[Tioga, N.D. is a rural community struggling with the recent losses of two young people.]
Let’s be honest. We are all a mess – and that is the common ground where we must come together and pick each other up.
Tioga High School Community.
To the friends and family of Trystan and Tanner – to all the teachers and staff members – and to the whole school community: My name is Jeff Yalden. On Thursday, September 21, I am coming to Tioga. I am looking forward to my visit, my friends.
I get it. I am teen mental health expert. I have helped over 100 different communities to move forward after loss. Also – I suffer from mental illness myself. I am diagnosed with major depression, bipolar II and PTSD.
On Thursday, I want to invite you to come to school with an open heart. I understand what you are going through. I understand that many of us are feeling numb. We have questions – and, listen– I don’t want to be insensitive about this at all. But on Thursday, I promise you that my heart is going to be 100 percent with each and every one of you.
I am sorry about your loss. We can’t let this define us. The pain is probably going to be forever. There is no other way of saying it. But I will tell you something that I have come to learn: We are not victims in life. We choose to rise up and be victors. We can’t let this define us.
However, this is going to shape us – just like everything that we go through in life – and on Thursday, I promise you that we are going to laugh, we’re going to spend time in thought. We might even shed a tear or two. That’s OK – because in the end, what we need to do is go through the grieving process – and we need to come to a point where we accept what has happened, and we put this behind us.
Family: I don’t want to be insensitive. Please understand – but neither Trystan or Tanner are walking through the door again, and we need to accept that. And we need to move forward for ourselves. We need to more forward for each other.
Young people: I am honored that I get to be a part of your life, and I promise you – on Thursday, life is going to change.
Parents: I’ll be speaking to the parents at night. I know you have a lot going on, a lot you can be doing and a lot that you have to do. I hope you make time to come out. I am going to talk to you about our teens today and their struggles. We are going to talk about the speed of hurt for young people today. We are going to talk about suicide symptoms, signs – we are going to talk about what our teens are feeling today.
So until we meet on Thursday – I want to invite you to just breathe – and know that it’s going to be OK.
You might say, “Jeff – how do you know?”
My friends, I get it. I’ve been there. And I know for you it’s like, “I don’t want a mental health professional to give me statistics and give me textbook definitions.”
I’m not going to give you textbook definitions. I deal with this every single day. On Thursday, show up with an open heart. This is going to be a day that is going to change your life. I promise you that on Thursday, I will be fully present and engaged. I will be there early in the morning and I will stay as late as I have to. I am going to give you all of my heart. It’s going to be a good day.
Teachers: Thank you for letting me be a part of your school community. I know you are hurting.
Students: I am just honored and looking forward to being a part of your life.
Parents: I know this is hard -and you wish you had the right words to say to your kids. This is probably one of the hardest things our kids will ever go through – and to try to get them to make sense of the loss of two of their classmates – this is why I am coming.
I will see you guys on Thursday.
For more information about Jeff Yalden, click HERE.