Such a simple sentence…yet complex and filled with incredible pain.
My sister called me one morning in 2010 to ask how I was doing.
“Grief Bites” is all I could say through my tears.
Little did I realize how such a little sentence would transform my grief.
That one random phone call, one question, and those 2 little words would eventually develop into 2 published grief books, a local grief organization, a grief ministry that would encourage & give hope to people through 5 church campuses, as well as 3 Bible Reading Plans on YouVersion that offer encouragement to millions of people.
The morning my sister called me in 2010, I was in the middle of experiencing a lot of grief. I was sick of grief…and sick of life.
In the 3 years leading up to that phone call:
- my son had several consultations and surgeries for tumors
- 3 of my son’s good friends died
- my grandmother died
- 2 family members died on the same day
- my marriage crumbled to the point of divorce
- I had a cancer scare that required 2 surgeries
- my sister’s fiancé died suddenly (this was her 2nd fiancé to pass away..her 1st fiancé died a few weeks before our other sister’s death)
- we lost our entire retirement savings due to a person’s foolish decisions
- many key relationships I dearly loved deeply changed (funny how grief does that)
- my son’s father died
- I was diagnosed with a lifelong autoimmune illness
I felt incredibly defeated and depressed.
To go through several deaths, my son’s illness, my illness, heartbreaking marriage issues, relationship losses & changes, among other losses within 3 years was very challenging…but I knew I wanted good to come out of it. I wasn’t about to allow life or grief to defeat me, and I wasn’t going to sit down and remain a depressed mess. I had already done that when my sister died and that wasn’t going to be my reality again.
It was almost a “saving grace” that I had previously been through grief when I was younger. Grief had been second nature in my life pretty much since I was a child.
While growing up:
- my dad was killed by a drunk driver
- my favorite grandmother (who lived with us for awhile) died a few years later
- I lost my grandparents (and later 2 uncles and an aunt) to cancer
- a tragic circumstance happened when I was 12 & I was hospitalized in ICU where I almost died
- my boyfriend died in a car accident while in high school
- one of my best friends died…then a few weeks later…
- I saw my 22 year old sister die after only being sick for 3 weeks
All of this before I was 20 years old…so I knew what grief could do. I understood the heartbreaking days and nights, as well as how difficult it could be to get through.
BUT 2010 was different. I didn’t want to just “get through” my grief. I was desperate to understand. I didn’t want to just be mad at God and life…I actually needed to deeply & heart-wrenchingly question God so I could come to peace with Him and find a new way of life that made sense.
Majority of the grief experiences we go through will never make sense…but I found that good can come out of any circumstance if you allow life…and yes, even grief…to teach you lessons. They are not fun lessons…but they do have value.
And eventually I learned, ironically through my grief, that God IS good. He healed my heart from major grief and heartache.
The reason I share my grief is not to solicit sympathy or pity. Absolutely not. It was through everything I went through that I found my purpose in life: I get the privilege of helping hundreds of people through their grief so they are able to live better lives.
So why blog about it? Why talk about grief? Because grief has a huge need to be more commonly talked about so that everyone can understand how to help those in grief.
And because grief doesn’t end on the day of the funeral…in fact, grief never goes away. Unfortunately, grief velcroes itself to your heart. It’s. there. for. life. And the greater the love, the greater the grief. Grief typically doesn’t stay as strong as it is in the first few years…but it lingers and can come back full strength at the oddest times.
Some grief experiences are minor, while other grief experiences are major. There is hope for major grief…but it takes a lot of self work and grief recovery to get to that point.
I also talk about grief because there is a great need for grievers to share their experiences to help others who are going through grief. It is also helpful for grievers to help others who have never been through grief to understand.
This blog is for anyone who has been through grief or loss…anyone who has been through a sleepless night…anyone who has had a broken heart and still wants to live the best life they possibly can live in spite of any circumstance they face.
I hope something I write encourages someone. I hope it allows someone to obtain the hope they need to
move on press forward in spite of the heartbreak they have been through.
Notice that I drew a line through “move on” because anyone who has been through deep grief knows how frustrating that phrase can be.
I say “press forward” because if you are going through intense grief, it has to be a personal choice to press forward with everything you’ve got. I am NOT suggesting forgetting about your treasured loved one(s). In fact, I am a HUGE advocate of honoring a loved one’s memory… I’ll write more about that in the days to come.
By pressing forward after you have thoroughly grieved, you’ll prevent additional loss, guilt, and regrets from entering your life. If you stay still or stagnant in your grief, or ignore it, more loss develops…and then you will have so much more to deal with later on…and grief will have damaged your life further than you wanted it to.
Don’t allow grief to choose for you how you are going to live the remainder of your life. Grief does not deserve to make that decision for you. The only thing you should allow grief to do is teach you lessons on life…and the lessons are certainly there.
Choose TODAY to thoroughly go through your grief so that you are truly able to create the life you want to live in the years to come. Pressing forward allows you to grab hold of it though. It will NOT be easy. There is no such thing as “neatly” grieving or one-size-fits-all-cookie-cutter-style grieving…there are no rainbows, unicorns, or cotton candy in grief recovery…nope, it is messy. It will most likely be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do…but one day you’ll look back and be so very grateful you worked through your grief and embraced it.
Life is too short to not live to the fullest every single day. Life is too good to not find joy in it…especially the “little things” in life. You only get one life…and you never get time back. Redeem the time and enjoy every moment life has to offer you as much as you can…in time…when you are able to.
Life is a canvas so throw all the paint on it you can so one day you will have the ability to look at the amazing picture you created in spite of heartache & grief.
That is the very best way to get back at grief…to get your breath back after grief & life have knocked it out of you.
It will take time and you will know when your heart is ready.
Grief bites…but we ALL have the power within us to bite back.
©2014 by Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.
❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!❤️
For more encouragement:
Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com
Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief
Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617
FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net