Archives

The Challenge of Unspoken or Hidden Grief

Some of the most difficult grief experiences to heal from are those that are unspoken.

The reason unspoken grief experiences are so difficult to heal from, is because of the nature of the grief – and the choice to isolate oneself.

As I was helping an anonymous young lady on an online grief forum last week, my heart sure did go out to her. She – unknown to her parents, family, church family, and friends – had gotten pregnant and miscarried her first child 8 weeks into the pregnancy. Fearing judgment, she didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone except for the father of her child. For three years, she’s walked the road of grief all on her own. 

Isolated. Heartbroken. Alone.

With unspoken grief, some grief events have happened recently, while some happened decades ago.

Some may have believed that time would heal their wounds, only to find that time hasn’t healed anything.

There are many grief experiences that are “unspoken” or “unknown”…experiences someone may not feel comfortable sharing with others:

  • Unplanned pregnancies that end in miscarriage, secret adoptions, or abortion
  • A sexual assault 
  • Medical diagnosis such as HIV
  • Mental health diagnosis 
  • Adultery
  • Family or marital issues
  • Abuse
  • Conflict with adult children or other family members
  • Addictions
  • Mistreatment of others or conflict that you never had the chance to make right
  • Church conflict/church abuse
  • Suicide issues that remaining loved ones have to go through
  • Suicide attempt survivors

There are many life challenges people go through. With unspoken grief, they’re just not at a place they feel comfortable sharing with others the tremendous heartache they’ve been through. 

Unspoken grief presents a big challenge for the person going through it: if they keep their grief concealed, they may never find the help or healing their heart needs.

So how do you heal from unspoken grief experiences?

Please realize God never intended for us to walk through grief alone. Community, as well as the many resources available, are very powerful gifts when going through heartache, challenges, and grief.

There are many confidential options for finding help and healing when going through an unspoken grief experience:

  • Seek out confidential help with a trusted pastor, grief counselor, or therapist
  • Find encouragement through a local grief group (GriefShare, The Compassionate Friends, local funeral homes who offer grief seminars, Grief Bites conferences, etc.). Many grievers do not realize their grief situations can remain completely anonymous at these meetings, conferences, and seminars. Outside of introducing yourself, you don’t even have to talk if you don’t wish.
  • Utilize online grief resources (blogs, YouVersion’s grief related reading plans, grief related Facebook pages, GriefShare daily emails, The Compassionate Friends private groups, Grief Bites blog, etc.)
  • Talk to a trusted family member or friend…keyword: trusted. When choosing who to confide in, always realize that two listening ears are also attached to a talking mouth – meaning, they can share what you confide in them, so be very selective in who you choose to trust!
  • Go to your local bookstore or favorite online bookseller and purchase books on grief. 
  • The best place to go with your broken heart is to God. He is always there 24/7, He cares deeply for you, and He has the power to heal your heart and spirit.

If you are going through an unspoken grief experience, please know there is hope. You can find relief and healing. Seek out the help you need today so your heart has the opportunity to truly and fully heal.

May God bless and encourage your heart!

Gratitude & blessings,
Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

⭐️For more encouragement:⭐️

❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️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 

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️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

“Ugh…Here She Comes Again..” 

“Ugh…here she comes again..”

As I was talking to an acquaintance at church, she interrupted our conversation by rolling her eyes and warning me about the brown haired lady walking towards us.

I didn’t know either woman particularly well; just that we were all in the same Sunday School class. We talked at class parties and get-togethers but I never went anywhere with them individually or talked with either on the phone.

The brown haired lady came up and was friendly. As she chatted about her weekend and her kids, I was trying to figure out what the other blonde lady had against her. The brown haired lady wasn’t mean-spirited…she wasn’t rude…she didn’t smell bad…she wasn’t snobby. I thought she was nice. I couldn’t figure out the disdain.

As the brown haired lady walked away, the blonde one replied, “Sorry…she just rubs me the wrong way. She’s so needy!”

A few weeks later, our Sunday School class had a ladies spa day at our leader’s home. I quietly heard the blonde haired lady and her friend talking negatively again.

I felt a lot of emotions surface. Disappointment, primarily, because I deeply believe home and church are two places everybody should feel loved, cared about, encouraged, and valued. Everybody should fit in. I don’t like feeling conflict among friends at church…and we’re all going to live in the same Heaven, so harmony and kindness should be strong prerequisites.

I felt sadness for the brown haired lady. How terrible to have someone dislike you just because life left you filled with heartache, grief, or a deep need for validation. I wanted so badly to tell the brown haired lady to quit wasting her time trying to get that other blonde woman and her friends to like her. Sadly, they had already made up their minds and “marked” her. She could pay for an all-inclusive vacation for a girls trip, and they still wouldn’t like her. 

I decided I was going to invite the brown haired lady out for coffee.

As I got to know the brown haired lady, I found out she deeply struggled with self esteem. I could tell she desperately needed friends and needed someone to care. She had some baggage that she didn’t know how to process, so it totally did make her appear needy.

But aren’t we all needy? Don’t we all call our mom…spouse…sibling(s)…friends…or other family members…when we need to cry or vent? 

Haven’t we all had a family member, coworker, “friend,” or acquaintance who hasn’t fully realized our value, or who is ungrateful, or makes us feel less than our God-given worth?

And don’t we all have baggage? Either because we foolishly packed it in “life’s” suitcase on our own, or because someone dumped issues in our bag from their wrong or selfish choices?

We are all alike…and we each have been taught – or learned on our own – coping skills or resolutions to life’s issues. Some positive; some negative.

This scenario took place years ago, yet I never forgot it.

It has served as a reminder to be kind to others…to show compassion…to take the time to care…to not be a snob…to do my best to look at others with the eyes of Christ.

Jesus didn’t gravitate towards the cool people – the people who had it “all together.” He purposely chose to look for people He could love back to life. He didn’t see neediness…He simply saw needs to be met.

I challenge everybody to think about the people in your life…all of them.

How about we each make the commitment to reject exclusivity…and instead see each person’s exclusive value?

Let’s get painfully honest and real: who’s the last person who walked towards you and you thought, “Ugh…here she/he comes again..” 

Next time you see them, consider thinking, “Here comes a valuable masterpiece straight from God who I get the privilege of being kind to…and possibly get to help love back to life..”

Who can you say a kind word to this week and who can you offer encouragement to? 

Everybody has great treasure inside of them. Some have had so much mud thrown at them in life that their baggage became heavy, covering the true heart God planted inside them. Kindness (and compassion) is the antidote that helps wash the mud away…so their true heart can fully bloom.

Choose to see treasure in everyone you meet. It’s there.

We each are exclusively handcrafted by God Himself. We each have been intricately designed with unique talents, skills, personalities, and purpose.

Choose to be the kind of person who sees – and brings out – the good in everyone you meet. 

Romans 12:3, “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.”

Malachi 2:10, “Don’t all of us have one Father? Didn’t one God create us? Why then do we act treacherously against one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?”

Romans 12:10, Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

⭐️For more encouragement:

❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️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 

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️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

Bringing Your Hard Questions To God: An Extra Crispy Collision 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately.

A lot about: Life. Relationships. God. Church. Family. Grief. Helping others through grief. Illness. The FANTASTIC people you meet in life. The not-so-great people you’ve had the displeasure of knowing. Healing that has taken place. Raw wounds that scab over, yet somehow re-open. What a great gift life is — actually, what a treasure each and every day truly is.

Lots and lots of thoughts…both good and bad.

I’m a pretty deep person by nature. My husband jokingly says while some people tend to be kiddie pools or swimming pools, I’m lucky enough to be a large, deep ocean.

But those who are “oceans” know that it doesn’t always feel so lucky. 

When you have depth and many life experiences, you can see, discern, and perceive things around you..and that’s not always a fun thing. You can quickly “know” a person’s character and motives…sometimes without them saying a single word. You have an incredible God-blessed ability to help others — and feel an empathy that allows you to absorb others heartache so you can truly help them find healing and wholeness. 

And people who are oceans think a lot more than most realize. When you’re often around grief and heartache, helping the grief community day in and day out, you truly have times where you don’t just think about things…you carry a lot of your clients pain and questions, too.

Questions such as: why do children die?…why do people put their precious spouses through so much agonizing heartache due to adultery?…why do people have to get sick?…how do family and friends hurt, backstab, reject, abandon, or betray those closest to them—and sometimes not even care?…how do some pastors and church people cause intense pain then not even care about those they’ve hurt, ran off, rejected, or offended?…why is there so much pain, chaos, and heartache in the world?

Pretty much, you think about and question every scenario you see people you help go through.

And then you wrestle with God with questions you may have.

And there you go…you have an extra crispy collision.

For the record, I grew up in a conservative church. You weren’t really taught much about wrestling with God or asking tough questions because to question God was considered Extra Crispy. I think every Baptist has heard sermons on how Jacob wrestled with God, but I would have loved to have been taught how to bring my questions to God without feeling like an extra crispy heathen.

Definition of Extra Crispy: an undesirable activity, thought, feeling, or action that others believe can send you straight to hell to fry for life.

Growing up, extra crispy could have been my middle name. Ashamedly, I was my mother’s worst child. I questioned everything, and wanted to experience life so I’d know what I personally thought or believed. For myself. On.my.own. All by myself.

Regrettably, rebellious.

Yep…Extra Crispy.

Majority of it stemmed from a place of deep hurt…yet I’m extremely grateful for the harsh lessons I learned from my “extra crispy” days long ago. 

When God turned my life around, the same closed fist that shook at Him demanding answers…was turned into a soft open outstretched hand that desperately sought Him for life’s answers.
Similarly, I sharply questioned my parents while growing up. After I became a parent myself, I found great value in my parents and asking them for advice and guidance.

Both were similar experiences.

I didn’t fully respect or value my parents advice, opinions, or guidance until I understood their love for me. Likewise, I didn’t value God’s authority or answers until I understood His deep love and concern for me, as well.

When you understand just how HUGE God’s love (and heart) truly is, you understand that He will NEVER allow you to go through deep heartache without having a great purpose behind it. His heart is kind…good…merciful…compassionate.

I truly hate that I wasted so much time getting to that humble spot…with God and my parents. I also truly hate that people are taught that it is an extra crispy sin to question God during their greatest life struggles.

For the record: yes, God is God. He is holy, perfect, perfectly good and 100% right all of the time. Absolutely! He doesn’t owe any of us anything…and He most certainly doesn’t owe anybody answers. Ever.

But…as the Ultimate Parent, He loves each and everyone of us so much that He welcomes the dialogue.

It is always better to have a difficult or hard conversation with God where you share with Him your questions and everything you think and feel – in a respectful way – than to harden your heart and make poor choices that will eventually lead to a hard and difficult life.

We don’t ask questions to demand answers…we ask questions to seek to understand His magnificent heart and purpose. And there is ALWAYS purpose in pain.

God can handle the big questions. He can handle the dialogue we bring to Him from the overpowering grief, hardships, and heartaches we each go through. He welcomes our messes…and the imperfect questions we have…with arms wide open.

God wants you to ask Him why your spouse committed adultery, or broke your heart, or left…or why your precious baby or child died…or why your prodigal teenager or adult child is in deep rebellion…or why your family or friends mistreated you…or why you lost your job…or why you or a loved one is going through a major or terminal illness or disability…or any other life questions you may have. He wants you to ask because He genuinely listens and cares. 

When questions are asked, the One who holds the answers can work deep within our hearts and lives. 

Whatever you are going through, God wants you to have a full head-on collision with His great heart so He can help you through your most heart wrenching, honest, authentic, toughest mess of questions.

Because when you go to Him with your questions about life…He gives you an incredible gift — He then deeply ministers to your heart and brings you healing, guidance, purpose and peace.

So go to God and ask your toughest questions. It doesn’t mean that you lack faith…it means you want to finally cross the bridge of the Cross so you can powerfully reconnect with His amazing heart to build your faith back up!

Share with God your gut-wrenching feelings, fears, and concerns. Plead with Him to intervene and work in (and through) every situation in your life.

God doesn’t roll His eyes or resent our questions or pleadings. He’s slow to anger. He welcomes us, loves us, and stands ready to embrace us in His loving compassionate arms.

Whatever you are going through in life, He truly cares. And it isn’t a flippant or fickle type of a care. He’s all in.

When you understand just how all in He is, you begin to place your burdens at His feet…onto His back…into His capable hands…sealed into His loving heart.

So go to God today. Ask Him the questions you most long to. Ask Him to reveal His purpose for any heartache or disappointment you are going through. Ask Him to turn your hardships and grief into something of great value. Seek His heart, unconditionally give Him your circumstances, and ask Him to use you and your life experiences for His glory.

He’s waiting. He loves. He cares.

So after thanking Him for His great patience, compassion, genuine concern, and unfailing love, what will your first heartfelt conversation be?

He welcomes the dialogue. He always welcomes and loves YOU!❤️

©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!❤️

For more encouragement:

Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

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 

Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

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
❤️


Helping The Hurting To Stay In Church

An alarming trend I have seen — and have also heard about from several pastors — is the amount of hurting people who are leaving the church.
There are many reasons why this happens, but here are a few reasons I have seen firsthand:

  1. After a person goes through grief, their church family is usually excellent at being there for them the first few weeks, but when the grief intensifies several weeks or months after the funeral, it can feel as though they have been forgotten or abandoned.
  2. After going through a hurtful or tragic situation, many do not understand how to reach out or know what to say to the hurting person. The hurting person then feels avoided and assumes they’re not important or cared about, so they leave.
  3. A griever tires of being told unhelpful cliches (“At least they’re in a better place,” “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” etc) or they may be prematurely pressured to “get on” with life, without anyone truly taking the time to help them through their grief and pain.
  4. The hurting person’s church may not have a Care Pastor who they can talk to, or their church may not offer care ministries where they can find help and encouragement, so they look for a church that does offer these things.
  5. Church staff or church members deeply wound or mistreat others or “drop the ball” in a hurtful situation.
  6. After a big grief event or loss, they find it very challenging not to cry in church, especially during worship.
  7. After going through grief or loss, they feel such a strong void and intense pain that they do not wish to  be around others.
  8. They feel they are being judged by their situation, or they feel embarrassed or self conscious about their loss.

These are just a few of the common challenges I frequently hear about why those who are hurting leave the church.

So what is the solution? What are we missing?

I believe the more we build the heart and spirit of our churches, the better we will be able to meet the needs of every member — especially when they are grieving or hurting.

People commit (and stay committed) to churches where:

  • they trust and respect the church staff and leadership. The church ideally will also have a staff member or trained volunteers who are able to take on the role of being a Care Pastor to encourage and help those who are hurting.
  • they are taught God’s Word and have continual opportunities to learn and grow in their faith.
  • they are taught how to handle grief, conflict, disappointment, and spiritual warfare from a biblical perspective.
  • they are offered the ability to attend strong care ministries, so they can be helped and encouraged during their toughest times in life. It is very helpful for those who grieve to have a place where they can be with like-minded people who “get” what they are going through in life.
  • they are taught how to become a genuine community. They truly learn how to rejoice and mourn together.
  • they feel genuinely welcomed, accepted and truly cared about
  • they understand the value of being a part of a community and learn how to help each other and build one another up — genuinely encouraging and enjoying fellowship with each other.
  • they feel they can truly “come as they are,” but are encouraged to grow…and have ample opportunities to do so.
  • they experience depth.
  • they can see the church has an overall agreed upon vision—without depth, unity, or vision, the people will perish, spiritually die, or leave during hard times.
  • they have the availability to serve and help others and they understand the importance of their role in belonging and serving others.
  • each member shows – in action – the love, mercy, character, and kindness of Christ.
  • the church staff and members are real, genuine, and authentic.
  • everybody feels like they belong.

Some more tangible ways of helping the grief community in your church are:

  1. Provide grief classes and care ministries to the bereaved
  2. Provide grief education at least biannually to every staff member so they understand how to better serve and minister to those who are hurting
  3. Partner with a trusted and respected Christian counseling center so you have a place to refer those who need extra encouragement and help. The counseling center can also refer their clients to your church’s care ministries
  4. Create a Care Card Ministry where volunteers make and send cards to those who have lost loved ones. Send those who are hurting a card once a month during the first year of their loss
  5. Create a Hospitality Ministry Team that can set up dinners for those who have lost loved ones. Ideally, this team can have volunteers “on call” who can make and deliver dinner each night (or at least every other night) for two weeks after a church member has lost a loved one. This team can also coordinate providing a lunch or dinner to the hurting family on the day of the funeral at the church or funeral home
  6. Host an annual grief conference at your church and extend an invitation to your entire city to attend. At the conference, have a table set up with information about your various care ministries. Also have flyers available that share details about your care ministries and the days and times they meet
  7. Be sure to share with your congregation info about the care ministries you choose to offer. Also, there are many free Bible Reading Plans on grief, trials, and hardships on the YouVersion Bible App. Find quality resources and encourage your members to get involved
  8. Take the time to truly care. Invite someone who is hurting out for coffee or ice cream. Listen to them and be there for them in their time of need. Be a good friend to them. When helping someone who is hurting, ask yourself, “if I (or a family member) was in their position, how would I want for someone to reach out to or be there for us?”
  9. If you know you have personally hurt, offended, mistreated, or wounded someone…or improperly handled a situation (past or present), have the integrity to reach out to that person and apologize
  10. If you notice someone who has been active in your church no longer attends, contact them to see how they’re doing and tell them they’re missed

I hope you found this article helpful. I pray that each of your churches are blessed beyond measure as you minister to and help the hurting! All you do for the grief community matters and is so appreciated so thank you for all you do!

Gratitude and many blessings,
Kim

©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!❤️

For more encouragement:

Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

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

5. Singing Through The Storm: http://bible.com/r/Sj

Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️