
It still feels a little uncomfortable and scary to revisit the extremely intense thoughts, emotions and body sensations from 20 years ago, and it can still be hard to find the words to adequately convey what I went through, but I'm so grateful to still be here and be able to to share my experiences and insights to give others hope, inspiration, and choices I felt like I didn't have.

As I said in the interview, "if there's one thing I could tell that guy that I was at the top of those stairs 20 years ago, it would be: "just go talk to someone." The podcast will be available on iTune, Podbean and my website next week.

Listen and then SHARE! Spread the word to help stop the stigma around Mental Illness. 


Life After Loss - Navigating Grief & Returning to Joy

Life After Loss - Navigating Grief & Returning to Joy

April 24, 2019

Women's Wellness Day Talk - 2019 

Key Takeaways from Todays Talk ... 

Grief is about loss, not death

Grief is a natural response to loss of any kind – not just death. You might mourn the loss of your career when you’re laid off or retire. A divorce may leave you reeling over lost companionship or an abrupt change of lifestyle. Addicts often grieve the drug or substance they give up through recovery. Where there is life, there will always be loss. Diminishing health, financial loss, family estrangement, injury or the death of a pet are losses that can – and should – be grieved. Recognizing and working through that grief is essential in helping you live your best life.

There is no destination

Grief is often described as a “journey,” because it catapults you into unknown territory with unforeseen obstacles and setbacks. But it’s important to remember this is a journey without a single destination. Your grief is as unique as you are; there is no universal process that ends with “getting over it.” Just as love has no end, neither does grief. While the pain of your loss will never disappear, it will evolve and transform. Your journey is the process of determining how this grief now fits into your life, and how it will coexist with joy – because I’m here to tell you it can. Don’t allow yourself – or anyone else – to put your grief on a timeline or expect you to follow a specific pattern. Your journey is just that: yours.

Grief knows no ‘stages’

You’re likely familiar with the concept of grief “stages,” but I’ve learned through training and my own experience that these are myths. Just as there is no singular destination on your journey of grief, there are no predestined routes. However, there are many common responses to grief, and recognizing these in yourself can give you clarity when you no longer recognize yourself. Grief is a roller coaster; it doesn’t follow a linear pattern. It can hit you out of nowhere when you least expect it. Subscribing to the idea that grief can be neatly organized into phases can be discouraging when you experience regression, which is an inevitable part of the journey.

Healing requires mental and physical self-care

Grief is a journey of emotions, but you should never forget the connection between your mind and body. Returning to joy requires self-care, both mentally and physically. Sleep, nutrition and exercise all have an impact on mental wellbeing. This is essential to remember when you’re in the healing process. Neglecting your physical health can exacerbate the pain you feel after a loss, while the pain of loss can cause you to neglect your physical health. The only way to break this cycle and return to joy is to make mental and physical self-care a daily priority.

You will feel joy again

Grief can be a tunnel of darkness. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s difficult to imagine a life where light, laughter and joy are present. That’s when it’s critical to just believe. Tell yourself you can be happy again, even if you don’t feel it today. Eventually, you will. It’s important to remember that returning to joy doesn’t mean banishing your grief. Returning to joy means learning to feel love, pleasure, excitement and happiness despite your grief. Your grief is part of you now, and that’s a beautiful thing, because at the root of grief is one thing: love.

Kickin’ It with Daree - 5 Years later - Where my grief journey is now

Kickin’ It with Daree - 5 Years later - Where my grief journey is now

October 17, 2017

I was so honored to be a guest on the podcast, Kickin' it with Daree Allen last week. A show about lifestyle, culture, life coaching, personal development, faith and fun. Get practical resources and real advice that will inspire you to improve relationships, develop yourself, and handle everyday situations and stressors better than ever.

I was able to share my story, give helping tips and offer hope to those struggling with any kind of loss.

In This Episode…

  • My story (2:21)
  • Recognizing depression and mental illness (15:35)
  • Asking the question, "Are you OK?" (20:51)
  • The problems with the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, about teen suicide (23:04)
  • The stigma of crying in front of people (28:40)
  • The time it takes to grieve and the "get over it" sentiment (31:44)
  • The stages of grief myth (33:24)
  • What Kristi wishes she had known (35:19)
International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day

September 12, 2017


This episode of |THE GREIF GIRL| was recorded on International Overdose Awareness Day 2017 while organizations around the world came together to spread the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable. 

On the show, I had the honor of intervoewing Dr. Lawrence Tucker, the Medical Director of Laguna Treatment Hospital. He is a psychotherapist, diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine.

And CEO Gil Carmona, MSW, LCSW, has over 25 years of experience in behavioral healthcare and is well versed in discussing addiction and treatment as well.

Listen in as we dive into the devastating reality of addiction and the physicality of addiction, the Opioid epidemic, Opioids, fentanyl and its analogs that are prevalent in Orange County, plus ways to get help and the organizations who strive to make a change. 

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction and treatment, visit


13 Reasons Why NOT to Complete Suicide

13 Reasons Why NOT to Complete Suicide

June 5, 2017

My Guests


For this next episode, we are going to discuss the trending Netflix show, '13 Reasons Why'. I am not here to critque the show, but to continue the conversation the show has started. I am joined with Blake Barber, House Supervisior of the CSP (Community Services Program) Laguna Beach Youth Shelter and Juliet Ekinaka, a former youth counselor at the shelter to discuss signs of depression, suicde, risk factors in teens, triggering events and how to prepare parents, educators and friends to be a good lister for when they ask the powerful question, R U OK?

A recap of 13 Reasons Why: A box of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, a 17-year- old student at liberty high school before her suicide details 13 reasons why she completed suicide. It is somewhat like a murder mystery, captivating the viewers attention through the 13th and final episode.

At its core, it exposes what today's teens experience; drug and alcohol use, gender confusion, self- harm, bullying, rape, depression and suicide. It was not easy for me to watch and left me disturbed for several days after watching the final episode. But I do feel 13 reasons why is very important and I am grateful to Netflix for shedding light on a very stigmatized subject.


As mentioned in the podcast, we talk about #13ReasonsWhyNot 

I say these 13 Reasons Why Not to you because I have been on the other side of suicide. I was the one left behind, the one still living with this choice my husband decided.


1. It's a permanent solution to a temporary problem


2. You have depression, which is an illness and treatable


3. Depression is a liar. You wouldn't give someone who lied to you the time of day, so why give a liar your life.


4. It's not your fault. What ever you are going through, it's not your fault.


5. Things can change. What you are feeling isn't permanent. The first step to any change is making the decision to ask for help.


6. You matter. To your family, to the people whose life you have touched.


7. You are loved. It may not feel like so, but when you have depression, it's hard to let any outside affection in, but it's there, a lot of it.


8. There is help. Suicide has affected so many lives, and because so, there are many amazing resources for all ages to get the care and hope they need to heal.


9. You are not alone. The way you feel is your own, but so many also feel the same pain. Knowing you're not alone can help ease the decision to get help.


10. You will feel whole and healthy again. I know this because I have seen it in action. When you choose the path to heal, a new world of possibilities open up for you.


11. Relief is around the corner. No one likes to feel alone. No one likes to feel nothing at all. With help, there is hope for such relief of numbness.


12. Time is on your side. What's great about the choice to heal, is that you can take your time. Heal on your own terms. You are in the ultimate control and that is motivating and powerful.


13.You are incredible. You may have laughed at this, but you are. Unique, real, alive and have the strength to take control and seek the help and hope you deserve.


If you or your teen needs more information, resources or immediate help, please know it’s available! The following toll-free hotlines are available to help 24/7:

Teenline (This is a crisis hotline for teens to talk to other teens): 800-TLC-TEEN

AFSP American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: 

Trevor Lifeline (Crisis line for LGBTQ youth): 866-488-7386

Bullying Hotline: 800-273-8255

National Eating Disorder Association: 800-931-2237

National Alcohol and Drug Abuse Hotline: 877-437-8422

Exploring Grief with Kristi

Exploring Grief with Kristi

May 12, 2017


On our show, we explore all kinds of grief. Where there is love, there is and will be grief. And when you loose something or someone you love, grief comes in and takes over. 

It's been almost 5 years since I lost my husband, Bill, to suicide. And even after, what so many would think is a long time, grief is still there. Popping up uninvited, at random times, sometimes, completley unexpected. 

I wanted to talk about grief and loss, about what I wish I'd known then and even now as I continue through my tunnel of grief. I want to share with you that even though the days pass by, and the years add up, that my grief is still very much alive. 

Beyond The Blues - Drugs, Depression to Attempted Suicide

Beyond The Blues - Drugs, Depression to Attempted Suicide

April 16, 2017

Grief comes in all forms and is triggered by any event of loss; not just death, as we grieve all kinds of losses from relationships, health, career, trust, identity, and addiction.

These podcasts are just one part of my mission. A that mission to help abolish the stigma of mental illness, depression, suicide, and addiction. I was put back behind the microphone to pull back the curtain and help start conversations about topics that no one wants to have.

For the month of March, we focused on teen depression and suicide. Every day, 5,420 teens grades 7 through 12 attempt suicide. Today’s teens have a lot to deal with – from peer pressure to substance abuse to technology addiction, online bullying and gender confusion. 

My guest speaker, Evan, shared his heart wrenching story of his downward spiral of abuse, depression, addiction, to his multiple suicide attempts to where he is now. 

Evan's story begins as young as seven years old, where abuse and alcoholism was some of his youngest memories. Struggling for the love and acceptance from his father, he began his decent into the harsh world of alcohol, prescription drugs to attempted suicide. 

Listen to Evan's story. Feel his pain but know there is hope even in the darkest of times. Evan is here with us, inspiring others at South Coast Behavioral Health to push through even when hope only seems like a distant dream.

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Trauma Intervention Program: Citizens Helping Citizens in Crisis

Trauma Intervention Program: Citizens Helping Citizens in Crisis

August 23, 2016

In this episode, host Kristi Hugstad interviews two integral staff members of TIP (Trauma Intervention Program) Orange County: Community Relations Manager Erin Gardner and Crisis Team Manager Mindy Daffron.


2:00 – Erin explains the mission of TIP, which is to provide citizens help in times of trauma. TIP’s volunteers are citizens who provide "emotional first aid" while the first responders provide life-saving first-aid.

3:20 – How TIP receives a call in the first place: first responders assess the needs of the survivors and call their dispatch, who in turn call the TIP dispatch.

4:00 – Mindy discusses her role as a Crisis Team Manager.

5:08 – Erin and Mindy explain the level of commitment a volunteer makes to TIP. Volunteers work three shifts per month (12 hours per shift). A volunteer chooses his dates based on his availability, and may choose between a day shift or a night shift. Volunteers may not get called on every shift but the readiness time adds up. The ladies explain the differences in day and night shifts, and how TIP is able to offer 100% coverage (they have never missed a call). "No call is too small," Erin says. Suffering and grief take many forms, and TIP would rather be present than not.

7:42 – TIP covers all of Orange County. They are divided into two areas (north and south), and they pride themselves on being there within 20 minutes. The organization is run in an almost military-style even though they are managed almost entirely by volunteers.

10:05 – Kristi asks, how does TIP find volunteers? What kind of person is attracted to this kind of work?

11:25 – TIP OC has 100 volunteers and was established in 1995, and TIP nationally was founded in San Diego in 1985. There are 16 TIP affiliates.

12:40 – The ladies go into detail about TIP training — including number of training hours, teaching volunteers to reframe the way they provide support to someone, etc. (Asking “how are you” is not something you want to ask to someone who’s stricken with grief or shock. It can indirectly offend someone. Instead, ask “can you tell me what happened.”)

19:08 – TIP also offers a training program for teen volunteers.

23:12 – The ladies discuss the origin of TIP thanks to founder Wayne Fortin

25:24 – Kristi asks what care is offered to volunteers and learns that there is indeed a safety net. Volunteers must talk to their dispatcher after a call, and then a call is scheduled with a debriefer a few days later. Volunteers may also volunteer to be dispatchers and debriefers.

29:00 – Volunteers are always on call with another volunteer. There might be more volunteers depending on the size of the call, but at the very least there is always one pair of volunteers per call so that they may offer more help to more people. They are even trained on mass casualties.

31:28 – The protocol for follow-up calls is one call because the survivors need to rely on their own support system and community.

32:00 – Erin and Mindy give examples of calls they’ve experienced, and explain the "art of hanging around."

37:37 – Kristi asks how a call begins when a volunteers shows up at the scene.

40:15 – The amount of suicide that TIP volunteers encounter is staggering.

40:55 – The ladies explain what a hospital situation is like for a TIP volunteer. They often arrive before family members have even arrived.

42:00 – More details are provided on the next training for both adult and teen volunteers.

46:46 – Sound engineer Paul Robert asks, What is the most important tip for an ordinary citizen who happens to be at the scene of a traumatic event? The ladies respond that "just being there is 90% of what we do." There is no magic – there’s nothing to say to fix it, so just being there is enough.

49:25 – What has grief taught Erin and Mindy? Erin says grief has taught her patience and understanding. Mindy says that she has learned that you have to experience pain in order to heal. People try to stop that pain with different things but you can’t heal unless you go through that.

To learn more about TIP or to make a donation, visit or call 714-314-0744.

Grief from the Eyes of a Reporter - A Conversation with Greg Hardesty

Grief from the Eyes of a Reporter - A Conversation with Greg Hardesty

July 26, 2016

Host Kristi Hugstad talks to reporter Greg Hardesty and learns just how much finesse and emotional intelligence are required to get to the heart of the most tragic stories.


1:38 – Meet Greg Hardesty, who's covered some of Orange County's most heartbreaking stories in his three decades of journalism (including 17 years as a reporter at the Orange County Register and six years of copyediting and writing in Japan). Greg is now a writer and editor at Cornerstone Communication's Behind the Badge OC — an online news site that covers law enforcement.

6:16 – Greg discusses his hobby of "ultra marathoning," which is running any distance that exceeds a typical 26.2 mile marathon. He was also an adjunct faculty member of California State University Fullerton and California State University Long Beach, where he taught feature writing.

10:13 – Kristi recounts the first time she met Greg when he covered the story about the suicide of her husband Bill. They discuss his ability to start conversations with people who have suffered horrific losses: by being a human first, and a reporter second. He explains why he wrote Kristi's husband's story.

13:37 – Greg talks about the impact of losing two friends in his early twenties, how it influenced his writing career (he originally focused on business stories with an emphasis on the surfing industry), and how he experienced grief.

16:50 – Kristi and Greg examine how they deal with grief. Greg explains the intention behind his writing, and how he writes to honor the lives of those who have died and to comfort their families — never to sensationalize their stories to entertain the public.

20:25 – Greg discusses the most difficult and memorable stories he's written — including one about a dying teenager who planned her own funeral, and another about the murder of Samantha Runion.

31:30 – Sound Engineer Paul Roberts asks Greg how he approaches victims to obtain the information needed to write their stories.

33:30 – Greg talks about TIP (Trauma Intervention Program), which he joined last year as a volunteer. TIP is a non-profit used by police, fire, and hospitals to provide "emotional first aid" in the hours right after a tragedy. There are approximately100 volunteers in Orange County who sign up for three 12-hour shifts per month (approximately 500 hours annually).

36:23 – Greg describes one of the most poignant calls he has ever received, which was a "NODA" call ("No One Dies Alone") for a 7-year-old who lay dying alone. TIP staffed volunteers 24/7 to be by her bedside for six days. "We sent her off with love — we pampered her and told her how much we loved her," Greg says.

37:45 – Greg explains what TIP training entails. (The next training is in September. Click here for more details.)

39:32 – Greg shares the story of the time he was flown to New York twice to appear on the talk show circuit, but for very different reasons: the first was for his story about Jaycee Dugard, and the second was about a piece he wrote regarding his then-teenaged daughter's excessive texting (14,528 texts in one month!).

42:00 – Greg shares what grief has taught him: to slow down and live in the moment. He ties his response to running a marathon: "You cannot finish a fifty mile race if you're at mile 22 thinking about, 'Oh, I have 28 more to go!'"

43:40 – Greg and Kristi share their thoughts on the concept of "closure."

Questions for Greg Hardesty? Contact him at ghardesty[at] and read his articles at

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