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Day 2 ~ Hope For The Holidays

Day 2

How do you find and experience hope when you feel completely void of all hope during the holidays?

After going through my sister’s death on Thanksgiving, experiencing a boyfriend’s death over Christmas break, losing my grandmother Valentine’s Day weekend, losing another grandmother two days before Christmas, and then years later, going through my other sister’s fiancé’s death on Easter, I didn’t feel very hope-filled. The holidays surrounding their deaths were very painful. I struggled to find any hope at all, due to intense heartache.

Whether you are feeling hopeless due to a loved one’s death, or you are going through a life challenging loss (such as a divorce, marriage/family conflict, illness, financial difficulties, job loss, or other heartbreaking event), please know that God truly does love you and deeply cares about you.

God genuinely understands what you are going through and wants to offer you His healing touch. He ultimately desires to shower you with His extravagant love and incredible HOPE!

But how do you find God’s hope and experience it fully?

Start by asking God to heal your heart…ask Him to infuse you with His hope and strength that only comes from Him…ask Him to drench you in His amazing love, compassion, and grace!

Ask God to specifically carry you through the holidays and to deeply minister to your heart!

Read God’s word daily and ask Him to powerfully speak to your heart as He gently comforts your hurting heart and spirit.

No matter what you are going through, God deeply cares about your heartache, so seek God this holiday season, and always, with all of your heart!

You WILL find God—and His fresh brand new HOPE—when you search for Him with all of your heart! He promises you will. God’s mercies are new every single morning so ask Him for them!

God is a true Friend. He is here for you and He will help you through the holidays! May His love comfort you and hug your heart on the days you need it most!

Prayer:

“Dear Jesus, thank you for hope! I ask specifically for you to give us the good gift of hope and allow us to find and experience your hope and peace to the fullest.

I ask You to bless our hearts with Your healing touch and shower us with Your love. Father, will You please heal our hurting hearts and carry us through this holiday season? I pray You will powerfully speak to each of our hearts and spirits as we seek Your heart (and guidance) and read Your precious Word. Please grant us Your new mercies every morning and please comfort our souls each and every day. Thank You for being our truest Friend! We treasure and adore You and are so very grateful for Your friendship! We love You, Lord! In Your precious Name we pray, amen.”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

~Jeremiah 29:11-13

“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.”

~Lamentations 3:20-25

From the YouVersion reading plan, Grief Bites: Hope for the Holidays. This devotional ©2015 by Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved. Used by permission. https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

©2021 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.

⭐️❤️Be sure to “follow” the Grief Bites page on Facebook so you won’t miss any holiday encouragement! We’ll be posting encouraging quotes, recipes, excerpts from holiday reading plans, special songs, ideas of how to lovingly remember & honor your treasured loved ones, and holiday tips and advice from those who have experienced grief during the holidays.

We look forward to encouraging you!❤️

Day 1 ~ Hope For The Holidays

🍂🎄❤️ Good morning, Grief Bites family! We are now officially into the holiday season. Thank you so much for allowing us the privilege of bringing hope to you throughout the holidays. Today’s encouragement comes from Day 1 of our YouVersion reading plan, Grief Bites: Hope for the Holidays. I hope this encourages your heart!

Day 1

Ahh, the holidays! A time where the colorful Fall leaves remind us that Thanksgiving is on it’s way and the anticipation of Christmas is right around the corner. A time when everyone is filled with thankfulness, love, family harmony, and joy, right?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for everyone— especially those who have lost a loved one, those who are going through the loss of a major relationship or experiencing family conflict, or those who are experiencing other great loss, life challenges, and heartaches.

Growing up, I always loved holidays and greatly looked forward to them.
When my 22 year-old sister died on Thanksgiving Day, instead of the holidays being “the most wonderful time  of the year,” the holidays became a dreaded and most challenging time of year.

How do you find hope during the holiday season?

How can you create special memories this holiday season with loved ones when you feel discouraged or your heart is breaking?

Is joy even possible during the holiday season…especially in the midst of intense grief?

How can you honor treasured loved ones who are now celebrating the holidays in Heaven with God?

How can you create meaningful holidays that are filled with peace, regardless of what’s happening in life?

Please join me the next few days as I answer these questions and more.

“Heavenly Father,
I pray for all who are hurting around the holidays — especially this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Please bring healing to each precious person and deeply comfort their hurting heart. Please shower them with Your grace and mercy each and every day. Hold them in Your loving arms and carry them through their grief experience…especially on their toughest days. In Jesus Name, Amen!”

“Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭116:2‬

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬

This devotional ©2015 by Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

I hope this encouraged your heart! Day 2 will be posted tomorrow. For more holiday encouragement, feel free to “follow” our page: https://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

❤️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 “following” 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.

The Very Best Time You Can Spend Today – It Can TOTALLY Make A Difference!

🎄❤️🎄Good afternoon!
Today is a great topic (and so very needed in the world today)! Hope it encourages your heart and enriches lives!

As you read this, consider who you can do this for!💕

Have you ever received a note or word of kindness or thankfulness?

One time, I spoke at a school and shared my testimony. A few days later, I received dozens of homemade cards sharing many kind words to tell me, “thank you,” for speaking at their school. My heart was beautifully overwhelmed with gratitude!

Life-giving words of affirmation are so very important – spoken or written.
When people take the time to pour into the hearts of others, it makes the recipient’s heart happy – but more importantly, it blesses God’s heart, too!

When I was in college, God blessed me with the idea to write notes of gratitude to anyone who had invested in my heart or life.
As I sat down and made a list, I included Jesus, my parents, grandparents, siblings, other family members, good friends, all of my teachers and professors, my Sunday School teachers, pastors, youth group leaders, previous and current employers, the doctors who saved my life when I was 12 and 17…anyone who had benefited my life, invested in me, or poured their heart and prayers into my life.
I received several letters back and was very surprised when many shared I was the only one who ever wrote to thank them for their kindness or investment.

So many are truly thankful for how others have blessed their life or invested in them, yet we assume others understand how grateful we are without sharing our gratitude with them.

Who can you write a beautiful note of gratitude to today? Who can you call or visit to say, “thank you,” or share with them how much you love them and care about them?

Thankfulness, notes of gratitude, and words of affirmation and blessings are all beautiful, priceless gifts we can give to Jesus, our spouse, children, parents, family, friends, educators, doctors, those we know in the military, people who serve us in our communities — everyone.

Let’s take some time to truly thank Jesus for all of the great people, blessings, and things we have in our life!

Never miss an opportunity to pour the extra special blessing of thankfulness and words of affirmation into the lives of others!

🙏🏻Prayer: “Jesus, thank You so much for all of the love, words of affirmation and blessings You pour into our lives! We also thank You for the many times people have invested in us, raised us, prayed for us, poured into our hearts and lives, educated us, taught us how to love and serve You, sacrificed for us, helped us, and all of the other ways people have contributed to our lives! I pray a special blessing right now for those who have done this for us and our families. Jesus, please help us to live lives of love, thankfulness, and gratitude. Help us to truly see how much those around us pour into our lives, love us, and care enough to bless, help, and encourage us through life‘s events. May we never take anyone, anything, or any act of love, concern, care, kindness or investment for granted – and may we never fail to give proper thanks to You and others. Jesus, please place on our hearts the names of people You want us to write a letter of gratitude to, and please also place the names of people You would like for us to call to tell them a heartfelt “thanks.” Who needs to hear positivity, love, and encouragement from us today?Also – saying “sorry” to those we have wronged and asking for forgiveness is a powerful act of gratefulness, kindness, affirmation, and love — it shows someone we truly value their heart. Please show us who we need to apologize to today.
Help us to be people of extreme gratitude and extravagant love! We love You! In Your precious name we pray, Amen!”

⭐️Activity #1: thank Jesus for all of the good He has blessed you with, and is currently blessing you with, in your life! Write a beautiful letter of gratitude to Him! Share with others how good Jesus is!

⭐️Activity #2: make a list of all of the people throughout your lifetime who have invested in your heart, spiritual walk, education, health, and life….anyone who has invested or sacrificed so you could have a better life…anyone who has encouraged you during a time of stress, heartache, and grief…anyone who has gone out of their way to make your life better. Write or call them today to say, “thank you!”

⭐️Activity #3: reach out to your loved ones who are going through grief. Ask God for ideas for loving and encouraging your loved ones today.

⭐️Activity #4: if you have children, nieces, nephews, or little people in your life (this is also great to do for the big kiddos in your life, too!), consider giving them the gift of a daily spoken blessing. I’ve continually spoken a specific verse vocally to my son…I’d rub my tummy and say this blessing to him while he was in my womb, and randomly say this scripture blessing out loud to him throughout his life (Numbers 6:24-26).
You can choose a specific Bible verse as a blessing or just use loving, positive words of encouragement. Loving words of blessing and encouragement are one of the most powerful gifts you can give to loved ones!💕
(If it feels weird to give loved ones spoken blessings, just tell them you’re starting a new tradition. They’ll love it!)

❤️Read: Numbers 6:24-26, Colossians 3:16-17, Psalms 9:1, Philippians 4:6-7, Psalms 100:4, Psalms 103:1-5

(From the YouVersion reading plan Experiencing the Holidays with Jesus: Christmas. This devotional © 2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

🎄💕🎄

🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️

©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.

Always Be Kind…Here’s Why.

“Be kind.”

We’re always told to be kind. In fact, I imagine everyone was taught this as a child.

Yet many don’t take the time to truly contemplate the importance of kindness.

Just look at social media – it is overrun with unkindness.

Yet…

You never know what people are privately going through…you never know when it will be someone’s last breath.


You’re guaranteed this: one day, with each person you’re close to, it’ll be your last conversation with them…and you won’t even know it at the time.

So be the kindness, love, respect and compassion you want to receive.

Be mindful – so very mindful – of kindness…especially in your closest relationships.

…the people you love

…the people who love you

…especially the people who have proven beyond any shadow of doubt they love you.

The ones who have stood by you after everyone else walked away…

…the people who believed in you when no one else did

…the people who encouraged you when no one else would

…the people who deeply pray for you consistently

…because all of these people are exquisite gifts loaned to you by God.

Loaned. Meaning, you never know when God will need them back.

Treat your loved ones right.

Have conversations you won’t regret or be ashamed of at a later date.

Set aside time this holiday season to reach out to your loved ones and tell them…

…you love them.

…you care about them.

…how important they are to you.

…that you’re always there for them.

…and thank them for being there for you and loving you so well all the times they have.

And above all, always love your loved ones so very well and always be extra kind.

Because just like you have had hard times in life and you never shared it with your loved ones so they wouldn’t worry…

…the people you love most may be going through a hard time and you not even know it for the same reason.

So always, always, always be kind.

I’ve talked with many grievers who have such heartbreaking guilt and regrets after a loved one died…

…words left unsaid.

…words spoken that were unkind.

…last conversations that were less than ideal.

…texts/phone calls that were deliberately ignored.

…pride or embarrassment that kept families from truly working things out.

Nobody ever weighs the consequences of unkindness…until the time comes and you can’t undo it.

Also, children watch how parents behave and treat others. I’ve seen parents in deep grief after their children grew up and now treat the parents in similar ways they’ve seen them treat other family members and others. Character – whether good or bad – is more caught, than taught.

So starting today…

Forgive others…

Forgive yourself…

Be kind…

Love your family extraordinarily well…

Treasure those God has placed in your life…

…Choose to do better.

When their last breath or your last breath comes, you’ll know you intentionally treasured, loved, and treated each other with love, compassion, respect, and kindness…and gave the very best you absolutely could give.

Each day, your legacy of kindness is in the making. Make each day a great one worth remembering.

It could literally make all the difference in the world.💕

May all of you have a blessed Thanksgiving!🍂🧡🍂

Gratitude & 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://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.

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.

🎄❤️🎄

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, 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.

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.

Grief & Holidays—helpful tip #7

Christmas week carries so many tough emotions for those who are grieving. Emotions such as heartache, fear, anxiety, dread, and bittersweetness can be overwhelming. It’s so important to allow family and close friends to help you and comfort you.

Today’s tip for the holidays is:

Allow yourself the gift of receiving help, comfort, love, and encouragement.

  • Allow people to hug you
  • Allow others to help you through your grief 
  • Allow others to run errands for you
  • Allow others to spend time with you
  • Allow others to make the holiday dinner if you don’t feel up to it this year 
  • Allow others to help you send out thank you notes for any kindness others have done or do
  • Allow others to help you shop
  • Allow others to comfort and encourage you
  • Allow those closest to you to know how you’re truly feeling and doing

This is just a short list. Each person who grieves will know what they are comfortable – or uncomfortable – allowing others to do.

Grief is extremely hard work. Be kind to yourself and others – and know that nobody fully has grief all figured out. Grief is like a puzzle and each griever has to figure out what pieces to use so they can rebuild their heart, life, and traditions. One of the puzzle pieces is allowing others to help, comfort, encourage, and offer you their love, condolences, encouragement, and support.

Whatever help or encouragement you allow this holiday season, I truly hope your heart cared for and comforted.

May everybody have a blessed Christmas week!

Gratitude & blessings,
🎄Kim

©2015 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. 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.

🎄❤️🎄