Tag Archive | bereavement

The Perfect Way To Grieve

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

Grief can do a real number on you.

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

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

So what is the perfect way to grieve?

What’s right and what’s wrong?

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

Advice is simply advice.

Help is simply help.

Encouragement is simply encouragement.

Thoughts are simply thoughts.

Grief steps are simply grief steps.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The perfect way to grieve simply doesn’t exist.

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

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

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

This may include:

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

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

Wishing all of you healing, comfort, and peace!

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

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

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

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

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

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Choosing To Make Every Day A Celebrated Day Throughout Grief

Life is made up of days.

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

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

You rarely hear people say, “Celebrated.”

Especially not in grief.

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

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

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

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

Throughout my lifetime, I have experienced an extraordinary amount of grief. I’ve been through three major waves of grief and through these waves (each wave lasting between 5-11 years of continual grief events), I’ve experienced…and learned…a lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think very differently.

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

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

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

And I am much stronger.

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

A few I most treasure:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every day is a great day to be alive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A quote I’d like to encourage you with:

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

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

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

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

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

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

The Calendars & Clocks Of Grief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It brought back a lot of memories…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very.

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

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

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

I really, truly hate how unfair it all is.

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

❤️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

Relief From Grief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I chose to get up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a true suckfest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

❤️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

Healing From Pet Loss ~ Part 3

This post is a continuation of a series I started writing last year. It will discuss creating a peaceful euthanasia experience for your pet, what to expect, and some pitfalls to look out for. I’ll also share some good tips for after you arrive home from the euthanasia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We received anything but that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our wishes were totally not honored.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⭐️Here are my tips for creating a peaceful euthanasia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim🐾💕🐾

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️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/

🐈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

When God Doesn’t Give You Your Fairytale

We all have fairytales we’ve built up in our minds. Those great kingdoms we so greatly desire and hold deep inside our hearts.

Some may have desired to get their college degree, find the right person, get married, have children, and live happily ever after.

Some may have desired for their kiddos to grow up, have their own children, and all of them love and serve God.

Some may have dreamed about developing their talents, passions, and abilities, and boldly create a satisfying career.

Some may have dreamed about moving away or traveling abroad, seeing and experiencing as much of life as possible.

Some may have wanted a certain relationship, dream, or goal to happen in their life.

Some might have pursued health and wellness to the fullest.

There are many desires, fairytales, and kingdoms we would’ve chosen if we could have been in total control…but the truth is, “life” happens.

Relationships end. Financial and marital issues are far too real. Illness and disabilities happen. People fail us…and we fail them. Plans we make crash and burn. Fairytales we’ve created in our hearts crumble and are compromised or destroyed…by others, ourselves, or “life.”

This past year may have been a real challenge for you…maybe the last decade, or your whole life has been difficult. Perhaps you have seen the fairytale you greatly desired fade right out of sight.

Maybe you’ve lost a loved one or you’ve watched people you dearly love go through grief, illness, or trauma. Perhaps you were given a terrible diagnosis. Maybe you’ve watched someone you deeply love walk away. You might’ve watched your marriage or family crumble…or a family member turn away from God. Maybe you’ve seen the desires you once held dear be sifted and slip through your fingers.

Something God has been showing me the last few years is to persevere … To love Him no matter what. To place my “fairytales” in His super caring – and capable – hands. This isn’t always easy; in fact, it’s much easier said than done – especially when you’re going through major grief or trials.

My frustrations, disappointments, and heartaches have taught me many important life lessons. These lessons have come at a high price, but I couldn’t have learned them any other way.

Although hurts, frustrations, and disappointments can come from multiple sources, some originate from an unexpected source: ourselves. We want to play God. We think we know best and try to force the “glass slippers” in our life to fit. We will wiggle, stretch, or try to broaden or shrink our feet (life) to make our plans and desires fit God’s plans. God has a better plan, but we want what we want.

God asks us to close the door on something, and if we refuse, He closes it for us. We then become upset. Instead of seeking to find the right “doors” He wants us to find and enter…we instead stay stagnant at a closed door, resenting Him for not answering our prayers – and we desperately try to “pick the lock” of the closed door. Oh, how we cry at the shut doors and become upset with God for not doing things our way – and for not giving us the “happily ever after” we envisioned.

As I was talking to God about this very thing a few years ago, I felt as though He was saying, “I don’t always allow the glass slipper to fit in the way you so desperately want to wear it. I know you want it to fit, but I love you enough to take that glass slipper away from you, place it behind a closed door, and lock the door because in My higher wisdom, I can clearly see how that glass slipper will eventually shatter…and then you would be stuck with broken, shattered slippers that would forever cut you the rest of your life.”

Sometimes, God protects us from the fairytales He knows will end badly; other times, I have found (particularly in times of deep rebellion or extended disobedience), God will allow us to make those ill-fitting glass slippers to fit. Sometimes, we need a painful reminder to not make the same unwise choices again.

God knows what is best – whether we like it or not. He is God and we are not. He is all knowing…our vision is so very limited. He doesn’t owe us our fairytale or our “happily ever after”…if we were to look at all of the good in our lives and every blessing, it’s astonishing how good He truly is to us. Even when bad things happen…He may be mercifully preventing something far worse from happening in the future.

If God closes a door or removes a glass slipper in your life, press forward, seek Him with all of your heart, and see what He has in store for you.

Many problems are born out of not viewing life or eternity correctly. We faultily believe life is about our comfort and blessings here on earth…and we fail to see that life is ultimately a training ground to prepare us for Heaven.

Everything we experience or go through in life – all of it (the good and the bad) – has great value and purpose. Every joy, every success, and even every heartache, disappointment, and failure brings us closer to God’s heart as these precious life experiences prepare us for Heaven. Nothing is ever wasted when we give it (and continue to give it back) to God. We can waste or take for granted the lessons God offers us, but each has a specific purpose.

Our minds cannot possibly wrap around or understand God’s plans, thoughts, or ways…and some of them may even seem incredibly cruel.

Being told you or a loved one have cancer (or another major health issue) is devastating. Going through relationship, marriage, or family difficulties…or other hardships in life, again, totally stinks. It tempts us to think that God doesn’t care or that He somehow dropped the ball. But the fact is, God cares more than we can ever begin to fathom or imagine.

God loves us, and if we could see the overall picture that He is painting in our life and our loved ones’ lives, we’d totally be ashamed of any time we’ve doubted Him, His Word, His promises, or His goodness.

I’m just like everyone else…there are things in life I deeply struggle with and don’t understand. I don’t have everything figured out…and there are situations I sure do wish God would heal, repair, give justice in, or fix. There are some things I’ll never understand or agree with…not in a billion years.

We are fortunate God is so patient with us. He allows the questions throughout our deepest heart’s grief. He shows up. He cares.

We don’t know what Heaven will ultimately be like, but God is a great God of purpose, order, goodness, and creativity. This I know to be true.

As we go through the death of a fairytale or the death of a great desire of our heart, it is so vital to remember that God promises He will be making up for all of the bad we suffer and go through on earth (Joel 2:25-32; Revelation 21:3-5; Deuteronomy 30:1-20; Acts 3:19-21; Psalm 51; Job 42:10-17; Jeremiah 33; and so many other verses that share of God’s healing, blessings, and restoration).

When we faultily believe that life is primarily about our happiness…without caring about the incredible holy work God wants to perfect in our heart…we shortchange ourselves and those around us.

Don’t get me wrong. God loves to give us the desires of our hearts…He loves to see joy and happiness in our lives — He truly does. But when we have a specific purpose that God has in store for us (or our loved ones)…and then we rebel or refuse to obey God or fail to make His purpose and plans our first priority – above our desires and “fairytales” – then why are we surprised when life becomes stressful, difficult, and chaotic?

I love the quote by Lecrae: “You can live like there’s no tomorrow…but tomorrow always shows up full of consequences.” The same is true: God gives us free will to disobey, reject, and rebel against God when our fairytales crumble, but the consequences of these decisions will eventually catch up to us.

I’ve seen a lot of my fairytales end up in flames. Sometimes, “life” just happened – I didn’t do anything wrong and it was totally unfair. Other times, if I’m truly honest with myself, I can trace my heartaches and disappointments in life back to times when I disobeyed God or didn’t submit to Him. The consequences may not have shown up until years later, but in my heart, I know where the pain truly originated from.

When it comes to our life, our castles, kingdoms, and fairytales, they must fall so that God’s perfect plans can be rightfully built in their place instead.

Instead of us making ourselves the kings and queens of our own lives (which is ridiculously easy to do…knowingly and unknowingly), we need to exalt the King of Kings over every facet of our lives instead. When we truly do this, God gives us the desires of our hearts. The difference is He takes away the glass slippers (desires) that could cut us deeply, and instead gives us a fresh new pair of sturdy, unbreakable glass slippers that are custom designed, the correct size, and a joy to wear…no pain or hardship is attached to them. If we do go through hardships down the road, the slippers will hold us up because we will be walking in God’s perfect, purpose-filled, peaceful will.

You may be in the worst chapter of your life right now, but with God, your life story is far from over. Give God the “pen” of your life’s book and ask Him to write the remaining chapters of your life.

What if you’ve already quit on God? It’s not too late! Just the fact that you’re reading this is proof that God has amazing plans for your life! Simply ask God to forgive you and tell Him you want HIS plans and purpose to prevail from this moment forward. Ask Him to guide and direct you.

Your very best days may not have even happened yet. We need to fully trust God to write our life stories. It will be far better than any fairytale we could ever write ourselves. Yes, we will still go through grief, hardships, and difficulties, but they will not be in vain.

What could God truly accomplish if we were to trade in our glass slippers and fairytales for His perfect will? God wants so much for us to trust Him, obey Him, and delight in Him.

God created all of His marvelous creation in just one week. Think what our Creator can accomplish in our lives if we were to give up our fairytales, and dedicate the remainder of this year to Him.

When we trade in our fairytales and kingdoms, God always gives us something far greater: He gives us true crowns and grants us a life we will wake up to each day and be truly excited to walk throughout our life with Him!

One day, we will see He is the truest Friend we can ever hope to have. Everything will all make perfect sense.

Today, share your heart, dreams, goals, and plans with God – your most treasured fairytales – and ask Him to accomplish His perfect Will for your life!❤️

He is faithful!

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

❤️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

❤️

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 helps someone!

“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 say through my tears.

Little did I realize how such a little sentence would transform my grief.

That one random phone call, one question, and those two little words – God would eventually develop it into 2 published grief 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 143 countries, as well as five Bible Reading Plans on YouVersion that offer encouragement to millions of people.

The morning my sister called me, I was in the middle of experiencing a lot of grief. I was sick of grief – and to be honest, I was sick of life.

In the 3 years leading up to that phone call:

  • my son had been diagnosed with tumors and went through several consultations and surgeries in hospitals in two different states
  • 3 of my son’s friends died
  • my grandmother died in a freak accident a few days before Christmas
  • 2 family members died on the same day
  • my marriage crumbled almost to the point of divorce
  • I had a cancer scare that required 2 surgeries
  • my sister’s fiancé died suddenly (this was her 2nd fiancé to pass away..her 1st fiancé died a few weeks before our other sister’s death)
  • we lost our entire lifelong savings due to a then trusted person’s decisions
  • many key relationships I dearly loved deeply changed (grief can do that)
  • my son’s father suddenly died
  • I was diagnosed with a lifelong serious autoimmune illness due to stress

I felt incredibly defeated and depressed.

To go through several deaths, my son’s illness, my illness, heartbreaking marriage issues, relationship losses and changes, among other losses within three short years 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 and remain a depressed mess. I had already done that when my sister died and that wasn’t going to be my reality again.

It was almost a “saving grace” that I had previously been through grief when I was younger. Grief had been second nature in my life since I was a child. (In hindsight, I’m actually very grateful for the grief I went through while growing up because I don’t think I could’ve made it through my adult grief experiences without knowing what to expect through previous massive heartache).

While growing up:

  • my dad was killed
  • my favorite grandmother (who lived with us after my dad’s death) died a few years later while having a routine surgery
  • I lost my grandparents (and 2 uncles and an aunt) to cancer
  • a traumatic event happened when I was 12 years old, and as a result, I was hospitalized in ICU where I almost died
  • my high school boyfriend died in a car accident over Christmas break
  • one of my good friends died
  • a best friend died from suicide
  • a friend from my bible study group died from suicide
  • my sister’s fiancé died (who was also one of my best friends)
  • I saw my 22 year old sister die after only being sick for 3 weeks

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 2010 was different.

I didn’t want to just “get through” my grief. This time, I was desperate to 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 and had 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 have value.

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

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

The reason I share my grief is not to solicit sympathy or pity…absolutely not. It was through everything I went through in the past that made me who I am today. Grief has taught me incredibly powerful lessons that I never could have ever hoped to learn any other way. I’m a much better spouse, mom, family member, friend, and church member due to my grief. It is also through my grief experiences that I found my purpose in life: I get the privilege of helping so many people 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 gratitude and peace with each and every grief experience.

So why blog about it? Why talk 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 goes away. Unfortunately, grief velcroes itself to your heart. It’s. there. for. life. And the greater the love, the greater the grief. Grief typically doesn’t stay as strong as it is in the first few years…but it lingers and can come back full strength at the oddest times.

Some grief experiences are minor, while other grief experiences are majorly debilitating. There is hope for major grief, but it takes a lot of self work and grief recovery to get to that point.

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.

Who better to help someone through their grief than a person who has already walked the same thorny road?

This blog 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 yet still wants 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 been through.

Notice that 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 wanted 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 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.

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. This is 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 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:

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

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

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

❤️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

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