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Getting HOPE & The Best Days Of Your Life Back After Grief, Loss, & The Pandemic

Discouragement. Fear. Heaviness of heart. Defeat. Guilt. Regret. Weariness. Anxiety. Turmoil. Fear of the future. Depression. Uncertainty.

There are many feelings that can weigh down and haunt the soul, especially with what all is currently going on in the world.

Many of the feelings that haunt the soul are competitors…they’re competing to knock out your peace, joy, and HOPE.

Due to the pandemic, the world has dramatically changed in just a few months – and in some places, just a matter of weeks or days.

Most of us were enjoying life and loved ones, feeling hopeful about a strengthened economy, and were looking forward to better and brighter days – our best days yet…

…then the rug below was harshly ripped out from underneath us.

We’ve helplessly watched people – even loved ones – suffer. Some have even experienced the death of a treasured loved one. Many are going through financial/job fear and hardship like never before. We’ve watched fear, worry, and anxiety spike…as hope, peace, and faith in the future rapidly fall.

With this pandemic, COVID-19 will affect you in one of three ways: it will seek to massively weaken your (or a loved one’s) health and lungs by infecting your ability to breathe…it can seek to literally and permanently kill your (or a loved one’s) breath causing death…or it will attempt to steal your breath in “life” from you – your hope, faith, relationships, finances, your trust in God – everything you love about life.

I’m so very sorry for all who have experienced the death of a loved one, for all of my readers’ heartache, and all the world is going through. My heart hurts badly for everyone.

I’ve thought a lot about this pandemic…this terrible intruder that continues to affect the lives of so many. I’ve had a lot of extra time to think. Being at home, not being a big TV watcher, and work being affected which has opened up several hours – time seems to be in abundance right now.

We’ve all wanted more time, desperately wanted more hours in our day, but this is not the way we wanted to gain them.

A few days ago, with this new time, I decided to deep clean. Having been affected by cancer, I came across a quote a friend had given me:

WHAT CANCER CANNOT DO

(by Dr. Robert L. Lynn)

Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

With what is going on in the world, it is so very important we all remember a huge truth: nothing on earth – no grief…no pandemic…no disappointment…no financial challenge…no hurts…no loss…no uncertainty…no heartache…none of it can take away any of the things mentioned in the cancer quote above. None of it can take away God’s love or sovereignty, or our life purpose. Nothing.

Re-read the quote above and insert the word of what you’re presently going through (all you are being affected by or are worrying about) to replace the word cancer. For example:

COVID-19 is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

OR…

Grief…illness…financial loss…divorce…(or whatever)…is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

Grief, pandemics, illness, divorce, marriage/family issues, addiction, financial loss/hardships, relationship difficulties, life challenges, rejection — any struggle in life — NONE of these terrible events have the true capacity to defeat you…so don’t allow them that sacred privilege to damage, defeat, or negatively affect you or your soul. Each of these things can do a real number on you…for sure…but it’s up to us to limit their influence and damage.

Sucky life events steal and take away so much from us…but do not ever allow life events to destroy you, your relationship with God, family, or loved ones, or destroy your heart or soul. Never allow anything to destroy your hope.

We can’t completely control grief, loss, or the hard things in life…but we can decide how we will get through each event.

We can choose to be hope-filled…or defeated. And it’s normal if we go back and forth as we continually try to navigate what life has thrown at us. If we want to have better days, we need to continually choose hope if we are going to make it through the tough times.

How do we press forward — especially when our soul is tired?

A little story. It’s a small story, but I hope you’ll find it useful.

When I was in high school, one of my good friends was in a fight. The person who chose to start the fight didn’t give my friend an advantage. Not even a warning. Not at all. My friend was significantly smaller than their opponent and had no idea they were even going to be punched that day. And there wasn’t just the opponent…the opponent brought several friends along with them.

After being punched…my friend, in response, threw a huge, fast, and hard punch back. It just about knocked the opponent out. I was shocked…I bet my friend was shocked…and the opponent and his friends were definitely shocked. The punch allowed my friend to get us out of a bad situation so we’d be safe.

That lil bit of unprecedented courage made an impact: my friend is now a leader in the military. He credits that day with changing his life.

Totally not advocating violence…not at all…but the principle here is a great analogy for life challenges and grief. We will all be sucker punched out of nowhere by an unexpected life event…we won’t even know what hit us…but instead of quitting or accepting defeat, we need to dig deep to find unprecedented courage and punch life challenges back. Huge. Fast. Hard.

Life challenges and grief rob so much from us…do not allow it to rob you further by stealing more of your life, allowing it to get you to quit, or giving up your hope.

Feel what you need to feel. Get through those harsh emotions and horrible days. Learn all you can through any bad event life throws your way. Allow the events to teach you the lessons you didn’t sign up for…but do not ever tap out. Fight with everything you have to get your breath back after life has knocked it out of you.

We will get through these tough days. We may lose a lot along the path of figuring out this new normal and getting our breath back…we each have a long road ahead of us…but life can be good once again. It can definitely be good once again because we will choose for it to be good. We’re not going to allow bad events to choose for us what the quality of our life is going to be. We’re not going to allow life challenges, this pandemic, or grief to decide that for us. It’s already chosen so much for us…now it’s time to start taking the choices – especially choosing to build a quality life – back. We each get to choose what life is going to be now.

Don’t lose hope or faith.

Don’t lose your most prized relationships: God and family…your best loved ones.

Choose today that no matter what you go through, you will choose hope. You will choose to rebuild. You will choose to create.

Building life back up after a major loss is rarely easy…it’s truly painful…but six months from now…one year from now…five years from now…a decade from now…we will look back and be grateful we intentionally chose hope – and to create a good life in spite of monumental challenges. We’ll be thankful we chose to fight to get the breath back that this pandemic – or any other situation of grief – attempted to knock out of us.

What are the steps you need to take today to get your breath and life back? What choices need to be made so you can create the new in your future instead of continually getting lost in the old of the past? What has punched you…and what do you need to punch back huge, fast, and hard? What lessons need to be learned, implemented, and honored during this extraordinarily tough time?

We’ll each get there. I know this because you wouldn’t have read this far if you didn’t have the courage, desire, and tenacity for life change.

Take one step at a time. Continually look at your personal situation, assess and reassess each facet of life, regroup as much as needed, know ahead of time that tough days will continue and happen, allow God to strengthen you, and search for any way to improve your quality of life with God’s grace and help.

Just a note of strong encouragement here: This is the ultimate time for change. When life is hard, it steers us – forces us – into new territory. We don’t like being steered into a new direction…most of us inwardly kick, scream, and resent it…yet it’s the most opportune time to do a true life assessment in every area: relationships, work/career, family, marriage, education/trade, health, etc. Thinking outside the box will undoubtedly lead to new innovation and invention. Ask God what He wants to do through you. Ask Him for major creativity and unprecedented ways to improve life and ways to better help others. All inventions throughout history were created out of times of hardship, uncertainty, or finding ways to better meet a need in the world. I’m looking forward to seeing what new technology, business, and opportunities – as well as life, health, and relationship improvements – will be born out of this time of unparalleled challenge and change.

We have a lot to look forward to.

Several years ago, at a conference in Chicago, I heard a great quote from Wayne Gretzky: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” A small sentence that packs a great big punch. We can all look backwards…and it’s important to do so periodically to learn and not forget…but our best use of time is looking to where life potentially is going to be. That’s what will get us through, and out, of the insurmountable rut and challenging emotions we are all in.

No matter what happens in life, life is still an exquisite gift. The opportunity is there. It’s up to us…each and every day…to choose how to best unwrap the gift of life and enjoy it.

Praying for everyone in the world today. May we all seek God, always choose to do better, and live the absolute best life possible.

By the way…this week, take the time to read Romans 8. See what God has to say to your heart. He loves you and deeply cares about your life. God truly has the power to bring extreme good out of extremely bad circumstances. Ask Him to.❤️

~Kim

©2020 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

Related posts you might like:

❤️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 $3.19 book – all proceeds go back into helping the grief community): https://www.christianbook.com/getting-knocks-transparent-journey-seeking-through/k-b-h-niles/

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

❤️Kim’s blog: https://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. 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.

A Good Reminder For The Holidays…

🎄❤️🎄Grief is difficult…and this time of year can be excruciatingly painful.

Intense sadness. Expectations – from others and of ourselves. Trying to navigate through grief as we try to redeem the holidays. It can all be overwhelming.

Take a moment – or several – throughout the day and just breathe.

Pray. God is a STRONG refuge & TRUE Friend.

Be kind to your heart.

Be so very good to others.

When you’re around family who aren’t acting like the gift they are – remember everybody needs love, acceptance, and kindness…us and them.

Love, care, and seek to be a blessing to others.

Remember and honor your treasured loved one(s) who you miss so very much.

Make a great cup of coffee or tea, put on some soft music, get cozy, and just relax.

If you need a good cry, let it out. It’s totally okay to grieve deeply.

Pamper your heart and soul by doing something peaceful and calming.

Enjoy a good meal with loved ones.

Eat some ice cream or a baked good…something to cheer your heart. I’ve never seen anyone sad while eating either.

Feed your spirit by feasting on the Word of God.

Put your pajamas on, wrap up in a warm blanket, and watch a Christmas movie or home videos.

Light your Christmas tree, turn on some soft Christmas music, and share your day with Jesus. I have found this to be the best way to end my day throughout the season.

If there is a special family member who has been there for you, thank them and share with them you need extra love, encouragement, and support over the holidays. We all need trusted family members and friends throughout grief.

I’m praying for all of you and your families!

Lift the burden of getting through the holidays with the help of our Heavenly Father who loves and adores each of us so much.

You matter. Your heartache matters. And God truly cares.

May each of you have a peaceful & beautiful holiday season!🎄❤️🎄

©2019 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:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book):  Click here for book

❤️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. 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.

🎄❤️🎄

Trustworthy

I absolutely love learning.

Ever since I was a child, I have enjoyed reading, finding out why things are the way they are, and I’ve always had a strong curiosity for learning about new topics.

One of my favorite ways of learning is in a group setting, and today was one of those days of learning through the eyes of others.

Once a week, I get together with my Bible study friends (well, today it was all of us meeting over the Internet via video due to the pandemic). Social distancing at its finest.

We are doing a study together (from Lysa TerKeurst) called Trustworthy: Overcoming Our Greatest Struggles To Trust God.

I’ve done several studies from Lysa before… This one just might be my favorite. It is that good!

As my friends and I were discussing what we were learning through the study, I soaked in all they were sharing, and thought of a couple of things from the study that I think are just so excellent.

A few important takeaways God showed me today:

  • No matter what we go through in life, God genuinely loves us and cares. There is no truer friend and nobody who loves us more than Jesus. He will walk through the hard paths in life with us and redeem these tough situations.
  • If you’re ever wondering how life got to be the way it is… Look at the consequences you’re going through in life. Too many times, we blame God…but if we look at and follow where the consequences originated from, we many times can clearly see where we or others have failed to obey or trust God. Not all the time..but sometimes. In those times where we see that the consequences originated with us or others, it’s a good opportunity to get right with God…and to forgive others. These tough times do not need to define us. Instead of these struggles defining us or continually harming our heart, it is so much better to allow the consequences to refine us and draw each of us back to God’s heart. He’s the one who loves us and can make good things out of bad decisions — Our decisions or someone else’s poor decisions that have deeply affected us.
  • Everyone knows we are not supposed to commit idolatry — But do we really think about what idols we have in our lives? And I mean really, really think about it. I like how Lysa said idolatry is thinking more of ourselves or others than we think of God. That would also include: do we care more about our own feelings or other’s feelings more than what we care about God’s thoughts and feelings? 🙋🏼‍♀️Anyone other than me guilty? I am beyond guilty of this! I don’t plan for it to be like this…but left unchecked, idolatry is easy. A few years ago I did a study from Kyle Idleman called God’s at War. It was a heart-wrenching, soul-sucking, extremely thought-provoking study. I am so thankful I did that study. We all think we don’t have idols… Until we really truly think about it. Both of these studies have challenged me greatly to be honest about what idols I hold in my heart. I recommend both studies for anyone who wants to greatly improve their spiritual life.
  • When we go through hard things in life, it’s so easy to pray, “God, please just have this situation change or end quickly.” I think we have all prayed something like that…probably several times. I know I have. Maybe that’s not the prayer we should ultimately be praying. Perhaps we need to first pray for God to work in a far more reaching way – where we consider the ultimate eternal value of the situation instead of our present comfort. Hard to do, I know. I like comfy-cozy comfort as much as anybody. Sometimes the struggle is real… And we are really done with the struggle. I get it. But are we short changing ourselves when we choose: comfort over God‘s purpose…or worry over trusting God…or trying to manipulate God into doing what we want instead of submitting?

I’m only on page 90 of Trustworthy’s 222 page workbook, so I’m super excited to go through the rest of this study. What I love about Lysa TerKeurst’s style of writing and teaching is how incredibly relatable and encouraging she is. She has a special way of bringing us to the feet of Jesus. She brings us to a place of hope instead of condemnation. I just love her!

I’d also like to add… This study is absolutely perfect for going through this pandemic. So much of what I’ve read in this study is exactly what my heart needed. We are in such a crazy time right now. It’s totally cool how my friend (and Bible study leader) chose this study right before the pandemic broke out.

What areas are you struggling in? What situations are you having a difficult time trusting God? For what situations do you need to seek out godly counsel? When and where have you failed to trust God most? Is there something in your life that you “want what you want” instead of trusting God? Who and what are you putting before God? What areas are hardest to fully submit to God and trust Him? What idols need to be put in their proper place so God can be exalted to His proper place? What situations are hurting your heart the most — where there is pain, God always has a purpose.

Now, go back to the questions I just wrote and really think about each question. Allow the questions to truly transform your heart. God loves you so much…you are so precious to Him…allow Him to refine your life so you can truly give Him your whole heart!

At the end of the video Bible study conference I was a part of today, I told my friends, “I need to get alone with God and talk with Him about so many of these topics.” The questions I asked above? These are questions I asked my own heart today, too. That’s the best thing about being quarantined… We finally all have time to look deep within our heart to see what the contents are. We actually have time to not be in a fast-paced society. We truly can get alone with God and do some spring cleaning of not just our homes…we can do some much needed spring cleaning of our hearts as well.

There’s no better time to read and learn from God than today. Draw close to Him during this time. Ask God to do a purifying work in your heart…ask Him to repair and heal your heart and the hearts of your loved ones. Definitely also ask God to heal and repair all of the damage that this pandemic has done… But let’s also not forget to ask God to repair and heal the damage of every single heart and soul in the world, as well.

God is always good. Even when the world is falling apart around us — especially when the world is falling apart around us. Let’s seek God’s heart today and learn as much as we can through His Word. Psalm 91 is a great place to start.

I pray you and your loved ones are safe and well. May we all seek God, love Him, and bless His heart this week as we draw close to Him.

God is trustworthy!

Gratitude, healing, HOPE, prayers, & many blessings,

Kim

©2020 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:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): https://www.christianbook.com/getting-knocks-transparent-journey-seeking-through/k-b-h-niles/

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

❤️Kim’s blog: https://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. 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.

Be At Peace — Why Your Life & Grief Have Exquisite Value Exactly Today

Where you are today.

Exactly where you are today.

You may be in the depths of despair.
You may be a quarter of the way through your grief journey.
Perhaps you’ve thoroughly been through several grief journeys, have found healing, and are currently loving/encouraging others through their pain.

No matter where you are, right now, today…
..you and your grief have great value.
Exactly where you are today.

There are multiple layers of grief – and multiple people who are grieving around you…you may not even realize who they are.
And somebody desperately needs your encouragement, your story, and your perspective.

Today…choose one day out of each week…to simply be at peace where you are in your grief, create peace in your life, and offer that same peace to others.

Instead of trying to figure out grief…let’s instead make peace with exactly where we are and just take the time to offer love, encouragement, and understanding to those around us and online.

The beautiful thing about life – and grief – is we don’t have to be fully healed or have fully arrived at healing to offer hope and empathy.

There are few things more important than love, empathy, encouragement and hope. Offering these rare, exquisite gifts can make all the difference in the world.

Who can you offer hope, love, empathy and encouragement this week?

How can you create more peace and loving acceptance for your own grief journey and heart today?

Ask God to pour His love, peace, encouragement and hope into you, and to make your heart sensitive to those around you who are hurting.
You never know how God can use you to help others who are drowning in their grief.

Your grief experience has far more value than you can possibly know…EVERY layer of it…

…you are going to be an absolute jewel to those who are hurting.

©2020 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:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s $3.19 book): https://www.christianbook.com/getting-knocks-transparent-journey-seeking-through/k-b-h-niles/

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

❤️Kim’s blog: https://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. 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.

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): Click here for book

❤️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.

When Father’s Day Isn’t A Celebration

Father’s Day is a day of great celebration for many…but what if Father’s Day is a day of great pain?

There are those who have experienced their much loved father’s death…those who are estranged due to abuse or their father having an affair and leaving the family…those who have been abandoned by their dad…and some never met their father because he died or left before they were born.

There are dads who will be in great pain today, too, due to having experienced a much treasured child’s death…dads who have a distant or complicated relationship with their child(ren)…dads who are grieving a child who never got to breathe one breath on earth due to miscarriage…or the child’s mother chose abortion.

There are dads who are serving in the military…or children who are serving, too.

There are some dads or children who are incarcerated as well.

There are some who have no idea where their dad or child is due to addiction or being a prodigal.

Some moms never revealed the identity of their child’s father and decided to raise their child by themselves.

Some adult kiddos have a spouse who will interfere with their relationship with their father today.

Some will flat out ignore their dad or child due to an argument or conflict that never got resolved.

For some, their grandparents are raising them.

For others, they have a single mom who is singlehandedly raising their precious children alone.

Not everybody has the blessing of going out to eat with their dad today (or celebrating with their children)…and there will be no happy Instagram or Facebook post.

Instead, there will be a void…a sadness…that will be greatly felt today.

While growing up, my dad was suddenly killed. Somebody’s selfishness ripped my father from our family.

And Father’s Day was hard.

At church, my Sunday School teachers would instruct us to draw a picture or make a special craft project to give to our dad as a Father’s Day gift.

As I watched my friends run up to their dads to excitedly give them their art work, and see them hugging them and holding their father’s hand…my heart just sunk. I felt out of place…like I didn’t belong.

My mom did a great job that day sharing how God was a good Father who cared.

My mom would later remarry and I eventually received one treasure of a dad. He’s amazing – absolutely wonderful – so I want to give a big shout out to all of the amazing men who step into the grand position of loving their bonus children.

Most importantly, today is a good day to celebrate the Ultimate Father — God.

God the Father will never leave or forsake us. He is always present. He knows every heartache, pain, frustration, and fact about our lives.

He assures us that He is a Father to the fatherless.

Family is extremely important to God…so important that He calls us family…and He greatly values us. He loves us and calls us His.

Psalm 68:5 says, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

Today, you are loved… treasured… valued… precious important.

Whatever is hurting your heart today, God knows. And He cares.

Spend some time with God the Father today and allow His love to soothe and encourage your heart.

Psalm 103:13, “Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.”

Allow God’s great compassion to meet your heart’s needs today.

What if you feel “less than” today? Nothing could be further from the truth!

A quote I love and find very meaningful is:

There are accidental parents, but there are no accidental children. There are illegitimate parents, but there are no illegitimate children. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did,” -Rick Warren

God planned for you and created you with His very own hands. You are here for a reason. You are more than accepted and totally valuable. Never doubt – and never forget – this awesome fact! http://peacewithgod.net

If you know a family member or friend who doesn’t have their father in their life…or a dad who is deeply missing his child, be sure to reach out to them to let them know you care. Compassion and empathy are very good gifts to extend to loved ones today.

Wishing everyone a blessed Father’s Day!

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2019 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:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

❤️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. 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.

The Perfect Way To Grieve

Anyone who has experienced heartbreaking, life-shattering grief understands just how difficult grieving can truly be: all of the emotions…how mentally and emotionally draining it is…how it can affect your relationships (in both positive and negative ways)…the toll it can take on your energy level…and how it can even impact your health.

Grief can do a real number on you.

There are so many different perspectives and viewpoints on grief – and each person believes their perspective and viewpoint is best:

  • Some say you need to write a letter to say goodbye…others say it’s never “goodbye;” it’s “I’ll see you later.”
  • Some say you need to quickly move on in life…while others say fully embrace your grief and take your time.
  • Some say time heals all wounds…while some still experience difficulty for many, many years.
  • Some say God has nothing to do with grief…others say He’s in every detail.
  • Some attend grief groups and gain the support of family and friends…others prefer to grieve alone and privately.
  • Some cry a lot…others rarely cry at all.
  • Some like to talk about their loved one or loss…others prefer not to.

So what is the perfect way to grieve?

What’s right and what’s wrong?

The truth is: there simply isn’t a perfect way to grieve. And there is no cooker-cutter, one-size-fits-all, right or wrong way to grieve either.

Advice is simply advice.

Help is simply help.

Encouragement is simply encouragement.

Thoughts are simply thoughts.

Grief steps are simply grief steps.

After my sister and one of my best friends died three weeks apart, I tried to follow the traditional grief steps. Problem was, I didn’t experience any of them in the correct order. I felt like a grief failure!

I eventually learned what works for one person may not work for another. What one griever might find encouraging may not encourage another person at all.

Some are easily able to process their grief/loss immediately, while for others, it seriously takes time and a lot of effort.

Some are able to eventually date/remarry, while another widow may never find the ability to get married again.

Some feel relief (or other extremely difficult, complex emotions) when a loved one dies (due to abuse situations, terminal illness, abandonment, relationship difficulties, etc), while others may feel total, utter loss.

Some are able to celebrate holidays and return back to living life quickly, while another may need a lot of time to find their smile again. Some may never fully find it.

Grief is an incredibly personal journey…and there just simply isn’t one perfect road to healing. There are many.

It is so very important for all grievers – and their family and friends – to remember this very important truth:

The perfect way to grieve simply doesn’t exist.

Each person’s grief experience is as custom and unique as the person who is navigating through it.

Have compassion and empathy for one another as you seek out and find the best grief resources for you. With so many good grief resources available – locally, nationally, through churches, as well as on the internet, each griever can customize these precious resources to best fit their needs.

The most important thing is to find the help and encouragement you feel most comfortable with to grow and heal throughout your grief journey.

This may include:

  • deepening your relationship with God and allowing Him to guide and direct you through your grief
  • allowing trusted family and friends to encourage and support you
  • talking to a trusted pastor
  • finding a good grief counselor or therapist
  • reading good books on grief and loss
  • seeking out your church’s grief resources
  • attending a grief group (online or in person) such as GriefShare, The Compassionate Friends, Grief Bites, The Grief Recovery Method, or other grief support groups offered through various churches.
  • online resources such as Grief Bites, Hope For The Broken Hearted, or Open to Hope, various grief blogs, or other trusted organizations.
  • reading grief and loss related Bible reading plans on YouVersion, the Bible app
  • anything positive and healthy you find to be of help

Although there is no one “perfect way” to grieve, each person has the daily opportunity to grieve in their own unique perfect way.

Wishing all of you healing, comfort, and peace!

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:

❤️Connect on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

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

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

❤️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

Above grief resources and organizations are only mentioned for encouragement purposes only and are not to be considered an endorsement by Grief Bites. Use of any is a personal decision and at own risk.

Have Questions for God?

All throughout history, people have struggled with the question, “Why did God allow this to happen?” – and accuse God of abandoning them.

Gideon was no different.

Judges‬ ‭6:12-13‬, “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (and here it goes: Gideon starts questioning what so many have thought or verbalized since the beginning of time)
Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.””

Gideon was in the middle of a crisis and his hope and trust were thin. Can you relate?

Gideon was an unlikely hero and conquerer – the odds were significantly stacked against the poor guy – yet God greatly used him in a huge, powerful way.
But first, God needed to work in Gideon’s heart.

In the 6th chapter of Judges, we find God revealed to Gideon some key things that needed to happen before He granted deliverance:

  1. A removal of a false God – what do we need to remove from our lives so that God can powerfully work? What “god(s)” are we choosing over the one true God?
  2. Sacrifice – God doesn’t NEED our sacrifices (Hosea 6:6 – another great book!) but He does desire a heart that is sold out to Him and Him alone. God wants us to give Him this: rightful first place in our hearts and lives. Loyalty. Love. Commitment.
  3. God desires for us to trust Him – we need to remove our doubts, our fears, and overcome our questions so we can have – and intimately experience – a dynamic encounter with Him.
  4. Obedience – whether it makes sense to us or not.

Notice as you read Judges 6 that God was patient with Gideon. When Gideon lacked hope or faith, or even had questions, God lovingly provided grace and evidence of His love and guidance.

God will do the same for us, too!

The most difficult times of my life have led to some of my greatest times with God. Difficult times are never easy – they’re painfully excruciating – but God has always carried me through these tough times. Faithfully.

When life throws BIG problems at you…these are often allowed so we will stop depending on ourselves and depend on God.
God-sized problems always open up the opportunity for God to provide God-sized love and answers.

Today, read Judges.

God will never abandon us. Ever.

Whatever “battle” we are going through in life, God has the power to bring total victory – no matter what the odds appear to be.

I challenge all of us to:

  • seek God’s face
  • remove the things/“gods”/sin in our heart that prevent us from truly putting God first
  • be fully devoted to God
  • Love and obey Him with all of our heart
  • ask God to remove our doubts, fears, and worries as we cast all of our cares upon Him
  • and ask to experience a dynamic encounter with Him

When we are tempted to question God’s Will, may we always remember this:
God’s perfect Will is exactly what we all would want if we knew ALL the facts. His ways are good and perfect – even if they don’t seem to be perfect and don’t feel good to us. He sees the big picture – start to finish.

Choosing to obey and trust God in difficult circumstances is a beautiful act of faith. And we need God’s continual love, help, and strength to accomplish this.

Let’s choose to love, obey, and trust God – and entrust Him with all the facts as we submit to Him today.
He loves you!💗

Hope all of you are safe and well,
Kim

©2020 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:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): https://www.christianbook.com/getting-knocks-transparent-journey-seeking-through/k-b-h-niles/

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

❤️Kim’s blog: https://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. 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.

❤️

Grief Bites

I previously posted this a few years ago, but thought it’d be a good repost since I am often asked how we came up with the name “Grief Bites” for our ministry. Hope this brings hope and encouragement to all who read it!💗

“Grief Bites.”

Such a simple sentence…yet complex and filled with incredible pain.

My sister called me one morning while I was in deep grief to ask how I was doing.

“Grief Bites” is all I could mutter through my tears.

Little did I realize how a little two-word simple sentence would transform my grief…and be the start of a significant plan pre-orchestrated by God.

That one random phone call, one question, and those two little words – God would eventually develop it into 3 published books, a local grief organization, a national grief ministry that would encourage and give hope to people through multiple church campuses, an international blog that serves grief communities in over 150 countries, as well as several Bible Reading Plans on YouVersion (the Bible app that offers hope and encouragement to millions).

The morning my sister called me, we both were in the middle of experiencing a lot of grief.

I was sick of grief – and to be honest, I was sick of life. I literally felt like I was “dead but couldn’t die”…as though all of my breath and “life” had been sucked out of my lungs and heart. Anyone who has experienced deep grief can completely understand the intense heartache I’m describing.

In the 3 years leading up to that phone call:

  • my son had been diagnosed with tumors and went through several consultations and three surgeries in hospitals in three cities and two different states for ten months
  • 3 of my son’s friends died
  • my grandmother died in a freak accident a few days before Christmas
  • 2 family members died on the same day
  • my husband deeply betrayed me and our marriage crumbled almost to the point of divorce
  • I had a cancer scare that required 2 surgeries
  • my sister’s 2nd fiancé suddenly died on Easter (this was her 2nd fiancé to pass away..her 1st fiancé died a few weeks before our other sister’s death)
  • many key relationships I dearly loved deeply changed
  • a loved one battled addiction
  • my son’s father committed suicide
  • I became extremely ill and although I didn’t change my diet, I went up 5 dress sizes within 3 months out of nowhere…I would eventually be diagnosed with a serious autoimmune illness due to stress…and was bedridden for a lengthy time (I eventually found an effective treatment so I can be fully functional)

With everything happening so quickly together, I felt incredibly defeated.

To go through several deaths, my son’s illness, my illness, heartbreaking issues, relationship losses and changes, among other losses…all within a short period of time…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, have a pity party, and become – or worse, remain – a depressed mess. I had already been tempted to do 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 since I was a child. In hindsight, I’m actually very grateful for the grief I went through while growing up because I don’t think I could’ve made it through my adult grief experiences without knowing what to expect through previous massive heartache.

While growing up:

  • my dad was killed
  • my favorite grandmother (who lived with us after my dad’s death) died a few years later
  • after my mom remarried, we moved twice within months due to extended family conflict
  • our home completely flooded the week of Christmas and we lost all of our belongings. We ended up living in a motel for several months while our home was repaired
  • my step-grandmother unfairly rejected and mistreated my mom, my siblings, and me…just because my mom was a widow with children
  • I lost two grandparents, my step-grandmother, two uncles, two friends, and an aunt to cancer
  • I was raped, and as a result, I was hospitalized in ICU where I almost died (my sister saved my life)
  • my high school boyfriend died in a car accident
  • I was in an abusive relationship in high school, so abusive I was pushed out of a speeding car just for wearing lipstick
  • my good friend died from suicide
  • a friend was murdered
  • a friend from my bible study group died from suicide
  • my dad was laid off twice and had to live in a different city for two years
  • I experienced deep church hurt
  • my older sister’s 1st fiancé died (her fiancé was also one of my best friends)
  • and a few weeks later, my 22 year-old sister suddenly died on Thanksgiving

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 this time was different.

I didn’t want to just try to “get over” my grief. This time, I was desperate to get through my grief…and truly understand.

As I already previously did (while growing up), I didn’t want to be forever mad at God and “life”…I actually needed to deeply and heart-wrenchingly take my tough questions to God so I could come to genuine peace with Him.

I didn’t want to live in the shadow of grief the rest of my life. I wanted to find a new way of life that made sense … a new way of life that held meaning and purpose.

Majority of the grief experiences we go through will never make sense, but I found that purpose and 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 hold tremendous value.

And eventually I learned, (ironically through my grief), that God IS good. So very, very good!

It didn’t magically happen overnight, but God did heal my heart from major grief and heartache.

God is a genius at healing a broken heart and repairing a crushed spirit.

God can turn a test into a testimony…a mess into a message…a trial into a triumph…a victim into a victor…

The reason I share my grief is not to solicit sympathy or pity…absolutely not. I count grief as one of the best things to ever happen to me.

I don’t count the grief events – any of the heartache – as a good thing…goodness no...but how grief shaped my heart and life purpose holds tremendous value to me. It was through everything I went through in the past that made me who I am today.

I must say…I initially turned against God due to all of the grief I endured while growing up. I went through major rebellion initially…but I eventually became a Christian and submitted my heart and life to God’s plan when I was 18 years-old.

A good friend had challenged me to rethink my grief…and all I thought about God. He challenged me to read the entire Bible and get to know God for myself.

I’ve never been the same since.

As I got to know God, He eventuality revealed an important truth: With each grief experience He entrusted to me, God was widening my understanding, empathy, and ability to deeply understand grief – and eventually help and encourage others.

After sharing with my sister those two life-changing words, “Grief Bites,” we began discussing how we could help encourage other grievers through the grief experiences we each had faced.

Right before this conversation, I had begun writing a book to help encourage my son, mom, sister, and other family members through their deep grief. I had years of journals I had written of all God had shown me through multiple grief journeys and I was doing an in-depth Bible study on grief, loss, trials, hardships, and life challenges.

While attending a family member’s out of town birthday party, I didn’t know many people there, so I took out my iPad and continued to write the grief book I was writing for my family.

My brother (who is a pastor) had a fellow pastor friend there. This friend approached me and asked what I was working on. After showing him the book I was working on, he encouraged me to submit my book into the Women of Faith Book Writing Contest.

I didn’t expect anything to happen or come of it…but then I received the news that my book was chosen as a Semi-finalist.

My book, Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You, was published and was given out at two Women of Faith Conferences.

With my book, ministry, blog, YouVersion plans, and anything else I do, I take absolutely no credit. It is all God. I give God all of the credit and glory. I’m just a good listener who writes all the Lord shows me. And all of my book royalties are (and always have been) poured back into local grief communities and churches.

God (through grief) has taught me incredibly powerful lessons I never could have hoped to learn any other way. I’m a much better Christ-follower, spouse, mom, aunt, family member, friend, neighbor, grief coach, and church member due to my grief. My compassion, mercy, understanding, and ability to communicate with grievers was deeply developed through each grief experience I faced and – with the grace of God – overcame.

It is also through my grief experiences I found my purpose in life: I get the privilege of helping so many through their grief so they are able to live better lives.

Although extremely painful to go through, I finally (and through a lot of hard work) came to a place of peace with each grief experience.

So why blog, write, and speak about grief?

Because grief has a huge need to be more commonly talked about so people can find the hope, encouragement, and relief they so desperately need from grief — And so everyone can understand how to help and minister to those in grief, too.

And because grief doesn’t end on the day of the funeral — in fact, grief never completely goes away…because love never dies, grief velcroes itself to your heart. And the greater the love, the greater the grief. Grievers need hope, and to know how to travel through the treacherous roads of grief to get to the other side.

Grief typically doesn’t stay as strong as it is in the first few months or years…but it lingers and can come back full strength at the oddest times. It doesn’t have to be a thing that weighs your heart down though…it can become one of the greatest catalysts of growth you’ll ever experience.

Some grief experiences are minor, while other grief experiences are majorly debilitating. There is hope for major grief, but it takes grief recovery efforts to get to that point.

I count it a privilege to coach hurting people through that overwhelmingly tough journey.

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 better understand.

Like Pastor Rick Warren says: Who better to help someone through their grief than a person who has already walked the same thorny road?

This blog – as well as my book, YouVersion plans and other Grief Bites resources – is for anyone who has been through grief or loss…anyone who has been through a heart-shattering sleepless night…anyone who has had a broken heart…anyone who feels like their breath and life have been sucked out of them — yet they still want 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 experienced.

Notice 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 don’t believe in “Goodbye”; I believe in, “See you later!”…I’ll write more about this 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 heart and life further than you want 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 cleanse your heart and teach you lessons…and the lessons are certainly there.

Choose TODAY to embrace and thoroughly go through your grief so you are truly able to create the life you want to live in the years to come.

It will NOT be easy.

There is no such thing as “neatly” grieving or a one-size-fits-all-cookie-cutter-style of 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.

Although grief nearly permanently paralyzed my heart, I eventually decided 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.

I realized 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…because life (and enjoying loved ones) is the best adventure on earth. There is nothing like fully experiencing life. And there is no time to waste.

I have a motto: 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 and grief.

Yes, there will be dark colors on that canvas…but there can also be – with God’s grace and healing – colors of light…perfectly blended together in total depth and beauty.

The very best way to get back at grief: getting your breath back after life and grief have knocked it out of you.

It will take time and you will know when your heart is ready. It is very helpful to join a grief group and talk to a trusted and respected pastor/counselor too.

Grief bites.

It certainly does…

…but with God, we ALL have the power within us to bite back.

©2014 / 2018 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:

🌸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 – all proceeds go back into helping the grief community): Click here for book

❤️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. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Valentine’s Day: 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 (Or Child) Who Is Hurting This Mother’s Day💗

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 mom/children due to issues that stem from past or current tough/painful 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 raised their children right, made many sacrifices, loved and treasured their kiddos…yet they now find their teenage or adult children are unkind or unloving. Their children may not even choose to honor them on Mother’s Day.

Some children did everything in their power to earn their mom’s love and approval – to no avail.

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

Some are regretting an abortion.

Some mothers (or children) have been written off, or their relationship has drastically changed, due to the influence of their child’s (or parent’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 a mom or 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 mom or child’s location.

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

Some have the events of an adoption on their heart: the child who has never known their biological mother and wonders about her…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 (or child) 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.

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 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.

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.

⭐️(UPDATE: with COVID-19 currently affecting the world, some of the tips below will need to be modified to ensure proper health and practicing social distancing is a must.)

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 online 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!!

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.

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): Click here for book

❤️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.

Choosing To Make Every Day A Celebrated Day Throughout Grief

Life is made up of days.

Most people typically describe their day as one of the following:

  • Good
  • Bad
  • Great
  • Fantastic
  • Lovely
  • Terrible
  • Sad
  • Frustrating
  • “Fine”
  • and every other adjective known to mankind

You rarely hear people say, “Celebrated.”

Especially not in grief.

When most people think of the word celebration, they think of birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, won sporting events – all of the happy occasions.

These celebrations are easy. They’re all smiles, fun, and enjoyable circumstances. No effort needed at all.

But what about when life gets hard? Really, really hard?

Celebrating every day during grief is much more challenging – but I have found it is equally needed.

The past 10 years, I have been through intense grief…over 30 major grief experiences – including my son’s tumors and surgeries, several family members being diagnosed with cancer, 13 family members dying, and experiencing six close friend’s deaths, my son being greatly wounded by his church and choosing atheism as a result, a family suicide, among other grief events. I’ve also been diagnosed with several autoimmune illnesses throughout this time due to the stress.

There has been extreme anguish throughout this past decade. Debilitating grief and prolonged hardships are all very tough to go through.

When you initially go through intense grief, you don’t feel like celebrating. A good day is holding it together and concealing your tears so you don’t draw unwanted attention to yourself. For some who go through grief, a good day is simply mustering up the courage and energy just to get out of bed.

About half way into all of these grief events, I became concerned that I’d never feel genuine happiness again.

Thankfully, I found happiness and joy are both a choice.

Before you discontinue reading the rest of this blog post, please keep reading on. I understand how annoying that statement sounds. Truly!

It used to majorly annoy me when people would say that happiness and joy were choices…

…until I heard a dear bereaved mother who had lost her adult son to suicide say, “Choose joy!

Before Kay Warren said those two words, I always thought people were very insensitive to say that joy and happiness were a choice. But when someone can say these words in the midst of excruciating heartache, such as Pastors Rick and Kay Warren, I’ll listen to them.

Because it’s genuine. It’s real. It’s hard-fought. It’s extremely authentic.

I have found that joy and happiness are definitely choices…choices I now intentionally choose every day of my life.

I have also found that choosing to celebrate each day is also a choice.

Before grief, the words joy and celebrate hold much different definitions. These words were easy. Blissful. Comfortable, even.

After grief, you find these two words hold brand new meaning. They’re hard-fought treasures that you had to walk through emotional hell on earth to obtain.

I can’t go back and change anything that has happened in life. I can’t change the heartache and grief I’ve experienced. I can’t bring my loved ones back to life. I can’t undiagnose illness. I can’t undo other people’s hurtful or devastating decisions that led to massive consequences.

I do have complete choice and control over my own personal decisions, though.

Although I would definitely go back in time and change some things…and I most definitely would reverse my loved ones deaths if I could…I wouldn’t give up any lesson I’ve learned through the incredible teacher of Grief.

I have learned a phenomenal amount of life lessons as I embraced my grief.

At first, I saw grief as something that ripped my heart out and was holding it hostage…but as I chose to embrace my grief, the lessons came pouring in. I didn’t embrace my grief at first – I resented it greatly. I am thankful I opened my heart to the rich lessons I have learned, though.

Deep heartache and loss attempted to define my life…I, in turn, sought to allow grief to redefine – and refine – my life instead.

Through many tears, grief allowed me to see things clearer.

I think very differently.

I feel things at a much greater level and have a much higher capacity of intuitiveness.

I have found that the experience of life is viewed, felt, and experienced at a much higher quality.

I’m different, too. Very different than who I once was.

And I am much stronger.

I absolutely do not celebrate any grief event I’ve been through…but I do celebrate the many byproducts – all hard-fought and earned – that I have gained throughout my grief.

A few I most treasure:

  • A much closer, genuine, authentic, and more intimate relationship with God
  • The strength I’ve gained through grief and hardships
  • The ability to clear away the mundane and focus on who and what truly matters in life
  • The incredible ability to love and appreciate my family at a far higher level
  • The depth that is created through hardships and grief…I am no longer comfortable being shallow in any area of life
  • The wisdom, discernment, and understanding you gain through grief
  • The ability to be grateful… genuinely grateful … for everything in life
  • The ability to be a good “read” on people very quickly and the ability to discern even the most subtle emotions of others
  • The ability to appreciate and celebrate each day – regardless of what I’m going through (this gift took years to achieve)

These are just a few of many “gifts” I have received throughout grief. They’re not gifts you’d ever expect…and nobody in their right mind would willingly sign up for grief or hardships to gain them…but they are very precious gifts, nonetheless.

Focus is key in creating a celebration mindset. What you focus on is where your heart will be…and each day, I am given an important choice: If I focus on all of my loss, I will most likely live a life of loss. If I focus on even the smallest celebrations of the day, I’ll live a life of continual, intentional celebration.

I’m not suggesting to bypass grief or that a celebration mindset will remove grief. Absolutely not! Each griever must be true to their grief and thoroughly experience it. To not do that would be to cheapen grief and dishonor loved ones. I still experience grief, sadness, and missing treasured loved ones – for sure, I just also simultaneously choose to experience joy and allow celebration into my daily life.

I have found it helpful … even lifesaving … to balance grief and celebrating the gifts God and life still have to offer.

Each “gift” leads you to the unmistakable truth that every day can be a celebrated day.

Every day is a great day to be alive.

Every day is a fantastic day that you have the exquisite and exclusive gift of being able to love, talk to, share life with, and hug your remaining loved ones. Remaining loved ones truly are an extravagant miracle if you seriously think about it.

Every day offers the new ability to learn more. Know more. Understand more. Empathize more. The more you learn, know, understand, and empathize, you are then able to do better.

Every day allows you to seek and find fresh new strength…and new ways of creating the best “new normal” you not only initially muster – but eventually enjoy.

Every day is an opportunity to enjoy God, remaining loved ones, work, nature, hobbies, adventures, and the simple things in life like working out, savoring a great cup of coffee, enjoying pets, appreciating music, and the ability to set and achieve goals.

Life, no matter what we go through, is the best adventure – an adventure not afforded … or continued … to all. I have found the best way to honor my loved ones (both the deceased and my remaining loved ones) is to honor them by celebrating life.

Just having the breath of life is an extravagant gift…and that is definitely something to celebrate every single day.

The very best days of life may not have even happened yet. On my toughest days, this is a truth I focus on.

Each day – no matter how excruciatingly tough it is – is a choice. We have the ability to squander life or create the life we want…and we make this very important choice each and every day. And this makes every day an opportunity to make the choice of making every day a celebrated day.

Will there be extremely hard days? Yes. Will there be heartbreaking days you dread, where you feel like your grief could literally consume and destroy you? Absolutely!

But with each daily decision to press forward through the pain– and truly see each celebration offered throughout each day, life can eventually be the true celebration you choose and want it to be.

It may take time…maybe even lots of time…but it is possible.

A quote I’d like to encourage you with:

“Although I am grieving, the clock is still ticking, and that’s why I keep living…purposefully.”

How can you choose to make each day a celebrated day?❤️🎁

Gratitude & many 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): Click here for book

❤️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

The Calendars & Clocks Of Grief

Anyone who has experienced a major grief event can tell you the very second their entire world stopped and fell apart.

The calendar date, time, and all of the memories surrounding the worst day of a griever’s life becomes forever etched onto their heart.

Time takes on a new meaning to someone who is going through grief. Each griever can tell you that the dynamic of “time” permanently changes.

Before grief, you kind of take time for granted…it’s just years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds on a calendar or clock. These times go from a linear line of time from past, present, into the future.

When you go through grief, the calendar and clock dramatically changes. No longer living a linear line of past, present, into the future, the calendar and clock become a messy, squiggly line that swirls and dips into the past, present, future — all over the place.

You think about the past and desperately long for your treasured loved one…you try to remain in the present for your remaining loved ones…and you can truly dread the future because with each step, it’s more steps – and memories – away from your loved one who is no longer here.

And a month or date is no longer just a month or date…it becomes the month and the day.

Time is a crazy thing after going through grief. Although I’ve made it through the toughest days of grief, rebuilt my life, and am able to help others now…there are random times where the grief hits out of nowhere. Like today, when I read a blog post.

Today, I read a blog post about death anniversaries that resonated with me and brought tears to my eyes. As I read this particular blog post, my heart hurt so deeply for the Chapman family. While reading Mary Beth’s blog post, I Hate May, my heart deeply empathized with and hurt for Mary Beth. My heart hurts badly for anyone who has experienced the loss of a much treasured child or family member.

As I continued to read Mary Beth’s blog post, it reminded me of the deep heartaches and struggles I’ve seen my mom go through since my sister died.

It brought back a lot of memories…

The look on my mom’s face after my sister’s doctor told our family that she didn’t make it through the Code Blue…the times my mom’s grief was so devastating that she could barely talk through her tears…the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and special events that felt hollow since my sister couldn’t be there to celebrate with us…the vacations our family wish she could’ve been a part of…the times my sister’s favorite songs have played on the radio or at a restaurant, and the bittersweetness these moments offer.

The time our family went on a cruise to try to outsmart the anniversary date of my sister’s death. Since you lose track of days and times on a cruise ship, we thought it’d be a great idea. I asked my mom to go on a coffee date on the cruise ship (on my sister’s actual death date) and she said yes. Smiling only moments before we got our drinks, I looked over at my mom and her head was laid down into her arms crying. She said one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard her say about time…”Kim, today is a significant anniversary. Melody has now been gone longer than she was with us. She’s been dead longer than she lived.”

The struggles a parent and all grievers go through after the loss of a child or loved one is awful…and calendars and clocks after grief are exceptionally cruel.

Sure, you look back and the memories are not all sad. You remember all of the amazing days and times you spent together. The good memories help you through the pain.

I’m blessed to have a treasure trove of memories…Like the time my sister and I were at the beach and she hid a real lobster in my bed to surprise me…the many times we baked cookies together…the sleepovers while growing up…the times we snuck out of bed and stayed up all night playing video games in the Summer…the time she took up for me and (very out of character of her) punched a girl at school for calling me a name…the time our parents went shopping and we opened every Christmas present – the week before Christmas – and we rewrapped each gift so we wouldn’t get in trouble…the times we went to her favorite Mexican restaurant and had the best time talking and spending time together…the magical sound of her playing the piano and seeing the pride on her face after winning each piano competition…seeing her absolute joy on her wedding day…watching her be in total bliss as she became a mom and enjoyed – and totally adored – her daughters…and all of the fun we had with her on our very last vacation just two months before she died.

Calendar dates, anniversaries, and time can be extremely painful after a loved one dies.

Very.

And time is a very funny thing (not in a “haha” way, but a peculiarly unique way).

You eventually have good days…and some are really, really good…but every griever understands that a memory or trigger can deeply pierce your heart, bring on a floodgate of tears, and make you wish you had just one more minute with your loved one again.

Whenever I think about time during grief, and my heart is hurting, I use it as a signal to spend time with God. In all of grief’s timing, this has helped me more than anything. I also appreciate family, friends, and others who transparently share or blog about their grief experiences.

You always hear people say about time, “Time is money,” and “Time heals all wounds,” but grievers understand the true price of time…The price of love and time is grief.

I really, truly hate how unfair it all is.

I’ve talked with so many who believe that there should be a timeline for grief…a beginning and ending. I don’t see that as a reality. Just like time, grief is interwoven into our lives.

Instead of pressuring grievers to “get over it”…how about we continually help them get through it? Instead of placing a very unfair timeline onto their heart, how about we welcome the truth that it is totally okay and acceptable to forever love and remember their treasured loved one. As long as love is present, so is grief. And understanding that grieving doesn’t just take time…it is thoroughly a permanent part of time.

That doesn’t mean life has to forever hurt. God can transition the hurt (over time) into something of great value: we can eventually warmly remember our loved ones and honor their memory.

Through each calendar year, every grief anniversary, and each moment in time, I pray God will comfort each griever’s heart like never before.

The ability to live life again is possible…it truly does take time though. Second by second…minute by minute…hour by hour…day by day…week by week…year by year…moment by moment.💕

If you’d like to read the great blog post by Mary Beth Chapman I mentioned earlier, here’s the link. It is very good! https://www.marybethchapman.com/blog/2018/5/1/i-hate-may

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): Click here for book

❤️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.

Relief From Grief

Throughout my grief journeys, I’ve always purposely ensured I take the time to care for myself – spirit, mind, heart, body, and soul.

I also have trained myself to continue pursuing my hobbies and interests during these tough times (even if I don’t feel up to it) because they offer a way to blow off steam, relax, or create enjoyment … which is so very needed during times of grief.

I call these times, “My relief from grief.”

Some of my favorite things to do are: spend time with God, my loved ones, and our family’s dogs, take time for self improvement (read, reflect, plan / implement self-improvement, journal), watch a good movie, go get a great cup of coffee, sit by the fire and listen to some good acoustic music, go lift weights, do tae kwon do, go on a run, listen to my favorite music playlists, cook/bake, and go to the shooting range to shoot guns. All of these have the ability to improve my mood greatly!

During a few grief experiences, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything. Life and grief had knocked me down…and I initially just felt like tapping out and doing absolutely nothing.

After awhile though, I knew that wasn’t the life I wanted to live. I’ve always thought of life as the greatest gift and best adventure. I didn’t want to waste the precious gift of life, the time I could be spending with my remaining loved ones, or the time I have here on earth.

I knew I had to embrace my grief and find a new strength so I’d have the ability to grow through my heartache and eventually press forward.

It’s painful pressing forward and creating a new normal. As you do so, you realize you’re taking steps forward away from the previous pre-grief life you once knew and lived. With each new memory made, you know that your loved one wasn’t there to be a part of the memory. It feels wrong.

I didn’t like the feeling of embracing my grief and eventually pressing forward at all … but I also knew I was hideously miserable staying stagnant. I also knew my loved ones loved seeing my smile and joy while they were here on earth – just as much as I loved seeing their smiles and joy while they were here with me– and I know they’d never want me to stay continually or permanently depressed.

So I chose to get up.

I remember someone telling me, “Every day you wake up, immediately make your bed and go wash your kitchen sink.”

I thought this advice was odd, but I committed to doing those two things.

The first day I cleaned my sink, I could’ve probably cleaned the sink with just my tears. They were heavily dripping from my face.

Then as the days went by, I found myself crying less, and I felt much stronger. It’s ridiculous, but doing those two small things really made a big difference.

Seeing how much relief simply making a bed and cleaning a sink created, I decided to do more activities…even though my emotions weren’t into it.

When you go through a tough grief experience, it’s truly like you’ve been born into a new life…and you have to learn how to navigate everything around you all over again.

You navigate through the tough terrain of raw, unpredictable emotions…through the toughest days of your life…through the times you literally feel as though you can’t breathe…to learning how to live without the loved one(s) that you absolutely adored, loved, cherished, treasured, and enjoyed. You navigate through the sinking quicksand of all of the dreaded “firsts” too: the birthdays (theirs and yours), the holidays, special occasions, important events, anniversaries, vacations, and the incredibly dreaded anniversary of the death date.

It’s a true suckfest.

But then you start to realize that you don’t have to permanently say, “goodbye”…you have the choice to instead say, “I’ll see you later.”

You can find relief from your grief not just by merely investing in your own hobbies, but you can incorporate their favorite hobbies and enjoy doing some of their favorite activities in their memory and honor, too.

You also find that you don’t have to be sad when you talk about your loved one…you can fondly remember – and even smile, find joy, and laugh about– all of the fantastic, fun, and heartfelt memories you will forever hold in your heart!

Ultimately, I know my loved ones greatest wish for me (as well as their wish for all of their other loved ones) is the exact same thing I’d want for my loved ones when my time comes: they want for each of us to be happy, healthy, inspired, and whole.

And a part of feeling happy, healthy, inspired, and whole is finding activities that bring much needed relief from grief.

What activities and hobbies bring – or previously brought – your heart joy?

Which activities or hobbies of your treasured loved one would you enjoy doing in their honor and memory? What activity do you think they’d recommend you do?

What ways can you find relief from your grief this week?

Each week (or month), set aside four special appointments/times: one to do something special with just God…one for just you to do a hobby you love…one to do an activity in your loved one’s honor…and one to do something special with your remaining loved ones.

Obviously, grief will still be present as you do these activities, but as I started to do these activities, I imagined my grief was a ball. I’d set the “ball” down before I left to go invest in these four specific appointments, knowing I’d pick the ball back up once I returned.

Finding relief from your grief can truly be one of the very best gifts of strength you can give to yourself during tough times.

I know it’s been one of the best gifts I’ve given to myself during my times of grief!

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): Click here for book

❤️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

A Huge Lesson Learned From My 100 lb Friend

This entire year – especially the past few months – has been a time of learning and growing.

Sometimes, I love and enjoy learning/growing seasons. This one…eh…not so much.

It’s been painful…very, very painful.

…Yet I do appreciate seasons like these.

Anyone who reads my blog, or has been to an event I’ve spoken at, knows how much my family and I love dogs – especially our dogs.

We have really, really big dogs. Our family’s biggest dog weighs 180 lbs (and stands 6’5″ on his hind legs) and our smallest one weighs 90 lbs. Our dog in the middle weighs 100 lbs – and she’s just a puppy!

Due to the breed our puppy is, she recently had to have a gastropexy surgery, along with being spayed.

She wasn’t a happy camper.

She still isn’t.

Having the surgery saved her life…and will prevent future major agony – which could’ve potentially also caused a very painful death due to bloat.

She doesn’t see it that way. She just sees that we took her to a strange place…dropped her off…seemed to abandon her…picked her up and brought her home to teach her a new way of life for a lil bit…only to greatly limit her freedom by putting a cone around her neck and not letting her play, run, or have fun for 14 days.

To keep her incisions clean and to where she couldn’t get to them, we’ve put t-shirts on her, too….(she’s been quite the lil master of destroying cones…she’s chewed through two of them…so the t-shirt is extra protection).

Notice I said “t-shirts”…plural. Oh yes, she’s destroyed 4 t-shirts as well.

Normally a super sweet pup (well, to us she is…she thinks everyone else is an axe-murderer), she’s been miffed. Super, super miffed.

She normally trusts us 100%, but I’d say the level of trust during her recuperation was 20% at best.

You’d think she’d trust us completely because she has an incredible life and she receives tons of love and hugs. Seriously, I wish I had the life of our dogs. It’s a charmed one. She has every reason in the world to trust us.

…But…

During the time of the surgery and healing, she stopped trusting us.

As I was helping her, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity of how I treat God when going through a major grief event.

God is so good to me…

…yet I have accused Him in my heart of taking me to a strange place (grief)…dropping me off…seemingly abandoning me…picking me up just to have me learn a new way of life…only to greatly limit my freedom…and it is definitely not fun.

The same way my puppy is not trusting me…it’s sad to say there are times I’ve treated God the exact same way.

When we get to heaven, I wonder how many days God will show us (throughout our lives) when He worked for our best…preventing future heartache worse then we experienced – and we accused him of not caring. Perhaps He prevented something so much worse that we couldn’t even comprehend.

Times of grief, growing, and learning are hard…but God does care about us. He loves us. And He will make all things work together for good…when we love Him and trust His heart!

If my puppy could simply understand how much I love her…all of the great plans I have for her…the surprises I have in store for her once she’s fully healed….

….goodness, don’t you know that God wants so much more for us – and is willing to give us good gifts in the future!

Matthew 7:11, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

I’m grateful for my big puppy and the spiritual lesson God taught me through her time of recovery. God teaches me lessons through our dogs all of the time.

Just like I would never hurt our dogs or allow pain without a future purpose, I know God would never intentionally allow pain to me without a future purpose.

And sometimes, we cannot see the purpose at all…

…but God can.

Isaiah 55:6-9, Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

‭‭It’s a good reminder – and huge lesson – from my furry lil 100 lb. friend.

Prayer:

Dear Most Gracious Heavenly Father,

Thank You for each and every day of our life…the good and the bad. Sometimes, it’s difficult to trust Your heart and plans, and it’s hard to be thankful in some situations, but we know that You are good. Lord, there are so many who are hurting today. Some are grieving the death of a much-treasured loved one…some are battling addiction or have a loved one battling addiction. Some are going through divorce, adultery, or intense relationship problems. Some are weary from ongoing family or parent/child relationships. Some are experiencing deep financial issues or health issues. Some are trying to figure out how to heal from a loved one’s suicide. So many need to desperately know You are near. I pray for all who are reading this! I pray You will draw near to their heart…give them fresh hope…bring the healing they so desperately are seeking from You. If they have been praying for a loved one, I pray You will answer their heartfelt prayers! Lord, You are good…really, really good! I pray You bring healing, comfort, blessing, strength, and love to all who need it. I especially pray You will show everyone a fresh, new revelation of You and Your incredible love!

I ask this in the powerful Name of Jesus, Amen!

Today, seek God’s heart. Camp out in God’s Word (I especially love Psalms and Proverbs during times of grief). Get to know God for yourself. Take time to delight in God. Pour your heart out to Him. Entrust your situation into His hands.

He is for you. He loves you. He will never leave you. He is the ultimate Comforter.

Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who have been called according to His purpose.

Wishing everyone a good weekend!

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2019 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:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

❤️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. 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.

Healing From Pet Loss ~ Part 3

This post is a continuation of a series on pet loss I started writing last year.

Most of my readers know that our family experienced the death of our much loved two year-old puppy last Spring. I never could get myself to write about his last day before today, because it was – and sometimes still is – very painful.

If you haven’t read Parts 1 & 2 of this series, I’ll start by sharing about our family’s relationship with our sweet puppy and how we rescued him…and how he rescued us.

At the very end of this post, I will give 20 important tips that can help you tremendously regarding the euthanasia of your treasured pet. There are some lessons my family and I learned the hard way and it is my hope to help others prevent the same (and even unnecessary) pain we experienced.

You can read this entire post in one sitting, break it up into a few reading sessions, or you can feel free to skip down to the 20 tips if you are short on time.

Before I get started, I’d like to share my heart by saying that I realize by writing about pet loss, I run the risk of a non-pet lover rolling their eyes (I used to do the same, so no worries)…and I also may be criticized by those who are experiencing human loss. I’d like to assure my Grief Bites readers that I am not saying pet loss is worse than losing a human being. To some, it totally may be worse; to others it may not be. Each and every grief experience is unique and completely different – no two people will go through or experience grief the same way. Whether it is a human being or a pet, this is truth every griever can agree on: The greater the investment, the greater the love…and the greater the love, the greater the grief.

Now to continue, here is how our new puppy was introduced into our lives and how he forever changed our lives and hearts:

For my son’s Christmas present of 2014, all he wanted was a puppy. I wasn’t a dog person at the time. I didn’t even like dogs.

But there I was, granting my son his Christmas wish: a new puppy.

My son had asked me if I would be willing to puppy-sit and help train his new puppy for him, as he worked 10 hours a day and my job is much more flexible since I can work from home. I immediately said yes since it meant I’d get to see my son every day.

When we took my son’s new puppy to the veterinarian for his first checkup, he noticed a few things about our new puppy. The puppy had been abused and was only three weeks old…not eight weeks old like we had been told. The vet noticed our puppy had an injured paw and had little cuts on his head. We hadn’t noticed until the vet pulled back our puppy’s fur.

The lady we had rescued the puppy from told us he was eight weeks old…among other mistruths. We would later come to realize through our vet that this lady had been reported several dozen times for intentionally harming puppies. My heart absolutely went out to this precious, fluffy, sweet puppy as I looked at his scars. Who abuses helpless puppies…and what on earth had he endured the few weeks he had been with her? Our family would find out in just two years that the lady had created the perfect storm for our puppy getting cancer.

After getting the new puppy, I can’t explain it, but my heart absolutely melted. Other than family and close friends, I don’t think I’ve ever loved anyone as much as this puppy. We instantly bonded.

We had our set routine every single day. After my son dropped the puppy off at our house, I’d snuggle with that tiny puppy every morning. It was Christmas time and I was working on an important writing assignment. The puppy was so little, maybe 3 or 4 pounds when we got him. That sweet puppy would gently rest on my shoulder, snuggling so close to my neck and heart, as I researched and did my writing assignments.

The Christmas lights on the trees were aglow in our living room, peaceful Christmas music filled the air, and the preciousness of snuggling with him…and that sweet puppy breath🤗💕…everything was pure bliss! I ended up keeping all of the Christmas decorations up until the end of February because I was enjoying the atmosphere so much with my new furry friend.

Our family was going through a terrible grief experience at the time, and the addition of this new puppy brought so much life back into our lives.

After our snuggle time while I was writing, I would take a few hours to take the puppy on a walk, play with him, and train him. I was absolutely surprised how close I got to this puppy and how much fun we were having! Since the vet had told us how he was abused, I made it my mission to help the puppy understand our family was safe. I wanted him to feel so loved and treasured. Every afternoon, I’d give the puppy a little massage on his back, ears, and paws so he would trust that our hands would never hurt him. After that, he would fall asleep on my lap for about two hours as I took phone calls for work.

We were absolutely inseparable during the day. If I had to leave, I’d even take him with me. Everybody at our bank and our local Starbucks knew our puppy and would get him a dog treat or a puppuccino – a special puppy treat Starbucks offers complimentarily. In the middle of the day, I also took the puppy to see my son at my son’s workplace on his lunch break to strengthen their bond.

As the puppy grew, my love for him grew deeper and stronger too. My appreciation and respect for the puppy grew as well. I had seen how this puppy loved my son back to life. I saw my son go from a deep depression … to smiling and laughing again. My heart will forever be grateful to this sweet puppy for helping our family through that hard time.

God also used that little puppy to heal my heart. As my heart deeply grieved for my son because of all he had been through, and also throughout my dad’s cancer and another grief situation, that little puppy would lick the tears off of my face and get me to smile. He was just so intelligent and intuitive.

As time passed, the puppy seemed to make it his life mission to protect our family, deeply love our family, and it seemed that he wanted to show his gratitude to us for saving him out of his own terrible situation as much as he was helping us through our situation. I’d often look at our puppy and wonder, “who rescued who?”

Our puppy didn’t just love us, he loved us with his entire heart and being. When he would snuggle with us, it was like he was trying to melt his very body into our chests. He didn’t just want to be on our lap, he wanted to be as close to us as he possibly could be. Sometimes, he would snuggle into our necks and it would feel so soft and furry as he enveloped and intertwined his neck into ours. From the time he was a mere three pounds, all the way up to his full weight of 90 pounds, he loved being a lap dog!

When any of us would arrive home, he would greet us at the door and shake his entire body. His little wiggle was so cute! He’d be so happy to see us, that he would let out the sweetest cry as if to say, “Finally! You’re home! Come spend time with me!”… even if we had only been gone for 5 minutes to get our mail.

Our family had the most extraordinary relationship with this precious puppy. I never in my wildest dreams would ever have thought that a puppy could love us so much and that we would love a puppy as much as a human being. We enjoyed such a special bond!

That’s why it hurt so very bad when we found out he had cancer.

I also think one of the many reasons we loved him so much is because we had fought so hard even before the cancer to save him several times from euthanasia. One of his vets had requested three different times for us to have him euthanized. He had some behavioral issues that we had to correct in specialized training classes and his life medically was intense. He constantly had vet appointments because he had such terrible allergies and skin allergies due to not having his immune system built up (since he was taken away from his mom too soon). We poured a tremendous amount of care into him to keep him happy, healthy, and whole, even bottle feeding him when we first got him. Our love for him certainly developed as we took care of him.

When we found out he had cancer, we were beyond crushed! We were actually at one of his dog training classes when we first noticed something was amiss. The trainer thought our puppy had gotten some gravel embedded in his paw. He was limping but we couldn’t see any gravel. I wondered if maybe he had a sprain due to the agility work that he had done. He had just won 1st place at an agility competition…he loved his training classes and loved his agility work so much.

We took our puppy to the vet and they requested to keep our puppy and do x-rays. They called and asked us to come back in, so we did. The vet said she had very bad news. I was thinking she was just going to say he sprained or broke his paw and would need surgery. Instead, she told us he had a very aggressive cancer called osteosarcoma…and that he only had three months to live. I felt like I couldn’t breathe…did I really just hear what the vet had said? My son and I started crying. Even my husband (who isn’t very emotional) cried. We couldn’t believe what we were being told. How does a young, spritely, 2 year-old puppy get cancer? The vet explained he had old scarring in the paw that had the cancer and that it had never healed – and that’s how the cancer formed. I remembered right then what all the original vet had told us about the lady we got him from…I also remembered that the lady said she kicked our puppy away from the trash multiple times for getting into it. She said he had been nothing but trouble to her.

We ended up taking our puppy to two other vets – one, an oncologist – hoping to save him. The oncologist said that a popular drug that was prescribed to our puppy for his skin allergies was a major cancer causer as well. She said majority of her canine and feline patients had previously used this commonly prescribed medicine. She believed that his previously injured paw had been compromised, the cancer set in, and the drug accelerated the cancer.

Being told by the oncologist that our puppy’s cancer was preventable greatly upset me. I was very angry at the lady we got our puppy from for abusing him and I was also upset that a pet pharmaceutical company knew the high risk and incidents of cancer … yet still put the drug out — knowing it was going to harm pets. (My next post will share the dangers and solutions to creating the ultimate health for pets…especially in regards to cancer…we learned so much!)

We tried very hard to save our puppy. I truly believe we could have, but unfortunately, our puppy was exposed to a common virus that he just couldn’t beat. After showing great promise and rapidly getting better on the treatments we were giving him…he went downhill just as quick. We ultimately had to do the right thing for him…which was euthanasia. We owed it to him after everything he had done for family. We were not about to let him suffer.

We made the dreaded phone call every pet owner hates to make…we set up the appointment for his euthanasia.

As the time came for his euthanasia, I literally thought my heart was going to break. He continued a downward spiral, and it was heartbreaking. He was perfectly housebroken and crate trained…it literally only took me about two weeks to potty train him. He had a perfect record in our home. As I saw him “piddle” on the floor, he looked up at me and was so ashamed. It broke my heart that his dignity was compromised. He began sleeping a lot more. You’ll never know much I missed his energetic, fun-loving, spritely personality that he vibrantly spread all over our home.

He could no longer jump up on the couch, so he would quietly lay down on his bed and sleep. I would gently lay on the floor beside him, holding him – never wanting to let him go, and would kiss his cheek and head, as I sang his favorite songs to him (Penny Lane by The Beatles, I’ll Be Home For Christmas by Michael Bublé, and Ho Hey by the Lumineers…he would “sing” these songs anytime we played them).

The day of the euthanasia came, and my son and I decided that we were going to give his puppy the very best day of his life. We agreed that we were not going to show our sadness or have him around any crying.

We woke up and took my son’s puppy to all of his favorite places and let him eat all of his favorite foods that we’d previously let him only have a tiny bite of, as well as the bad food we never allowed him to eat. We also took him to get some toys and had one last photo session done at his favorite place – the park. We also snuggled with him a lot! We tried to give him the very best day possible and he was so very happy all day.

We picked up some sedatives from our vet the day before so he would be as calm and relaxed as possible when he arrived for his appointment.

We arrived at the appointment, expecting a calm, peaceful, and as gentle as possible euthanasia.

We received anything but that.

We arrived at the vet and was placed into a private room with our puppy. The vet also suggested that we bring our other dog who was extremely close to our puppy. We kept our third dog at home at the vet’s request. So the puppy, our other dog, my son, and I were all in this little room…and my husband was on FaceTime so he could also “be there” since he was out of town. The vet came in and explained how euthanasia works. The vet assured us that we would have time with our puppy before she stopped his heart with the final shot.

They then told us that they were about to take him to another room to insert an IV into his paw so they could administer the medications in that way. We had told them which paw had the cancer.

As they led our puppy to another room away from us, we heard him crying out in horrendous pain several times. It seriously made me wince.

After they brought him back into the room, to our horror, we saw that they had put his IV in his sore paw that had cancer. I can’t even imagine how excruciatingly painful that was for him to have a needle shoved into his tumor. Our puppy had been guarding that paw the last three months…he wouldn’t even allow us to touch it.

Our puppy at that point was highly anxious and was highly guarding his paw. After about 10 minutes of the vet and vet tech trying to force our dog to be okay with letting them touch his bad paw, I asked them to stop and asked if they could insert the IV in his good paw. They reluctantly did and our puppy came back looking hurt and worn out. He was also in defense mode. Instead of taking the time to calm our puppy down, the vet and vet tech ended up being rough with him. The vet on his right put one restraining leash on him and the vet tech on his other side put another restraining leash on him – our puppy was freaking out. It seriously reminded me of a video I had seen of a frightened, chained elephant on his hind legs trying to be controlled at a circus. As our puppy became more bewildered and confused, looking up at us as if to say, “why is this happening to me?” … the vet and vet tech slapped a muzzle on him.

We had never euthanized a pet, so in our shock, we didn’t know what to do.

In hindsight, I wish we had immediately called off the euthanasia, left, and went to another vet. Never having done this before though, we just didn’t know better. My guilt was excruciating in the days and months after the euthanasia. I felt like I had majorly let our puppy down.

The euthanasia got worse. My son and I were promised time with our puppy to say our goodbyes. We each wanted to have time to hold him while he was alive…to talk to him and snuggle him one last time.

Our wishes were totally not honored.

Thankfully, my son had gotten on the floor and was holding his puppy to comfort him…or our puppy would have died without feeling comfort, peace, or security.

The vet then administered all shots at the same time…and our puppy went limp within 20 seconds and was dead within a minute. I will never forget the loud cry my son made when he realized his dog – his very best friend who had been his everything the last 2 years – suddenly (and unexpectedly) went limp and died in his arms. When my son realized his dog was dead, and he didn’t get to say his goodbyes, my heart broke for him as I saw the anguish and regret in his face.

The vet then said to our deceased puppy, “you’ll never have to wear a muzzle again!” and walked out of the room. He had only worn a muzzle twice during his entire lifetime so I didn’t understand why she said something so heartless and thoughtless like that. As hard as my son was crying, and with my own face flooded with tears, the lack of empathy surprised me. The vet tech did come back in and apologized for what had transpired, but the damage was already done.

It was a bad situation. I know that the vet and vet tech are both very good at what they do, but I didn’t like how our puppy’s last moments in life were filled with pain, anxiety, and chaos…especially since we worked so hard to give him the very last gift we could give him – a peaceful life exit.

After we were left alone with our sweet puppy, I quietly said my goodbyes to him as I got on the floor and held him. As his death sunk in, I began to miss him so very much! I kissed his cheek and deeply inhaled the smell of his fur as I pressed my face into his soft neck. I told him “thank you” for loving my son back to life and for loving our family so very well. As I was leaving the room, my heart broke into a million pieces. I couldn’t handle the pain. I hugged my son and left the room so he could have time with his best friend to say his goodbyes.

This entire situation deeply broke our family’s hearts, and the regrets we felt in the days after the euthanasia were terrible.

It took me awhile to write this post because every time I’d start to write about this, I’d start crying. I cried today as I wrote it. There are some pets who make such an incredible impact in your heart and life that “goodbye” becomes truly unbearable.

Our family could never replicate the special relationship we built with this puppy because we deeply bonded with him during one of the toughest seasons of our lives. He kissed (licked) away our tears, brought us so much joy, and loved us so very well! God really blessed us when he gave us Titan!

I read a blog post right after our puppy died where the author said about her dog (a German Shepherd named Hugo): “To me, he was a person in a dog suit, a special being who opened my heart as it has never been opened before. Because of him, I know I am forever changed for the better.” ~Lisa Plummer Savas

When I read that, it brought tears to my eyes because that is exactly how I felt about our puppy…he was a person in a dog suit who opened my heart in a beautiful way that had never been opened before. He made our family – all of us – better. We loved better after knowing him. I used to not even like dogs. Now, I love and adore all animals! I “get it” now.

I truly hope our story helps others to not make the same mistakes we made…and to be very proactive if (and when) the time comes to euthanize your much-loved pet.

⭐️Here are my tips for creating a peaceful euthanasia:

1. Talk to the vet you would like to perform the euthanasia. Ask them what their protocol and timeline is…in great detail…for a euthanasia.

2. Ask the vet how long you can spend with your pet in between the shot that completely sedates them and the shot that actually stops their heart.

3. Ask for sedatives to give to calm your pet (before you leave to go to the appointment) so your pet will be most relaxed at the euthanasia. You usually pick these sedatives up the day before. The sedatives may also prevent your pet from twitching or taking a final deep breath which can startle you as your pet passes away.

4. Know that whatever outfit you wear to the euthanasia might remind you of that very sad day. I couldn’t wear the outfit I wore on the day of the euthanasia for almost a year…it was very painful to see that outfit.

5. Give your pet a super great “one last day.” It could be a day like I described or simply a quiet day at home enjoying your pet. Be sure to take pictures or have a photo session done with your pet. Whatever you think is a perfect, special day for your pet is what you should do. When I think back to our puppy’s last day of food, fun, and snuggles, my heart smiles at the joy he experienced. I’ll never forget how happy he looked all day, on his last day with us.

6. When you take your pet in to be euthanized, remind your vet about the conversation you had with them (when you talked to the vet about the amount of time you would have to spend with your pet, in between the two shots). Remind the vet and every tech you come into contact with of your wishes. When they administer the first shot, remind them again of your wish to have time with your pet before they are deceased.

7. Euthanize your pet on a Friday. You’ll have two whole days before you have to go back to work or school. Consider taking vacation days too. My boss was exceptionally kind to me…he had recently experienced his dog’s death and gave me three weeks off. He also said he’d extend it if needed. I will forever be grateful to him for being so understanding.

8. Consider where you want the euthanasia to take place. You can have your pet euthanized at the vet, inside your home, or at their favorite place in your backyard. In hindsight, I wish we had euthanized our puppy in his favorite place in our backyard and then planted a tree to remember him by.

9. Ask your vet what options you have for your deceased pet’s body. We were told we had the following options: allow the veterinarian office to dispose of his body…we could take him home and bury him…we could take him to a crematory…we could have our dog buried at a pet cemetery…or we could allow the vet’s office to take him to a crematory and they would return our puppy’s ashes to us for a fee. We ended up choosing the last option and selected a beautiful urn for his ashes. We wanted him home with us.

10. Consider what will be best for your emotions when you return home from the euthanasia: do you want your pet’s belongings to be out or do you want to pre-pack them and place them in a room, attic, or in your garage? We chose to leave them out where they had always been…but it was very painful to see all of his belongings once we got home – and realize he’d never be there again. I placed all of his belongings (his most loved toys, his favorite blanket, favorite bag of treats, all of his cancer/prescription meds/supplements, and his collar/leash inside his crate and shut the crate door so our other dogs wouldn’t get into any of it. I still have his crate out and finally feel – a year later – as though it’s time to move it into our attic. I had told our puppy every single night, “Goodnight little baby, I love you!”…it was comforting to still say that every night even though I knew he wasn’t there.

11. I greatly underestimated how upset and sad I’d be after our dog’s death. Consider having a trusted family member or trusted friend safely drive you home from the euthanasia. My mom and sister knew what vet we were going to and came up there unannounced right after the euthanasia. I was so very grateful that they showed up. It was really good to have their compassion and support.

12. Have some easy meals – easy to prepare or already prepared – for when you get home (pizza, cereal and milk, frozen waffles, fruit, soup, cheese and crackers, salad, etc.). You may not feel like eating, but if you do get hungry, you’ll appreciate having something quick and simple already prepared.

13. Sign any necessary paperwork and pay your bill before the euthanasia. Feel free to decide the aftercare after the euthanasia though. We decided the final plans for our puppy’s body right after he was euthanized. I’m thankful we waited until afterwards to decide his aftercare because we changed our minds. We considered having him be taken to a pet cemetery, but the finality of the situation hit and we decided we wanted his ashes at home with us.

14. Bring items you know will provide your dog with extra comfort…such as a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, and/or toy. Make the experience as comfortable as you possibly can.

15. Our vet said to bring our other dog. I really wish we hadn’t. Our other dog was super anxious and he didn’t handle it well. It brought a sadness to the mix that made the situation tougher. If you don’t bring other pets, you can exclusively focus and pour all of your attention onto the pet you are saying your goodbyes to.

16. Understand that your pet’s eyes may stay open after they die. They also may urinate or defecate after they pass away as well. We had our dog potty before we left the house and also right before we entered the vet’s building. We also wrapped our puppy in a comfy blanket too. We were not prepared for his eyes staying open after he died and the vet or the vet tech didn’t shut them. We didn’t expect that. Talk to your vet about these issues beforehand so you’ll know what to expect and to also prevent any unnecessary bad memories.

17. Realize that no matter what you do or how perfectly you plan your pet’s last days and euthanasia, you may experience extreme guilt. We did everything we could to save our puppy…got him the best care, loved him extremely well, gave him a fantastic life and wonderful last day, and took the time to pre-plan a perfect euthanasia where he’d be comfortable and at peace…yet we fell short. Guilt – and questions – haunted my heart for several months…”what if we had taken him to get a 4th vet’s opinion?”…”why didn’t we stop and leave the euthanasia after we saw how frightened he was?”…”could we have done more?”…”did we do the euthanasia too soon or did we do it too late into his cancer?”…”why didn’t I sleep in the living room with him the night before?”…”did we do everything we could have done?” My thoughts and guilt wouldn’t quit. It took me months to gain some much needed peace. The fact is, you can do all the right things, and plan as much as you can, but that in no way 100% assures that everything will go as planned or turn out as you hope it will. Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to fully grieve. Cry if you need to…I cried almost every day for 11 months since I missed him so very badly. Realize that your pet is so very grateful for the terrific life you gave them and how well you loved them! Please go easy on yourself and know that majority of pet owners will experience some very tough emotions…as well as guilt…after a euthanasia.

18. Remember the amazing love and incredible lessons you shared and received from your beloved pet…and know that your pet absolutely loved and adored you! If they could tell you “thank you” in a letter, it’d probably be 1000 pages long! You made their life so very meaningful…their best days were when they were with you!

19. After you euthanize your pet, consider planting a memorial tree or garden in their honor. You can also place a bench, chair, or hammock by the tree or garden so you can sit down and reflect on your time with your pet.

20. Take care of yourself and be gentle with your heart. Grief is extremely tough and can wreck havoc on your health. Take the time to intentionally relax. Do something that brings your heart peace and joy. Surround yourself with loved ones. Start a journal and write down your thoughts and feelings. If you live with a spouse, child, or your family, comfort and help each other. Most importantly, share your heart, grief, and feelings with God. God sure was faithful in helping me each and every day … especially on my worst days!

I’ll never forget that very extraordinary, sweet, exceptionally special, 90 pound fluffy fur baby of ours. He blessed our lives with so much love, fun, and joy! I’ll always remember him and love him!❤️🐶🐾

I hope this blog post and these 20 tips are helpful to all who read them. And I truly hope and pray that if you are in the heartbreaking position of having to plan your treasured pet’s euthanasia, that God will bless you and your pet’s last days together.

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim🐾💕🐾

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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For more encouragement:

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

🐾Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

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🐕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