Healing From Pet Loss ~ Part 1

Have you ever had a pet you greatly treasured? Pets are amazing! They are so much fun – and so very rewarding! Pets also provide a multitude of health benefits to their owners as well.

As the months and years go by, a very close bond develops with our pets. They brighten our days and make life richer…better.

I always say that pets, especially dogs, are God’s way of making up for all of the bad stuff we go through in life. They unconditionally love us, fiercely protect us, and provide sweet companionship.

There are two days a pet owner will never forget. The day we met our precious furry friend…and the day our much-loved pet passes away.

Pet loss is inevitable. In fact, I bet you currently know a family member or friend who is going through the heartbreaking loss of a pet right now.

I’ll be writing a series of blog posts over pet loss the next few days because I think it is a topic that can help others. Life offers so many rich lessons. I always love learning from others and I hope the lessons I share will help someone who is going through a similar situation.

Someone sent me a great quote about pet loss. I’d like to start this post by sharing it:

“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

Today, I’ll be sharing about our family’s recent death of our two year-old puppy. The next blog post, I’ll be sharing tips of how to help a loved one after their pet dies. The third post in this series will be about creating a peaceful experience with your pet’s euthanasia…and very important pitfalls to watch out for and prevent. And the fourth post will be about pet health, which will also include prevention, treatment, and breakthroughs of cancer in pets.

I know 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 truly 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 in the same way. Whether it is a human being or a pet, this is absolute truth every griever can agree on: The greater the investment, the greater the love…and the greater the love, the greater the grief.

I sincerely hope this series on pet loss is a great comfort to anyone who is mourning their much-loved pet, and it is my prayer these posts are not offensive to anyone in the grief community.❤️

Here’s a little background into my (and my family’s) experiences with our pets…and the heartbreaking death we recently went through. This will be a longer blog post than normal, but I know my animal-loving readers will appreciate the background for my upcoming posts.

Our family had mostly outdoor pets while I was growing up…6 dogs and a cat who had kittens. I never formed a super close attachment to majority of these pets – with the exception of my cat – because they either died while they were young or they were primarily outdoor pets, with my dad being the primary caregiver to them. I was close to them, and I definitely cried when they each passed away, but their deaths just were not as intense of a grief experience as losing one of our current indoor dogs this year.

After my senior year of high school, when my cocker spaniel died, I never got another pet until my husband and I bought a Persian kitten as a Christmas gift for our son when he was four years-old. My son ended up being deathly allergic to cats, so we found the sweet kitten a new home.

When my son turned five, my husband and I got him a Labrador puppy for his birthday. Unknown to us, our son’s dog became pregnant from a neighbor’s dog a few weeks before we were scheduled to have her spayed before her first birthday. 

Becoming a mom so young, my son’s dog went crazy and attacked her puppies…even killing two of them…and she also started growling at our son and became very aggressive towards him. We ended up contacting a place who specialized in rehoming our specific breed of dog and gave him to a family who didn’t have children. 

I swore I’d never get another dog after that incident and I didn’t allow our son to be around large dogs from that day forward.

When my son was a senior, I bought him a male Labrador Retriever. We actually still have this sweet, now gray-bearded, pup. He’s always been such a sweetheart – always super good-natured and very loyal to our family.

A few years ago, my son (who is now an adult) asked if we’d buy him a dog for Christmas. He had just made the tough decision to break up with a young lady he was about to propose to, and he wanted the companionship of a pet to help him through that major loss.

My husband and I thought it was a great idea so we gave him a puppy for Christmas. 

The puppy was a rescue and we were told he was a Great Dane. Later, through DNA testing, we found out he was actually half German Shepherd and half Pitbull. This sweet puppy also had been severely abused. When we got him, he had scar lines under the fur on top of his head and on one of his paws. We were told he was eight weeks-old, but our vet told us he was most likely just three to four weeks-old after looking at his forming teeth.

My husband and I frequently had to go to our son’s house…sometimes at 2am…to help bottle feed his new puppy and help crate train him. He was a very high needs puppy who needed a lot of care. Our son ultimately ended up moving back in with us so we could all jointly better help his puppy together. My son also moved back home to better help me, too, since I was going through health issues.

When my son first got his puppy, as he would go to work each day, he’d drop off his sweet puppy at our house every morning and my husband and I would puppy-sit for 10 hours five to seven days every week.

I fell so in love with this precious puppy! Being a person who previously wasn’t very fond of dogs, I ended up becoming a major dog advocate. I now love all dogs since I finally “get it.” 

As I saw my son’s puppy “love him back to life,” I truly respected the new puppy just as much as I loved him. This very special puppy ended up being very important to each of us, each in different ways.

Our son, my husband, our entire family, and I all grew very attached to the puppy and loved him so very much! He’s literally the best dog we’ve ever known!

Right after Christmas, after my son’s puppy had just turned two years-old, he developed a limp while he was at his dog training classes (he had to take weekly specialized classes since he was so aggressive to anyone who wasn’t family). After a few weeks, his limp wasn’t healing or improving so we made an appointment with his vet. The vet told us she had bad news…I thought she was going to suggest surgery. Instead, she told us he had a very aggressive form of cancer (osteosarcoma) and only had a few months to live. We would need to immediately amputate his leg. If we chose treatment, it’d cost about $1400-$3500 for the initial surgery and then several thousand dollars for additional chemo and radiation. 

We took him to a pet oncologist for a second opinion. We were told the same thing: that treatment would do very little for him and that we’d have to drive several hours each weekend and spend these weekends in another city so he could do his cancer treatments. The heartbreaking truth was this would only extend his life for possibly 4-12 additional months – and he’d suffer. A lot. 

We contacted another veterinarian for a third opinion. She knew our puppy from the time we got him. I trusted her completely because she loved him like we did. In fact, outside of family and one other vet tech, she was the only other person he liked. She recommended pain pills and to keep him as comfortable as possible for as long as we could…and to give him the very best life in his ending days.

We were absolutely devastated! Our hearts broke into a million pieces and the pain was excruciating. 

This puppy helped us through some of the worst days of our lives and he loved our family back to life. I always thought to myself, “who rescued who?” whenever I would recall the day we rescued him. His great love for us helped us…even saved us. It was sickeningly and devastatingly unfair that we couldn’t do the same for him. We were powerless to do anything. If love alone could’ve healed our sweet puppy, he would’ve lived to be 100.

My son’s puppy died two months ago (three months after diagnosis) and I was surprised just how deep my grief was in the days and weeks after his death. The grief was thick and incredibly intense. I am thankful we chose to lovingly end his suffering close to the weekend so we’d have all weekend to try to come to terms with our heartache.

I knew I’d be incredibly sad. I just didn’t expect my grief to be as strong and overwhelming as it was. I didn’t think pain like this was possible with losing a pet. To my shame, I had said at a grief conference I spoke at a few years ago that losing a pet wasn’t the end of the world compared to other grief events. I just didn’t “get it” at the time. After all, all of my pets growing up were mostly outdoor pets. There’s a big difference when they’re indoors with you 24/7…and an even bigger difference when you get a pet during a time of grief. I think when you get a pet during a time of grief, and they help you through a super sad time, I believe their death is much harder to get through. 

I certainly have learned so much through this entire experience. After experiencing our puppy’s daily struggles with cancer, my heart immediately went out to my loved ones who had experienced their pet’s illness and/or death.

After we found out about our puppy’s cancer, I invited one particular friend out for coffee – this was a friend who had been through her beloved dog’s death a few years ago. I needed to apologize for not being there more for her. 

When you know better, you’re able to do better. The new knowledge of how painful it is to lose a beloved, precious pet allowed me to understand the devastation my family and friends had been through.

Pet loss is hard. I think something that compounds pet loss is that there is very little concern or compassion from family and friends. Many (like me previously) think, “It’s just a dog….you can get a new one,” not understanding how untrue that is. Yes, you can get a new dog, but a person intensely misses the unique, wonderful dog – and the amazing relationship and love they shared with the specific dog (or pet) they lost.

Two months before our precious puppy died, my son had made arrangements to get another puppy. We were scheduled to put our 2 year-old puppy down on a Friday, and we were scheduled to pick up the new puppy on the Sunday after. We were shocked when our two year-old puppy’s cancer treatments started working so we called off the euthanasia. (More about this on an upcoming blog).

I can’t tell you how many people told us, “Just pour yourself into the new puppy. Be grateful you have the new puppy and your other dog.” Of course, they were only trying to help us, but so many of our extended family and friends just didn’t understand how great of a loss we were going through. We still are hurting from the loss. He just isn’t replaceable. The relationship each of us built with him the whole two years we had him can’t be replicated. Our circumstances just aren’t the same as when we got our two year-old puppy…and I’d never want to go through a major grief experience to duplicate how that special bond was formed.

The loss of this precious puppy was super hard not only because he was a completely indoor dog, but that he also had a very well developed larger-than-life personality. He had a high level of emotional intelligence and intuitively knew how to read our family’s emotions. He was also very smart. When he’d get thirsty, he’d go to our kitchen and bring us a water bottle. He was so personable and intelligent…almost like a mini human. Anytime the songs “Penny Lane” by The Beatles or “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers came on, he would stop what he was doing and “sing” by howling to the entire song. Christmas music would instantly calm him since he would lay on my shoulder as a baby while I was working by the Christmas tree the first month we got him. Anytime Christmas music was played, he’d quietly lay down by me and be perfectly still.

His larger than life personality lit up the entire room once he entered it. Although he weighed over 90 lbs, he considered himself a lap dog…our “little” baby. He always snuggled into our laps as soon as we sat down. He also fiercely protected us. Like I said, we had to put him in specialized dog training classes to calm down his aggression towards anyone who wasn’t family. 

He was a huge, perfect, lovable, sweet teddy bear to us. We’ll always miss his love and all of his many emotions…even the pouting and audible “sighing” he’d do. When he’d get upset about something, he’d let out a big, loud sigh and massively pout. It was a theatrical, broadway-style experience. The whole house would know about it…he’d make sure of it. 

One time, he was so upset that our son went out on a date that he dramatically laid down and pouted on the floor after our son left the house…then this poor puppy took the pouting to a recliner…then to another recliner…then he pouted on the couch…then over to his dog bed…then over to his crate…then to everyone else that was home. He was so mad that he refused his favorite treat – squeeze cheese in a can. It was so funny when he’d behave so dramatically.

Just as quickly as he’d pout, he’d use that same intense energy to love my son and all of our family. When any of us would get home, he’d come running up and wiggle his entire big body. He’d miss us so much that he’d literally cry with joy when he saw us walk in the door or into the room. He’d then gently take our hand by lightly clamping his teeth down so he could lead us to a chair to hold him.

Had I never met my son’s puppy, I never would’ve known…or believed…how incredibly close and rewarding a relationship with a pet could be. I used to think people were crazy – absolutely nuts – to love, adore, and spoil their pets….and then I met this sweet fur baby. He truly opened up a part of my heart that I didn’t even know existed, and he taught me so many lessons.

I will forever be grateful to God for perfectly coordinating us finding that precious puppy!

Even though we have two other big dogs (who I also absolutely love and adore in their own unique and special way), they can never take the place of my lil baby. My relationship with him was simply extra special. He was a huge comfort to me as my heart was breaking for my son while he was going through major grief. This sweet puppy also helped our family and me after my dad was diagnosed with cancer. During his first year of life, he helped our family through some very hard days. I will forever be grateful to him for loving our family so well!

Our sweet puppy will always be loved, treasured and remembered.

If you’ve ever experienced the death of a precious, much-loved pet, my heart sure goes out to you. If you are in the midst of  taking care of a pet who is terminally ill, I am so very sorry. I invite you to read my upcoming blog posts for encouragement.

To all who have a pet they love, take some time today to hug and cuddle them. Take them for a walk and give them an extra treat or two.

Enjoy and treasure each day with all of your loved ones. No matter if they wear a suit of fur or not.

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim🐾❤️🐾

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

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

❤️Kim’s 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

💕

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Christians: Are We Taking The Easy Way Out?

This weekend, I watched a movie that was very good – gut-wrenching, actually.

Movie clips of this particular movie were shown here as well https://www.life.church/watch/ during Pastor Craig Groeschel’s annual teaching of At The Movies (every year at Life.Church, they teach on a different movie each week during the month of July).

If you haven’t seen Hacksaw Ridge, you truly need to.

As I was watching one particular scene, my heart broke in excruciating pain…tears just rolled down my face.

As Life.Church showed this clip, it was used to show the importance of saving the unsaved…which is very important. My mind went beyond that to each person who has ever went through grief – especially those who felt abandoned, betrayed, or wounded by the Church. My heart immediately thought about those who nobody went to check on or those who nobody “went back” to help save them. I hear more stories than I can count of how nobody took the time to love hurting people back to life.

As a grief specialist and grief group leader, I hear the most heart wrenching stories people have experienced. For almost 10 years now, helping people for 20-50 hours each week, these stories have caused my heart to truly go out to those who hurt…stories about death of loved ones, grief over wrong personal decisions or a loved one’s hurtful decisions, adultery, abuse, military grief, PTSD, abandonment, extreme hurt and conflict in families and churches, church abuse, suffering, heavy guilt and regrets, illnesses, addictions…I literally hear every story that has wounded a human heart.

Before a person comes to me for help, many times, they’ve already sought out help from church leaders, family members, and friends. The hardest – and most taboo – situations of grief (suicide/suicide attempts, the after effects of rape or murder, all situations of abuse, death of a child or young person, church/spiritual abuse, etc.) are the most challenging to help.

Something that has happened time and time again, and has been said numerous times, is this:

“I went to my pastor (or fellow church staff or church member) for help, and they never got back to me…I felt I wasn’t important.”

Or worse….

“My pastor, church staff, and/or fellow Christians knew about my situation…and they ignored me. They never even called to see how I was after I reached out for help.”

Watching Hacksaw Ridge, when the main character is courageously sacrificing himself and bravely doing everything in his power to save as many as he can…and pleads, “Lord, help me get (save) one more”…my heart sank.

Just like a physical war, when someone goes through heartache, grief, or pain and they are wounded, if someone does not go and help them…the alternative is to leave them for the enemy to devour. This is beyond true spiritually, too. When a Christian is wounded, and the Church doesn’t take the time to care, the enemy is more than happy to delightfully devour them, too.

Watching that scene of Hacksaw Ridge, all I could think of were the several people I know who have quit going to church, and the ones who have turned to atheism – or even other religions – because they went through a harsh life challenge and felt like nobody cared.

We as Christians have got to demand higher of ourselves. 

Yes, everybody is busy.

Yes, it may not be someone’s specific responsibility because, after all, they did not cause the pain.

Yes, it is totally time-consuming.

Yes, it truly is messy.

And there will always be people in the church or on staff who will make excuses by saying things like, “hurting people hurt people”…”we won’t help others who aren’t taking responsibility by taking the first steps to help themselves”….”nobody is perfect.”

But, the example of Jesus Christ is to deny yourself and pick up your cross…and part of picking up your cross is to actively love people back to life – especially those who are unsaved or those who have been hurt or who have left the church.

And it’s not just church members who have been hurt by the church. There are many who are (or who were) on church staff (or their spouses/families) who have been deeply wounded by either fellow church staff members or members of their congregations, too.

Jude‬ ‭1:22-23‬, “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.”

  1. Hurting people do not hurt people. Hurting people help heal people because they understand what being hurt feels like. Jerks hurt people and then refuse to make it right.
  2. The attitude of “I’ll help people once they help themselves…” is very flawed. I am so very thankful that God doesn’t treat people that way. He loves…He gives grace…He initiates healing…He lifts us up and carries our burdens for us.
  3. The argument of “Nobody is perfect…” fails what God commands in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Of course, nobody is perfect, but God certainly gives us some very sobering and serious responsibilities as believers on how to treat others – especially reconciling with those we hurt or those who may have something against us. He even instructs us in Matthew 5:23-24 to leave our gifts at the altar until we actively go make things right with those we have hurt or offended…and says to not come back until this is done first.

God doesn’t give us these responsibilities of how to treat others – or how not to treat others – to be difficult; He gives us these precious responsibilities so we will be careful with each other’s heart and spirit. He understands the potential terrible cost if we are not careful with His instructions.

I heard the most profound statement this week from a young person who had been deeply wounded and wronged by their church:

“People always knock certain shady TV evangelists, but all they do is steal money. What about the pastors at churches who hurt people in their congregations? They steal peoples emotions and spirit. Money is readily replaceable…trust is not.”

To hear someone young be so wounded and jaded by the Church really concerned my heart. Hearing their story…and then hearing how the leaders at their church knew about the hurt they inflicted — yet didn’t show good character by going to them and working things out…there just are no words.

Satan loves taking people out. The enemy knows if he can get Christians or church leadership to wound someone, the likelihood of additional generations being spiritually destroyed will ensue:

Proverbs‬ ‭27:23-24,Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.”‬ ‭

When someone is deeply wounded, it doesn’t just affect the individual who was hurt. It affects everyone they’ll ever come in contact with…and future generations.

•You may be reading this, and you may be one who has been deeply wounded. On behalf of every Christian, I apologize profusely to you for your pain. You should never have been left alone in your time of hurt, somebody should have cared enough to reach out to you and loved you back to life. Please, please, please know that God wanted for you to be treated with love, kindness and respect…it’s not His fault – or His Will – when people disobey scripture by mistreating others or not helping them. I humbly ask you to please forgive the Church. God loves you and has not forgotten you!

Isaiah‬ ‭40:27-31‬,Why would you ever complain, O Jacob or Israel, saying, “GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. Butthose who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

Isaiah‬ ‭49:15-16‬, “Can a woman forget her nursing child? Will she have no compassion on the child from her womb? Although mothers may forget, I will not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. Your walls are always in My presence.”

•You may be reading this right now and you know for a fact you’ve wounded a fellow believer, but you never made it right. I strongly plead with you to go to that person (or persons) and courageously apologize for your wrongdoing…Most importantly, for them. Secondarily, for the judgment that can fall onto you:

Matthew‬ ‭5:23-24, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”‬ 

Colossians 3:25, “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”

Proverbs‬ ‭17:13, “Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good.” ‭

•You may be reading this right now and you personally know of someone who was wounded by another believer. If you know of someone who is wounded, please consider being the one to make a difference.

Matthew‬ ‭25:40, 45‬, ““The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.’…and…“He will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.’” 

I don’t think most people drop the ball purposely, but it does happen unfortunately. An apology, or genuinely caring for others from the heart, goes a long way.

My heart is for the hurting, the grief stricken, and those who have been spiritually wounded. I know of many Christians who this is so very important to their heart, too.

Majority of the Christians I know are really amazing people who genuinely care about others. They actively love people and truly enjoy serving others. When others hurt, they genuinely hurt for them, too!

We all (totally including myself) need to do better and become more mindful of others.

When we’re tempted not to make things right with those who we have hurt or offended…or we are tempted to leave it up to someone else to do our part…or we believe the lie that we are too busy or things are too awkward or messy to get involved…I really pray that we each will consider how we can make these situations better for everyone we know.

I know I can do better.

The rest of this year, let us prayerfully consider reaching out to those who used to attend our churches or those who were once in our LifeGroups, Sunday School class, or Small Groups – those who we never see anymore. I pray we consider the people we know who quit going to church because they were hurt, deeply offended, or wounded.

Consider calling one person a week to check on them to see how they’re doing and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them. May we each choose to love people back to life.

As a Christian, we never want to be known as someone who took the easy way out… Especially since Christ never did.

Be the example of Jesus to others that you would hope someone will be to you and your family.

Jesus’ example is very, very clear:

Luke‬ ‭15:4-7‬, ““Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

I love how God used sheep in this passage of scripture. I don’t believe it’s coincidental that the above scripture and the following verses deal with sheep and lions. Think about this:

1 Samuel‬ ‭17:34-36‬, “David replied to Saul, “I am a shepherd for my father’s sheep. Whenever a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and rescued the sheep from its mouth. If it attacked me, I took hold of its mane, struck it, and killed it. I have killed lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them because he has challenged the army of the living God.””

1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

The above verses speak of sheep and lions. Just as David vigilantly looked out for his earthly father’s sheep, how much more should we as Christians look out for, and help and defend, our Heavenly Father’s sheep? The enemy’s goal is to challenge and hurt God. If we don’t actively care for those in the Church…yes, even those who have left it…then we are part of the problem.

When people waver in their faith or leave the church, or when we know of people who are hurting or who have been deeply wounded, or when there are leaders (or church members) in the church who have hurt people and not made it right – yet no one corrects them or holds them accountable – we really need to start addressing that in our churches. When no one seems to care during these situations, we must ask God to soften our hearts and also for wisdom to know how to effectively reach out to those who have been wounded.

We have got to stop taking the easy way out…..we have got to expect more of ourselves and do better.

If a family member of ours stopped attending family functions and quit communications, would we simply shrug our shoulders and have an apathetic attitude of, “oh well?” Would we merely accept it and just move on? Would we think that it wasn’t our problem or responsibility? Absolutely not! We would call them and we would fight for that precious family member and our relationship with them.

God considers Church family relationships to be of utmost importance…they’re a reflection of His relationship to us, His Bride. That is something we all need to deeply consider.

The only response a Christian should have to those who are struggling is this: Snatch them from the flames…help and encourage them…be the best version of “Jesus” to them…meet needs wherever possible…and love them back to life!

We have got to do a better job of focusing on helping people in their spiritual walk, being deeply concerned with their eternal destination, as well as care about peoples hearts, their hurts, and what truly matters.

Galatians 6:1-2, ““Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

John‬ ‭13:34-35‬, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Never discount a person’s hurt…or their potential. There are some people in life who have been deeply wounded, but they will blossom greatly when the right people genuinely take the time to care about them. There may be weeds, but please understand that underneath the hurt and weeds is good soil. All they need is for someone to take the time to rinse the mud off of their heart, and water them with compassion, so the Sonshine can work miracles.

Luke 10:2….“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

Tell God you’re willing to be a worker for Him in building people back to life. Ask God to grant you the gift of seeing people how He sees people, and to love people how He loves people. Ask God to impress on your heart, and every believer’s heart, to deeply care about saving both the lost and the hurting.

I’ll always be grateful to the people in my life who had a deep burden for the harvest. They saw an ugly, dying weed, but decided to care about me and love me back to life.💕

Please take a moment and soberly watch this video and listen to this song. Then pray and ask God to show you who you can love back to life. We each need to make a strong commitment as Christians to stop taking the easy way out.❤️

Movie clip from Hacksaw Ridge: https://youtu.be/Oy6kwogmhRYSong by Keith Green: https://youtu.be/8yJd0JMzq7kWho can you love back to life today?If you have been hurt or wounded by the church, I highly recommend Saddleback Church in California. If you don’t live in California, they offer online services, too. Life.Church also offers online experiences.http://www.saddleback.comwww.life.church You are so very valuable and loved! Gratitude & many blessings,m ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!For more encouragement: ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 
2.&
br>e<br
t
ed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 
3.&
br>e<br

To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 
4.&
br>e<br

Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

One Of The Most Important Gifts You Can Give To A Loved One During Grief

When you go through a major grief experience, it changes you to your very core.

And it takes time to sort your life out.

Anyone who has been through grief is reading this and wholeheartedly agreeing. They understand exactly what I mean when I say a person needs time to sort their life out.

Someone who has never experienced a heart wrenching loss just seems not to get it. They can feel sympathetic towards a loved one…but they don’t understand the major disruption grief can truly be.

Every few weeks, a person who has a loved one who is experiencing deep grief will contact me and ask me to meet them for coffee.

When I first started receiving these requests, I assumed that their grieving loved one knew I’d be showing up. Instead, I found that these “coffee meetings” were an intervention of sorts. They thought I’d talk to their grieving loved one, sort them out, share some sort of miraculous words that would instantly change their grief-stricken loved one…so everyone could return to their happy, normal, pre-grief lives.

If only it were that easy…sigh…and apparently they don’t know me very well.

Each person who attempts this, quickly finds out a few things about me:

  1. If someone didn’t know I was coming, I’d apologize and give the griever the option of talking with me or not. I don’t believe in forced conversations or tricking people – even if the original intention was good or thoughtful.
  2. They found out I’m a huge grief advocate…I don’t believe in telling anyone to “suck it up,” “get back to being your ‘old self,'” or “act normal.” The only exception is if a person has children still in the home, a person will have to balance out grief with providing a stable environment for their kiddos…but that never entails hiding emotions, being their old self, or being fake. It just means a person will need to gain more outside help from family and friends so they can gain wisdom and counsel, so they don’t end up experiencing greater loss down the road.
  3. They found out new ways of being there for their grieving loved one…and that their grieving loved one is just as frustrated as they are. Nobody likes going through grief and experiencing deep heartache and the sudden changes it brings.

What do you do when family or friends don’t “get” or understand your grief? 

How do you handle family and friends who say unthoughtful things such as, “you need to get over it, “you need to move on,” or “I just want you to be your ‘old self'”?

When I went through my sister’s and other loved ones’ deaths, I majorly reacted in my heart to people who said comparable things to me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized when people say these things, it is really annoying, but they usually really do mean well. They’re frustrated with the situation, and hurting from the loss of their normal relationship they’ve previously enjoyed pre-grief. Granted, there are some who are selfish and find the grief of a loved one intrusive, but most genuinely do care…some just haven’t learned how to help their grieving loved one or learned how to communicate what they’re saying or feeling in a beneficial or non-insulting way.

I have found one of the greatest things needed during times of grief…for both the griever and the family and friends of the griever…is grace.

Grace is compassion on steroids.

Grace doesn’t take away the grief, but it sure does help tremendously when people offer each other this one special gift. 

What about when a grief event totally changes a relationship? A grief event took place and your family and friends treat you differently than they did before?

I’ve had multiple grievers share with me that they’d had a best friend for decades…but then after a grief event, the friend was nowhere to be found. Couples who had hung out for years – even vacationed each year together – suddenly disappear without warning. Family relationships who were previously very close, end up blowing up, disintegrating, or become almost unrepairable.

Grace is so very important during times of grief!

When people are going through grief, they may say or do things that are very uncharacteristic of them. Sometimes people are in so much pain that they may say some really ugly things … things they truly don’t mean.

Again, grace is very much needed during times of grief.

Who can you offer grace to today? Do you know someone who you greatly hurt or offended during their time of grief who you need to apologize to? Is there someone who hurt or offended you that you need to call to work through a resolution?

Grief changes everything. And it genuinely changes everyone who walks through and experiences it.

Be kind to the grievers you know. Seek to be the grace-filled sun and rainbow through all of your loved ones storms in life. And give grace to those who may have offended you during your time of grief.

There will come a day when we all will need grace. Start being a gracious and grace-filled person today.

May each of you always give and find grace, compassion, encouragement, and love in your relationships with family and friends.❤️

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617&nbsp;

❤️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&nbsp;
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed&nbsp;
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites&nbsp;
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

“Ugh…Here She Comes Again..” 

“Ugh…here she comes again..”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617&nbsp;

❤️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&nbsp;
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed&nbsp;
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites&nbsp;
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

Jesus Can Relate To Your Grief

Life seems to have a theme of loss. Majority of us will go through a series of deep losses throughout our lifetime. Some are spread out over a long period of time, while some losses happen one right after the other, deeply threatening to bury our hope. 

Whatever situation you find yourself in today, please know this: God deeply cares about your pain. He sincerely hurts for you. In fact, we serve a very personal God…He hurts not just for you but with you. 

Jesus was a man of sorrows, He was deeply and well aquatinted with loss and grief. 

If you are going through trauma, loss, or disappointment today, Jesus truly can relate: 

Have you felt the sting of betrayal? He has too. Sharply.

Have you lost your home? He didn’t even have a place to lay His head. 

Have you been abused or treated as though you had zero value? He was too. 

Have you watched a loved one go through illness, rebellion, mental illness, or death? He did too. 

Have you felt rejected or looked down on? He has too. 

Have you had your reputation tarnished or been unfairly treated? He was too. 

Have you been through the death of a major relationship? He has too. 

Have you ever loved another person, poured yourself into them, and treated them extremely well…and then was repaid with ungratefulness, unkindness, and a lack of love? He definitely has experienced that too! He still does. 

On the cross, He willingly felt every sin, illness, and heartache. He did it for one reason: LOVE! 

He truly can relate. He loves you so very much! He does care about your life and heart!

He also cares about every injustice you have faced. 

Since Jesus can truly relate to our hurts, disappointments, frustrations, and heartaches at such a deep level, and cares about each of us so much, we genuinely can trust Him to help us through each and every circumstance in life! 

Yes, we all will experience loss in life. It’s so good to know we serve a God who truly can relate and who genuinely cares!

Honoring Jesus this Easter weekend and thanking Him for His incredible sacrifice! God’s plan goes beyond love and comprehension. 

John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Gratitude & Easter blessings,
Kim

*Photo by YouVersion. You can sign up to read the Bible as well as many reading plans by visiting http://www.youversion.com or downloading the FREE YouVersion Bible App.

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617&nbsp;

❤️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&nbsp;
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed&nbsp;
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites&nbsp;
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

Where Are You God?

“Where Are You God?”
Anyone who has been through a heart wrenching situation — a situation that desperately needed God’s help, intervention, and redemption — has more than likely went through a season where God seemingly wasn’t answering your prayers.

You most likely cried out to Him, begged, pleaded with Him, appealed to Him, maybe fasted, and even claimed scripture…yet nothing seemed to happen.

I’ve been through seasons such as this during my lifetime. To be completely honest, I’m currently in the midst of the most desperate season I’ve ever been in and have been in it the last few years.

At the beginning of 2016, I asked God to give me a specific word to learn from and also for two things: one being, “Please give me a brand new season. A season filled with joy and goodness.” And the second being, “Where are you? Please intervene in and change this situation.”

There will be seasons in life with absolutely no let up. We each may go through trial after trial, and grief experience after grief experience, with no relief in sight. Life can be ridiculous or heartbreaking at times…sometimes for a very long time.

Anyone who seeks after God with their whole heart…and refuses to give up…will find that God has a purpose and plan for each circumstance though. I have found that God is very, very good – even through the toughest events in life! Even the tough situation I’m currently going through…I know God has an incredible plan.  

Back to asking God for a specific word…

The word God gave me for 2016 was Perseverance. When He gave me this word, I was not a happy camper. I had hoped for a word like “Joy” or “Healing” or another word that would give me hope that a new season was about to begin. 

With the word Perseverance, I knew I would be going through tougher circumstances. And I was right…I have.

During these trials, God woke me up to a powerful truth: it’s never been me waiting on Him…it’s been I haven’t learned a particular lesson He has been trying to teach me for several years. And for the greater overall picture, it is very important I take the time to learn it.

God isn’t trying to punish or cause/allow hardship…He’s trying to take His people to a greater level in life!

Earth isn’t where we’re supposed to find our greatest comfort or ease…that’s the promise of Heaven. Earth is an accelerated, fierce training ground to fully prepare us for Heaven. 

It doesn’t mean we won’t enjoy life and have great times of goodness…it simply means that if we could truly understand and see the eternal perspective – the “big picture” – of all God’s plans, we’d stop kicking and screaming and cooperate. We’d fully trust and submit. Hard to do during times of great hardship, though, since we each are human. That’s why we need God’s help and grace.

Think about this:

Sometimes God isn’t near as silent as we accuse Him of being…sometimes, we just aren’t grasping what He is trying to teach us. And sometimes, God will not instantly or quickly redeem our situation because He doesn’t want us to have to go through a more heartbreaking or tougher situation later on due to not learning a lesson or character quality He is trying to build in our lives. 

We need to ask ourselves if we are wanting our comfort more than we are willing to persevere and trust His perfect will and perfect timing. Do we truly believe He’s faithful and knows what He’s doing…or do we attempt to twist the arm of God to get what we want in our own time?

If you’ve experienced major hurt and you’re respectfully questioning God or asking Him to remove the situation, you’re in good company. Even Jesus had questions.

Matthew 27:46, “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).”

Matthew 26:39, “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

God successfully created the whole world and has kept it going since Day one…He knows what He’s doing. He is God and we are not. So why is it so hard to rest in Him and trust His plans or His timing?

Several years ago, my sweet husband offered to make dinner. He decided to make some fried chicken strips in a deep fryer, but he didn’t set a timer or read the directions on the package of how long to fry them. He chose to take the chicken out whenever he thought they looked done.

The chicken strips were fried to a light golden brown and looked delicious…until our son and I took our first bite and discovered the chicken was still raw in the middle.

How many times do we do the same with God? We choose not to read His instructions (the Bible), do things our own way and in our own time, and do not wait for His correct timing? Or we make hasty decisions? And then we become upset and surprised when whatever He is trying to accomplish in our lives seems to take forever…or something bad happens?

My husband ended up having to refry each chicken strip. And so is the same thing with God…sometimes we have to go through a same or similar situation since we weren’t patient, or the learning process has to restart since we didn’t learn or accomplish what God intended.

If you are going through a fiery trial today, my heart truly hurts for you. It is not fun to go through a situation where you have zero control. It truly stinks to go through deep grief or a heart wrenching trial and have to wait for God to accomplish His best.

It’s worth it when God redeems a situation or you can finally see what He was lovingly trying to accomplish, prevent, or teach…but it is sometimes super painful before you get to that place!

I can tell you this important truth – after going through multiple heartbreaking situations and trials: God is very faithful! He would never allow (not cause, but allow) a challenging trial to enter your life unless He had a specific purpose or plan to see you through. He NEVER wastes a hurt!

It is always best to learn as much as we can in every situation we go through so we don’t have to go through another same or similar situation due to not learning what God was trying to teach us. 

Whatever you do, don’t quit. You have great value and your breakthrough may be just around the corner.

In what area of your life do you need to stop asking “where are you God” and instead completely submit to God and seek Him with your whole heart?

He’s there. 

When you fully seek Him, you will find Him. 

He WILL be making up for all of your pain.❤

Jeremiah 29:13,You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

Further blog posts on this topic & encouragement:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617&nbsp;

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/god-can-restor-your-lost-years

http://pastorrick.com/devotional/english/god-s-purpose-is-greater-than-your-problems-or-pain

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

❤️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&nbsp;

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed&nbsp;

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites&nbsp;

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

The Value of Anger in Grief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The alternative is not pretty.

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

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

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

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

Instead of judgment, please show kindness and mercy, and help them through their hard time. No words necessary…just love them, listen to them, stick around, and be there.

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

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

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

Gratitude, love, & blessings,
Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617&nbsp;

❤️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&nbsp;

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed&nbsp;

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites&nbsp;

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays