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Grief, Guilt, & Regrets

Something that truly breaks my heart is when I talk with grievers who are dealing with guilt and regrets after a loved one dies.

They share how they felt they could have prevented the death of their loved one, or they had an argument (or regret) right before their loved one’s death.

Some never had an opportunity to make things right with their loved one…or say, “I’m sorry”…or…”I love you.

I also talk to other grievers who feel guilty for words left unspoken or not getting a second chance to say what was truly on their heart.

Some weren’t sure how to feel after a family member or friend’s death because the relationship was complicated (I’ll be writing about this topic – Complicated Grief – in an upcoming blog post).

I can genuinely relate to the pain of each of these situations.

I’ve been through times of grief where my guilt and regrets competed with my grief. It’s a terrible, agonizing feeling.

A few examples:

Right before my sister passed away, she and I got into an argument over something incredibly dumb. We very rarely argued so this particular incident was hurtful to the both of us. We both said things we ended up regretting. She was so mad, we didn’t talk for over a week. I ended up sending her flowers with a card that told her I was sorry and I missed her…but in my hurt and pride, I did not write the words, “I love you” on the card.

I’m grateful we worked the situation out before she died, but, boy, did this situation torment me for several years after she had passed away.

The guilt was thick…and my regrets ran deep. I asked myself a thousand times, “Why did you not tell her you loved her on that card?”…”Why didn’t you realize how sick she was or visit her in the hospital?”

I had told my sister I loved her tons of times throughout her life, and several times after that incident…we were best friends. And there’s no way I, or anyone else, could’ve realized how sick she was…she was only sick for a few weeks with what seemed to be seasonal allergies before she died. But after someone we love dies, we truly can balloon up every guilt and regret we have to a much bigger level.

Another situation of guilt and regret had deeply affected me a few years before my sister’s death:

I had a boyfriend who was going on a trip with friends. He came over to my house the night before he was to leave and told me he was considering calling off going…all I had to do was say the word. Not wanting to keep him from having fun, I told him I wasn’t going to tell him what to do…but I encouraged him to have a good time. We had plans the weekend after he was to get back so I explained we could spend time together then.

I’ll never forget my mom coming into my room with tears streaming down her face. She turned on the TV in my bedroom, and that’s when I saw on the news that my boyfriend had died while on his trip. Within half an hour, two of his best friends came over to my house to tell me what I already knew.

Seeing my mom’s tears, his friends faces…and especially seeing his mom at the funeral…left me with more guilt than I could handle. Why didn’t I tell him to stay?

It was several years before I had the ability to forgive myself for both of these situations.

I also had a lot of regrets to work through after a loved one committed suicide.

Guilt and regrets don’t just occur after a loved one’s death…they can also surface in many life situations: an event that destroys lives, adultery, poor decisions, parenting mistakes, estranged relationships, health/disability choices, a bad career move, abortion, unspoken grief events, not making wise life, marriage, or family choices, etc.

I know many people who struggle with deep guilt and regret from similar situations…stemming from both death and life decisions…or feeling as though they could’ve prevented a tragedy from happening…or unspoken words to loved ones who have passed on…or arguments and conflicts that never got resolved…or deep regrets from not communicating in a better way…or suicide issues…or holding back affection…or – and this is a big one – playing the tortuous game of “If only” and “I wish I would’ve”…etc.

So what do you do with regrets and guilt that torment you?

A few things that helped me significantly (and these may help you too):
1. Talking to God about the guilt and regrets and asking Him to heal your broken heart.
2. Asking God to ask loved ones for their forgiveness and asking Him to tell them how much you love and miss them.
3. Realizing that your loved one totally forgives you…In Heaven, they are not holding anything against anyone that had been said or done on earth. What once upset them here does not even remotely upset them in Heaven. They have forgiven others … and they truly want their loved ones to forgive themselves and live a purpose-filled, lovely life.
4. Writing your loved one a note about the situation then shredding it. As you shred it, imagine the situation being completely finished.
5. Forgiving yourself and realizing everyone is fallible. Hindsight is always 20/20. If each person would’ve known better, they totally would’ve done better. 100%! Our loved ones would want for us to know that they would’ve done better too.
6. I made it a priority to learn valuable lessons from my guilt and regrets. This isn’t always easy…but the lessons are there.
7. I chose and made a commitment not to ever repeat the same mistakes from this day forward. As you learn, you grow. Nobody will ever be perfect, but we can choose to continually improve ourselves daily.

I learned through guilt and regrets powerful lessons can be learned. I learned through the first situation to use my words much more carefully, to work out problems quickly, and to forgive others and myself…I also learned to say, “I love you,” to my loved ones more frequently. As a result, I am now very mindful of how I treat my loved ones and consistently treat them as well as I possibly can. I also am very mindful of considering the cost of any decisions I make.

I also learned life is precious. People can be here today and gone tomorrow. I do my best to not take loved ones – or life – for granted.

Grieving is tough. Navigating guilt and regrets is hard. But God is in the details and is willing to bring healing – if you look to Him.

God was so good to show me two Bible verses that gently hugged my broken heart and brought it back to life:

Psalms‬ ‭139:16‬,Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.”

Deuteronomy‬ ‭32:39‬, “See now that I alone am He; there is no God but Me. I bring death and I give life… No one can rescue anyone from My hand.”

Every day of my loved ones’ lives – their birth date and their death date – were pre-planned. I didn’t have the power to prevent tragedy.

God also surprised me with a bittersweet revelation: since Heaven is the ultimate goal…I could emotionally release my loved ones, my guilt and regrets, and all of my feelings to God and be thankful for blessing my loved ones with the gift of living with Him in paradise. Blaming myself was futile too…none of my loved ones would come back to earth if given the choice.

Guilt and regrets are agonizing when we look at things from an earthly perspective. When we look at things from an eternal perspective, that’s where we find healing.

If you are in the valley of guilt and regrets, I encourage you to pour your heart out to God. You have carried the guilt long enough. Carrying guilt and regrets may make you feel as though you are atoning for what happened in the past, but there is a better way: take your broken heart, guilt, and regrets to God, lay them in His loving hands, and ask Him to take these burdens from you. He has the power and ability to lift them as He truly heals your heart.

We cannot do anything about the past…but we can learn valuable lessons and choose to do better from this day forward.

God wants to take all of the heavy burdens life throws at us…and we continually need to allow Him to.

Life is precious! We need to spend time recovering our life, as much as we seek to recover from grief, guilt, and regrets.

I pray God truly and genuinely heals everybody’s heart who is going through guilt and regrets.

Gratitude, healing, & many blessings,

Kim

©2019 Grief Bites. 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): https://m.barnesandnoble.com/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

5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

7. ❤️NEW!❤️Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance and advice.

To The Mom Who Feels Unimportant (or is hurting) This Mother’s Day Weekend

Mother’s Day is a very heartbreaking and tough holiday for some.

Some moms aren’t sure how to spend Mother’s Day because they are trying to figure out how to get through the holiday due to their precious child’s death.

Some women are heartbroken due to infertility issues/not being able to have children.

Some have complicated relationships with their children/mom due to issues that stem from tough circumstances: grief, loss, divorce, adultery, past hurts, disappointments, favoritism, blended families, past abuse, etc.

Some will be sad due to navigating the heartbreaking death of their own beloved mother.

Some did everything in their power to raise their children right, made many sacrifices, and highly loved and treasured their kiddos…yet they now find their teenage or adult children are ungrateful, unkind, or unloving. Their children may not even choose to honor them on Mother’s Day.

Some moms are hurting terribly due to a miscarriage or stillborn death.

Some are regretting an abortion.

Some mothers have been written off, or their relationship has drastically changed, due to the influence of their child’s spouse or significant other.

Some will be missing their mom or child due to them serving in the military or having a job where they travel.

Some are estranged from their mom or children or don’t talk often with them.

Some have children who are battling addictions – and due to the alcohol or drugs, they are frequently talked down to or mistreated. They may not even know their child’s location.

Some stepparents/stepchildren are hurting due to blended family challenges.

Some have been affected by adoption: the child who has never known their biological mother…or the mother who has been missing their child ever since they gave their child up for adoption.

Some moms or their children are incarcerated and won’t be able to spend the day together.

There are multiple reasons why some moms may feel sad, unimportant, unappreciated, unwanted, heartbroken, or unloved this Mother’s Day.

My heart genuinely hurts for any mom who will be hurting this Mother’s Day and also for those who are mistreated! And my heart goes out to the moms who won’t be fully celebrated on Mother’s Day and those who will not have the ability to fully celebrate on this special day.

Moms do so much behind the scenes: pray every day for their children, read stories to them, sing lullabies, make crafts with their children, grocery shop, do laundry, work, cook and make lunches, clean, help and comfort their children when they’re sick, potty train their kiddos, pay for school activities and supplies, provide shelter, clothing, food, and opportunities, create and provide great memories, make holidays and birthdays special, drive their children to activities, worry a million worries, direct their kiddos in the right direction, teach them manners and good character, try to prevent them from making monumental lifelong mistakes, painfully allow them to fail so they can learn and grow…even though they really want to intervene, encourage their kids, love them unconditionally…and other special evidences of great sacrifice. Moms do all of this and more. So many times, moms – and especially their love – can be taken for granted.

When your child dies, or turns against you, it is extremely painful. It’s a continual funeral in your heart. The heartache is always present. The pain continually lingers in the depths of your soul.

Deeply missing a child or mom due to death is excruciatingly painful and permanent here on earth. It feels as though you are forever missing an important piece of your heart…it never feels quite ‘whole’ again. Sometimes, it feels like you can’t even breathe.

When your mom or child willingly chooses to walk out of your life, there are no easy answers when it comes to these very tough, complicated, and fragile circumstances.

The parent-child relationship is so very important…and there are also no easy answers when this vital relationship is taken away through death either.

So what can a mother do when faced with the heartbreaking actions or reactions from their living child(ren)?

  • Pour your heart out to God and share with Him how much you are hurting. Share with Him how much you miss your precious child. If your child is totally estranged from you, share with God how painful this situation is for you. Ask Him to heal your child’s heart, and ask Him to heal your heart, too. Ask God to give you the wisdom you need so you will know how to wisely handle the heartbreak you are going through, as well as your grief or the entire situation. Ask for restoration, harmony, healing, and a miracle.
  • If you know of any time you have wounded your child’s heart or anytime you have mistreated them birth-present, take responsibility and sincerely apologize for any wrongdoings. Pray and ask God to soften their heart, and ask God to bind and rebuke the enemy before you go and talk with your child. If they react to your apology, or refuse to forgive you, stay humble and ask what they need you to do to help them to forgive you. Do not react to them or throw up in their face anything they’ve done. Apologize and genuinely seek forgiveness.
  • Do not allow your child to get a rise out of you. Stay calm and answer pleasantly. When you react or bite the bait of an argument, you reinforce to them the idea (in their mind) that you’re the problem. If you refuse to give them a reaction, they will eventually have to deal with the fact that the problem may be theirs. When you argue with them, they will also justify their mistreatment of you.
  • If you’re not able to talk to your child, tell God you are placing your child in His hands and fully entrusting them to Him. Ask God to mightily work in their life.
  • If your child is battling addiction, ask God to guide your child to the help that He wants for them to receive.
  • Ask God to grant everyone involved the peace, harmony, and genuine love they need. Also, ask God to bring past good memories you and your child once shared back into your child’s heart.
  • Ask your child out to brunch or a movie…or to an activity that you both will enjoy. They may say no, but you’ve planted some small seeds that may bloom in the future. Do not react if they decline the invitation. Simply tell them you love them and miss them.
  • Ultimately, you have zero control over how your much-loved child acts, reacts, behaves, responds, or treats you…you only have control over yourself. No matter what, please realize you have value! Your value does not diminish just because your child (or anyone else for that matter) rejects or mistreats you. Before you were a parent, a child, a spouse, a sibling, or anything else, you were God’s…you were you. God will always love you!
  • Realize that you can be the best mom ever and you can do all of the above, yet it may not be well received.

If you have experienced the death of a child, or you have attempted reconciliation with a present child and it ended poorly, or you aren’t able to talk to or see your child on Mother’s Day, consider doing the following:

  • Attend church and spend the day with God, focusing exclusively on Him.
  • Go to your favorite restaurant with a family member or friend.
  • Do something relaxing such as take a walk in the park, listen to music, go to a movie, visit family members, or do any other activity you find peaceful.
  • Ask your loved ones for extra love and support for Mother’s Day weekend…tell them that Mother’s Day is going to be challenging and sad for you.
  • Visit a bookstore and buy a good book to read.
  • Memories can never be taken away from the heart. Warmly reflect on all of the precious and good memories. Allow your heart to breathe and smile as you remember happier times.
  • Honor your relationship with your loved one by doing an activity in your loved one’s memory.
  • Pamper yourself – do the things that make your heart happy!
  • Reach out to other moms who you know are hurting. Do something kind or special for them.
  • Rent a few movies, get your favorite snacks, and snuggle up on the couch.
  • Take care to be kind and loving to yourself. Be gentle with your heart. You are very valuable and God loves you very much! You are a treasure!!

To any mom (or child) who is going through intense heartache, I am so very sorry!

To experience the death of a child…it’s a crushing, heartbreaking grief event I wish no parent ever had to walk through.

To experience a difficult relationship with a child…I also wish no parent had to go through this as well.

I am praying for all moms, their children, and their families this Mother’s Day!

You are important! I pray your heart will feel great comfort and peace. I pray you will be treated with love and kindness…and that God will wrap His loving arms around your heart!

💗Here are a few blog posts to further encourage you:

https://griefbites.com/2018/03/21/when-god-doesnt-give-you-your-fairytale-2/

https://griefbites.com/2016/03/20/mourning-those-who-are-still-alive/

https://griefbites.com/2018/02/07/grief-when-no-closure-can-be-found/

Wishing everyone a blessed and special Mother’s Day!

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 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): https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330

❤️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

-holidays

5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance.

Two Words That Can Change EVERYTHING

The following verses all have something amazing and special in common: 1 Samuel 23:14, Genesis 8:1, 1 Kings 5:4, Acts 2:24, Psalm 49:15, Genesis 31:7, 31:24, Romans 5:8, Genesis 50:20, Genesis 31:42, Psalm 73:26, Acts 3:15, Genesis 45:8

They all contain two specific words.

And these two words – when put together – are two of the most important and powerful words we can ever hope for and say —

…”but God.

Anytime God uses these two words…you know specific, big and incredible things are going to happen:

incredible change

big protection

incredible grace

specific answers

big healing

It’s just who our God is.

I’ve experienced it time and time again throughout my life.

Today, read the above Bible verses. Think about what you are going through, and then, insert and introduce the words, “but God” to your life experience.

Example: “I may be going through grief…but God will carry me through this tough time and cause good to come out of the situation.”

Where there is deep heartache…a monumental life challenge…a situation that is causing fear or worry…marital or family conflict…a health crisis…anything…these two words are powerful and have the ability to change everything

but God.

Today, you may be going through the death of a treasured loved one…but God is going to carry you through it.

Your spouse may have come home and told you they don’t love you anymore…but God has the power to work in your spouse’s heart and heal your marriage.

You may have just found out a devastating medical diagnosis…but God knows your body inside and out and has the power to work a healing miracle.

You may be estranged from a family member…but God has the power to bring peace and harmony to the relationship.

You may be struggling with addiction (or the addiction of a loved one)…but God is bigger than any addiction.

You may be struggling financially…but God can open up blessings on you when you honor your finances His way.

You may have been deeply wronged, abused, or mistreated by others…but God is the One who sees your tears, places those precious tears in a bottle, and records all of your heartache in His book (Psalm 56:8).

No matter what we go through or experience in life…the words “but God” always apply.

God loves you.

God cares for you.

God wants to help and bless you.

You will never find anyone who loves and cares for you more than God – and He will always redeem and make things new…especially when we place each situation in His hands.

Note: sometimes God doesn’t change things how we want to see things changed…and God’s change happens in His way and His timing. So don’t lose hope. Ever. God will never do something halfheartedly, hurriedly, or incompletely. I’ve found Him to be 100% faithful in every situation. And many times, God changed me first before He changed a situation. Always remember: He’s got you.

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2019 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

More encouragement on this topic:

https://griefbites.com/2016/02/17/7-ways-to-receive-new-mercies-favor-from-god-through-lifes-storms/

https://griefbites.com/2015/12/30/sometimes-god-is-waiting-on-us/

https://griefbites.com/2017/12/23/7-important-things-to-remember-through-a-growing-season/

https://griefbites.com/2015/12/27/delighting-in-god/

https://griefbites.com/2017/04/12/where-are-you-god-2/

https://griefbites.com/2017/02/17/seasons-of-life-when-life-hurts/

https://griefbites.com/2018/02/14/a-special-prayer-for-your-marriage/

https://griefbites.com/2018/02/07/grief-when-no-closure-can-be-found/

https://griefbites.com/2018/03/21/when-god-doesnt-give-you-your-fairytale-2/

https://griefbites.com/2016/06/22/bringing-your-hard-questions-to-god-an-extra-crispy-collision/

https://griefbites.com/2016/03/20/mourning-those-who-are-still-alive/

❤️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): https://m.barnesandnoble.com/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

5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

7. ❤️NEW!❤️Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance.

Grief: When No Closure Can Be Found

Going through grief is excruciating.

Having to go through a grief experience where there is no ability to have closure is terrible.

There have been grief experiences in my life where the grief had a beginning and an end — an opportunity for closure. Then there were other grief experiences that were incredibly painful and felt debilitatingly endless — no opportunity for closure at all. To be honest, in addition to many grief events, I’ve been on two seemingly never ending roller coasters of grief the past 10 years for one situation and 3 1/2 years for the other one…and the heartache of five family members going through cancer at the same time.

I’ve experienced just about every emotion known to mankind and I’ve had to work through these extremely tough thoughts and emotions so they wouldn’t drown me.

I’ve struggled and wrestled spiritually with God with many questions:

“Why would you allow this?”

“Why didn’t You prevent this?”

“Are You there?”

“Do You truly care?”

“Will you please grant my family and me a brand new season…a season of goodness and healing?”

Lots and lots of questions.

Ultimately, God doesn’t owe me answers to any of my questions. God is Godand I am not. He understands the entirety of each situation…He knows the good that will eventually come out of them (Romans 8:28)…and the purpose for each of these situations, too. God understands what He is accomplishing through the tough situations…and in each heart involved in these tough events.

These grief situations seemingly have no closure…and no possibility for closure.

One of these situations caused a dearly loved family member to become an atheist and several family members to drop out of church…which created even more heartfelt, agonizing questions from me to God.

I’ve thought about not only these situations, but all of the situations I’ve experienced in life that I’d label “No Closure Grief Events.” No closure grief events are tough events because it is very difficult to find any closure…the emotions that stem from them can eat you alive. They’re exceptionally tough because it takes a lot of faith to get through them.

Some of the most common No Closure Grief Events are:

  • terminal illness, traumatic brain injuries, permanent disability, debilitating autoimmune illnesses, mental illness issues, etc. – (yourself or a loved one)
  • guilt and regrets you can’t make right
  • unspoken grief events
  • a devastating diagnosis
  • not getting to say “goodbye” to a loved one who died
  • when someone severely violates your trust
  • when a loved one attempts or commits suicide…and you can’t get through to them or couldn’t prevent it
  • when there is a major betrayal in a relationship
  • family, extended family, step-family, marital, or parent/child conflict…and also conflict with any of these that began post-grief
  • separation or divorce – especially if it’s not wanted by one spouse…or adultery
  • a family member rejecting God or becoming an atheist
  • abortion (or grieving a loved one’s choice to get an abortion)
  • church hurt or church abuse
  • rejection (or abandonment) by a family member or loved one
  • situations of assault or abuse – physical, emotional, spiritual, physical, or sexual
  • an ongoing job issue…or being wrongly fired or laid off
  • not getting to say “goodbye” to a loved one who chose to leave
  • not getting to confront or make something right with someone who deeply hurt you…or that someone refusing to do the right thing or make amends
  • a situation where justice did not prevail
  • unfair life events
  • when someone mistreats you, attempts to harm your reputation, or lies about you
  • any harsh life or justice situation where closure is difficult

So what can you do?

God has been teaching me so much these past few years. I haven’t enjoyed the lessons, but I sure have learned…and applied…some very valuable lessons and truths.

Have there been times I’ve wanted to quit? Oh yeah! Many.

Have I been bitter? For a season, I sure was…Absolutely.

Have I been tempted to be mad at God? Yes. I’m thankful for His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

Have I wanted to speak publicly about the situations…and share my thoughts, heart, deep hurts, the incredible injustice, and my opinions? Definitely.

I think anytime you (or a loved one) have experienced a major grief event, especially a No Closure Grief Event…emotions are sure to show up. Some emotions may even surprise you.

When there is no closure, the trick – and what is most needed – is to trust God and not our emotions…to believe God is sovereign in spite of what a situation looks like…to fully fall into God’s arms and realize He truly is good…to know and fully trust that God holds everyone accountable and no one gets away with anything – even if it appears there has been zero conviction or consequences.

Maybe you’re going through a “no closure grief event” right now. Maybe you’ve also pleaded with God for answers through many tears…and have even prayed throughout many months or years. Perhaps you feel like giving up.

I highly encourage you to never give up!

I highly encourage you to never fall away from your relationship with God!

One day, God will give you the gift of closure…the Bible promises it.

God doesn’t mind our questions and pleadings…His heart is big enough to take on our woundedness, sufferings, and hardships…and He truly and genuinely cares about every grief event and situation we go through.

We may not be able to find the closure we need, but God created our hearts – He fully knows and loves us. He will be making every wrong right. The situations we go through do not catch God by surprise. And He will never allow us to go through a situation unless He realizes the situation can be turned into something great. It may not happen overnight…it may even take years…but God can turn your worst events into something of great value.

Our job is to praise God through the storms we face…to deepen and prove our salvation is genuine and real…to love and forgive others…to live in peace…to embrace God, our grief, and our hardships…to learn through everything we face – the good and the bad – and to love God with all of our heart and to sincerely rest in Him.

Today, lay down your toughest grief events – every grief experience – at God’s feet. Cast all your burdens and cares onto Him. Tell God you are choosing to trust Him with everything…especially the situations that are breaking your heart! Leave your hurts, heartaches, burdens, situations, disappointments, dreams, goals, expectations, emotions, and grief experiences with Him.

When the enemy reminds you of a no closure grief event, immediately take your thoughts and feelings to God. It is imperative that you talk through your feelings with God and release those tough emotions into His more than capable hands.

We may not be able to find closure in our present circumstances, but we can find closure through leaving our situations in God’s care.

Seek God with all your heart! Pour out your heart to God as you spend time with Him today!

He loves you.

He truly cares.

Entrust your situation with Him and trust His great heart!

(UPDATE: On 11/1/18, after four very painful years (and a lot of tears, praying, and fasting), God has healed one of these tough situations!🎉…I continue to fervently pray for the remaining 11 year situation and two of the six family members who are still battling cancer.)

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 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): https://m.barnesandnoble.com/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

5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

7. ❤️NEW!❤️Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Valentine’s Day (available February 2019)

⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance and advice.

The Value of Anger in Grief

One of the strongest emotions you may face during times of grief is anger.
I have found throughout the years that anyone who hasn’t been through a tough grief experience, they aren’t quite sure what to do with a loved one who is dealing with anger after an unfair or tragic loss.

Anger is a very uncomfortable emotion. Most people want a remedy that is instant…but anger has to run its course.

Outside of the ground rule I have for those I coach through grief of “Grieve however you need to grieve…as long as you don’t harm God, others, or yourself,”…I never tell a grief-stricken person to not be angry.

Some are going to be angry. Angry at God…angry at other people, including family…angry with a doctor or other hospital workers…angry at life…angry that life drastically changed…angry at the lack of being able to turn back time…angry at injustices…angry at other’s wrongdoings…angry at feeling hopeless or helpless…angry you prematurely or unfairly lost a loved one. The fact is, anger is sometimes interlocked with grief.

One time, at a monthly grief group I lead, there was an attendee who very unfairly went through the premature death of a loved one who meant the world to them. This attendee was screaming…cussing…insulting me…but I didn’t stop it. Another attendee was about to stand up for me and correct the person, but I quickly interrupted and just allowed the parent to get it all out. They didn’t need corrected or judgment…they needed compassion and understanding in the midst of their shattered life and their heart being torn apart.

A grief group should offer a safe place where each attendee can feel how they need to feel, and have the freedom to work through the tough, difficult, and agonizing emotions. When you try to make grief predictable…safe…sterile, you shortchange the person you are trying to help.

The thing is…as I explained to everyone in my grief group – whose eyes were as big as silver dollars at the outburst – why shouldn’t the person who was throwing the fit be angry?They just lost one of the most precious, highly treasured gifts they had ever been given in life. This grief event changed life as they knew it. I’ve seen people become unglued when they temporarily lost a replaceable possession such as a car, home, job, or even when breaking something as silly as a fingernail…and everyone understood – so why not be understanding and empathetic when someone permanently loses a person they greatly love here on earth?

I think it is totally justifiable to have a time for anger during times of grief…without having an outside person trying to remove it, control it, fix it, or lessen it. If someone went through the heartbreaking loss of a loved one’s death…the loss of their marriage…found out they have an untreatable or terminal illness…went through the loss of a job after years of loyalty and service…was assaulted…went through the devastation of adultery…or someone came back after serving in the military…etc. Well, those experiences are harsh, and absolutely horrible. They’re life-changing. Why wouldn’t they be mad? They should be mad for awhile if they need to be. They had terrible things happen to them in life and they should have full understanding and support from loved ones (family, friends, church family, etc) to work through that anger…as long as they aren’t harming God, others, or themselves.

I think society needs to become more comfortable with allowing people to feel what they need to feel during times of grief. And anger is a part of it.

If people on the outside are frustrated with how a loved one is processing grief, think how the griever feels on the inside. They’re frustrated, too. Probably, more so. They most certainly didn’t sign up for the grief experience they’re having to walk through…and when family or friends lack compassion, understanding, and genuine love and empathy, think how much that compounds their hurt and frustration.

If you have a loved one who is experiencing  deep hurt, allow them to hurt without trying to fix them. If you have a loved one who is experiencing anger, allow them to be angry. If they are feeling shattered, allow them the dignity to grieve over their tremendous loss without any judgment.

Majority of grievers will grow through their grief…in time. But they aren’t going to get over it…..no, they will instead need family and friends who care enough to stick around who will actively love them back to life so they are able to get through it.

Even in the toughest life situations, it is never wise to camp out in the wilderness of anger longterm. If you stay angry, or make anger a lifestyle, your grief and pain will be in vain.It will destroy you and your loved ones from the inside out, and will harm your relationships and your quality of life…but anger for a season isn’t bad.

Anger can have great value. For example: as a society, we immediately teach children that anger is a bad emotion…and by doing so, we fail to show them that anger can be a healthy emotion (when used correctly with care) that can be a helpful, driving catalyst to bring about great change. Anger reveals an injustice, injury, or hurt we have experienced in life…and these revelations eventually open up opportunities to prevent similar situations from happening – or to help others who are going through a similar situation.

When a griever is allowed the freedom to feel angry about their loss…mind you, not stay in their anger longterm, but to feel the expected feelings of anger…they are fully using their emotions and heart to process their grief.

The alternative is not pretty.

I’ve seen a lot of grievers stifle their anger or stuff it down, and, instead, turn to alcohol, drugs, and other addictions to numb their pain.

It is far more valuable for a griever to go through – and work through – anger than to permanently destroy their life by denying, burying it, holding it in, or stifling it. Anger is a way of a griever’s heart screaming what they know to be true: “grief sucks…this is not fair…this should not have happened.” Because, ultimately, that is what anger is…it’s acknowledging that what took place in life was hurtful, tragic, unfair, and not right.

The next time you have a loved one who is horrifically hurting in grief, please keep in mind they truly are not trying to be a pain…they instead are in pain.

Expecting a griever, who went through a tragic life event, to not have anger or intense pain would be like unfairly expecting a person who was in a horrible car accident to conceal their pain while in the ambulance or emergency room.

Instead of judgment, please show kindness and mercy, and help them through their hard time. No words necessary…just love them, listen to them, stick around, and be there. Give them the respect and gift of time so they are able to thoroughly understand their grief and how their grief event has impacted their life.

Make the commitment to meet loved ones who are grieving exactly where they are, and to be the kind of family member or friend who is an active, restorative support system to loved ones throughout grief and life.

Always be the mercy and compassion today that you hope to receive in the future.

“It is important to feel the anger without judging it, without attempting to find meaning in it. It may take many forms: anger at the health-care system, at life, at your loved one for leaving. Life is unfair. Death is unfair. Anger is a natural reaction to the unfairness of loss.” ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Gratitude, grace, & 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

It’s always better to: Creating A Great Life

It’s always better to:

•be too emotional than inauthentic 

•be too deep than shallow

•be too forgiving than bitter

•be too loving than rejecting 

•be too compassionate than hard-hearted 

•be too giving than stingy

•be too mercy-filled than unfeeling

•be too kind than excluding

•be too grateful than unappreciative 

•be too responsible than negligent 

•be too concerned than aloof

•be too thoughtful than selfish

•be too humble than arrogant

•be too honest than deceitful 

•be too mindful than careless

•be too invested than regretful 

•be too dependable than flakey

•have too much character than to look back on life with heartache and regrets

•to seek excellence in all you do than to succumb to mediocrity

Excellence is attainable because excellence is achieved by developing your character.

…And character either makes or breaks a person. 

I’ve seen people mightily succeed – or horrifically fail – in their marriages, parenting, relationships with God and family, and also in their business and personal lives…just based on character alone.

When people actively choose to cultivate and improve their character, they’re choosing to positively cultivate and grow success: in their relationships, in their goals, as well as every part of their life.

Look at both the positive and negative character traits above and ask yourself – and allow yourself to truly see – where you need to improve.

It’s always better to actively improve your character, heart, life, and the lives of others than to watch your life pass you by…or worse, to watch your life miserably fail or your loved ones lives deeply hurt due to your poor choices. No one sets out to hurt their loved ones hearts or lives, but it happens all of the time.

God gives each of the choice to either create a great life or to choose a bad life. Whichever is chosen will reap either the blessings or consequences that will follow.

When you look back on your life, you’ll be glad you made good character a high priority.

Proverbs 22:1, Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.”

Matthew‬ ‭12:35, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.”

‭‭Proverbs 28:6, “Better a poor man who lives with integrity than a rich man who distorts right and wrong.”

So how do you develop character and create a great life? 

  • Read the Bible, especially Proverbs, and ask God to give you wisdom and understanding
  • Choose to make one good decision at a time
  • Always choose to do the next “right thing”
  • Realize life is about so much more than you…always put others first – especially God & family (family is the greatest training ground for character – they’re the only people on earth that God Himself placed you with…loving & serving them is the true litmus test of character – and sometimes, they can be the most difficult to get along with. You’ll be amazed how God will oftentimes promote you to the next level – especially in ministry – only after you learn how to genuinely love your spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, etc.)
  • Love God and others with all of your heart
  • Choose to never intentionally hurt or harm others – and go the extra mile to prevent it
  • If you’ve messed up, clear your conscience by apologizing & asking for forgiveness from God and others…and by actively making it up to them and making restitution where necessary. Always ask yourself, “if someone hurt me the same way I hurt them, how would I want them to apologize and make it up to me?”
  • Research character traits and purposely develop one character trait each week or month (click here for a list: https://griefbites.com/2014/07/01/conflict-resolution-pt-3-75-character-qualities-that-can-change-your-life/ )
  • Expect a lot out of yourself in the areas of character, integrity, and how you treat others
  • Do unto others how you want done unto you
  • Develop empathy
  • Do your self-work and sort through your past and current baggage so you’re a joy to others

Developing character and integrity is a lifelong journey. Enjoy every moment of it. It will be one of the most challenging endeavors of your life, but it will also be one of the most rewarding.

Think of the difference you’ll make in not only your own life, but more importantly, in every life around you.

You’ll look back on life, and be so very grateful for the great life you created in loving God and serving others.

©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

⭐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

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

🎁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 🎄⭐❤


The Dark Candle ~ Resolving Guilt After The Death Of A Loved One

When someone you greatly love and cherish dies, life can be a challenge.

A challenge to find joy again.

A challenge not to cry every day.

A challenge to enjoy others.

A challenge to relax by doing your previous favorite activities.

A challenge to figure out how to live life at all.

After my sister passed away, life became a true challenge. I felt absolutely horrible guilt that I couldn’t help her…that I didn’t notice how sick she truly was…that we had a bad argument a few months before she passed away…that I was so busy preparing for thanksgiving that I didn’t visit her the few days she was in the hospital.

My sister and I were extremely close; in fact, she was my best friend. The heartache and intense guilt I felt after she died plagued my heart for years. As I cried out to God to help me through my grief…and to release me from the unrelenting guilt and pain…God was so good to answer my prayers.

My life and the way I process grief has never been the same since.

As I was seeking God for His help, a thought came into my heart, “Your sister doesn’t hold anything against you. What may have bothered her on earth, does not even remotely bother her in Heaven. She knows how much you love her, and she knows if you would have known how ill she was, you would’ve come to the hospital. She loves you and she forgives you. Your sister loved life! She’d want you to enjoy and love life, too, so do so in her honor.”

After sensing this in my heart, my eyes flooded with tears. Ever since that day, I have truly tried my best to celebrate life, love my family, and honor my sister and other loved ones to my greatest ability.

When grief enters your life, you are left to work through all of the tough emotions. You grieve not just the person, instead you grieve every facet of that person and all they meant to you. And it takes time.

I’d like to share a story with you. As you read the following story, keep in mind that during grief, there will be tears – absolutely! – they are a very normal and healthy part of grief. And you don’t always have control of when grief will hit you since grief is much like the ocean’s water…sometimes the water is calm and beautiful, but other times, the water is extremely rocky and torrential.

As you read this story, listen to your heart and truly know that your loved one loves you so very much! They love you for all the ways you loved and cared for them while they were here on earth…and they treasure and love you for all of the ways you honor and remember them daily. They hold nothing against you…they wish you love, peace, comfort, and joy.

I hope this story brings your heart the comfort and peace you so desperately deserve. May God bring your heart healing, love, and all of the good things that life has to offer! You’re going to make it through this!

❤️Gratitude & blessings,
    Kim

The Dark Candle

A man had a little daughter – an only and much beloved child. He lived for her ~ she was his life. So when she became ill and her illness resisted the efforts of the best obtainable physicians, he became like a man possessed, moving heaven and earth to bring about her restoration to health. 

His best efforts proved unavailing and the child died. The father was totally irreconcilable. He became a bitter recluse, shutting himself away from his many friends and refusing every activity that might restore his poise and bring him back to his normal self. But one night he had a dream. He was in Heaven, and was witnessing a grand pageant of all the little child angels. They were marching in an apparently endless line past the Great White Throne. Every white-robed angelic tot carried a candle. He noticed that one child’s candle was not lighted. Then he saw that the child with the dark candle was his own little girl. Rushing to her, while the pageant faltered, he seized her in his arms, caressed her tenderly, and then asked: “How is it, darling that your candle alone is unlighted? His sweet daughter lovingly replied, “Father, they often relight it, but your tears always put it out.” 

Just then he awoke from his dream. The lesson was crystal clear, and its effects were immediate. From that hour on he was not a recluse, but mingled freely and cheerfully with his former friends and associates. No longer would his little darling’s candle be extinguished by his useless tears.

Written by Strickland Gillian

I pray this story brought comfort and great encouragement to your heart. May God bless you today and always!

❤️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

❤️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