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!💗
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, that 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 going through multiple grief experiences – and my sister had just experienced the death of her fiancé.
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 a few days before Christmas
- 2 family members – one from my side of the family and one from my husband’s side – died on the same day
- my husband betrayed me and our marriage crumbled almost to the point of divorce
- I had two cancer scares 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)
- key family relationships I dearly loved deeply changed
- a loved one battled major addiction
- our family experienced deep wounding and hurt from our church … not just a little hurt – a pastor we went to for counsel said it was the worst thing he’d ever heard of church staff doing to a family
- a friend committed suicide
- a friend died
- a family member committed suicide
- I became extremely ill. 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 grandmother (who lived with us after my dad’s death) died a few years later
- after my mom remarried, we moved twice within months
- our home completely flooded the week of Christmas and we lost everything. We ended up living in a motel for several months
- my step-grandmother unfairly rejected and mistreated my mom, 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
- A traumatic event happened and I was admitted to the hospital in ICU where I almost died (my sister saved my life)
- my high school boyfriend died
- I was in an abusive relationship in high school
- a 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 away from us for two years
- 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.
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
⭐️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.