Tag Archive | compassion

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/Oy6kwogmhRY

Song by Keith Green: https://youtu.be/8yJd0JMzq7k


Who 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.com

http://www.life.church

You are so very valuable and loved!

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 

❤️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

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Healing From Pet Loss ~ Part 2

Experiencing a pet’s death can be very painful. It can also be painful to physically lose a pet through a divorce or if the pet wanders away.

When I talk to those who have experienced losing a much loved pet, they share how tough their experience has been. Some have been offered love, encouragement, and support, while others have not.

Perhaps, people are not quite sure what to say or do after a pet dies, because they’ve never lost a special pet. They just don’t “get it” or understand the heartache that transpires. They may have never experienced a close relationship with a pet…even if they have had a pet. 

People are also extremely busy these days. We live in a microwave society…everything is instant. And if something isn’t quick and easy, some people will choose to not get involved. Life seems to always be in one mode: fast forward.

Personally, until our recent puppy’s death, I never thought to call family or friends to see how they were doing during their grief after they experienced pet loss. I was clueless how painful losing a pet could be. I previously thought you cried for a few days and then carried on.

Boy, was I wrong.

But once you know better, you then are able to do better.

This blog post is Part 2 of a 4-part series on pet loss. After the death of our much loved and treasured pet’s death, my heart certainly goes out to anyone who has experienced losing a pet. To read our family’s story about the life and death of our son’s two-year old puppy, and our background with pets, check out Part 1 of this series on pet loss. 

We were very blessed to have support from our loved ones, which certainly has helped our grieving process. 

Others are not so lucky. Not everyone receives support…and, like me previously, not everyone knows what to say or do.

After talking to others who have been through pet loss, I want to offer some ideas of how to encourage those who have experienced a pet’s death – that way people can better know how to be there for their family and friends through their grief.

Anyone who reads this will have the ability to encourage their family and friends who have experienced a pets death…and it will mean so very much to them.

Disclaimer: Like I said in my first post about pet loss, 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 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 exact same way. Whether it is a human being or a pet, this is an 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 – or who will be mourning – their much-loved pet, and it is my prayer these posts are not offensive to anyone in the grief community.❤️As with any grief experience, I look at it as an opportunity to share what I’m learning through my experiences, in hopes it can help encourage whoever needs it. I count it a privilege to help others through all grief and loss issues. 

Here are a few ideas of how to help a loved one through the death or loss of their pet.

How To Help & Encourage Someone Through Pet Loss~

•Seek to understand– Many people think of their pet(s) as family…their baby. They’re continually around them every second they’re home. They snuggle with them most nights, and many people’s pets even share the same bed with them. So when the pet dies, their presence is terribly missed. Since their home holds many memories of their pet, too, a person’s couch, bed, and every room in their house may feel empty. Memories are everywhere. When they get home, their pet is no longer there to greet them. It can be very tough the first few weeks or months.

•If the pet helped them through a tough time or a grief experience, the loss of the pet is going to be much more devastating- When a pet is “there” for their human during grief or loss, the pet and human develop a very strong bond. Some people may even become closer to their pets than their human relationships if the pet has helped them through grief. I know of a man whose grandchild was lost during the pregnancy. A few months later, when a new “grand-dog” entered the picture, he said his heart was greatly comforted every time he was around the new puppy. Sometimes, he’d puppy-sit for his daughter and take the dog fishing with him each weekend. The new dog truly helped him through that tough time. When a dog dies during or after a grief circumstance, please realize the pet’s death is profoundly sad to the pet owner.

•Call your family member or friend whose pet died and realize they’ll grieve for awhile due to triggers– Check up on them periodically. Just like all grief experiences, the grief comes in layers when someone loses a pet. There are ups and downs just like traditional grief. I cried horribly the first few weeks after my son’s puppy died. Then I seemed to be doing much better…until I was driving and saw the Starbucks where I used to get Pupuccinos for him. It brought all of the sadness back up. Grief, whether it’s a human loss or a pet loss, comes in waves…and you never know when a wave will hit you without warning.

Offer to bring your family member or friend dinner, or offer to take them out for coffee…and just be there to care- Not many people will offer compassion to those who have experienced a pet’s death. It’s not that they’re heartless…like I said, they may just not “get” how painful it can be. You can offer to bring coffee or dinner to your family or friends when they lose a pet. A few weeks after our puppy’s death, some of my friends lost their dog. To offer comfort some friends who just went through pet loss, I ordered and paid for dinner and had it delivered to them. I know how hard the first several days were after our dog’s death…I wanted to let them know that somebody cared. This special family was the first to offer to help us with our puppy when we first got him…they helped us so much. I know their hearts were heartbroken after their sweet dog’s death.

Actively show your condolences- Don’t only call or text your loved one, buy a card…send flowers…make a donation to a local shelter in memory/honor of their precious fur angel…offer to help them plant a memorial tree…if you have photos, make a mini scrapbook of the pet to give as a thoughtful gift. The ways to show you care are endless. As with any loss, take the time to actively care.

•When you do something kind, it will always be remembered- Right after we euthanized my son’s puppy, my mom and sister came to the vet. I didn’t even know they were coming, but it truly meant so much to me. As my son held his dog, right after putting him to sleep, I wanted to give him and his puppy some time alone. As I walked out of the room, it was a nice surprise to see my mom and sister..and so good to have a shoulder to cry on. I underestimated how tough the euthanasia would be on us. After the euthanasia, later that night, one of my nieces called to check on us and another niece brought a dog over to play with our other dogs, too. Our family received cards and phone calls as well. I will always be grateful to those who actively cared by showing up and those who offered us compassion. It really meant a lot. 

NEVER say anything to minimize a pet owner’s grief such as, “It’s just a dog” or “You can always get a new pet”- And please do not get them a new pet as a gift unless you talk to them first- They can’t replace the feelings they shared with their pet or duplicate the relationship they built. Most likely, it took years to build it. The reason they’re hurting so badly is because they are grieving the years they “did life” with their pet. Plus, another pet may not have similar personality traits. It’s also not fair to a new pet to place such high expectations on them; any new pet needs to be loved for the unique individual they are. When in doubt, just be there and simply say, “I’m really sorry. Please know I am here. Anytime you’d like to talk, call me.” Your loved one will know when it’s the right time to get a new furry friend….and they’ll appreciate any kind words you can offer them.

If you’re close enough to the person who lost a pet, and you know they cremated their pet or have fur clippings, consider doing something meaningful- I’d suggest inviting them to go somewhere meaningful to sprinkle some of their pet’s ashes at a special place. If the pet had a favorite blanket, you could ask the owner if they’d like for you to have it made into a pillow. You can also buy a necklace or bracelet for the pet owner that they can wear in honor and memory of their pet. We had our vet clip some of our puppy’s fur off after he passed away and I’m taking the fur to Build-A-Bear to be built into stuffed animals that have a clear, see-through heart…one for our son and one for me…so we can “hug” a part of our puppy when we miss him. If your loved one feels up to it, consider inviting them to do something meaningful like this, too.

Realize the inner turmoil your loved one may be going through– When a person has to make the painful decision to euthanize their pet, they’re responsible for ensuring the best interests of their furry best friend. Often times, there is a lot of second guessing…”did we do it at the right time…did we do it prematurely?” If the pet loss was sudden, they may wonder, “did I do all I could do to comfort, help, and save them?” A pet owner may feel deep feelings of guilt, depression, anger, or intense sadness after a pet’s death. They may even blame themselves for not realizing an illness sooner or not having the ability to save their pet’s life. Please take the time to see where your loved one is in their grief process. 

These are just a few suggestions of how to help and encourage a loved one who goes through a pet’s death.

Even if you’re not an animal lover or a “pet person,” these ideas will most likely be very meaningful to your loved ones after they experience losing their furry friend.

Compassion, love, and empathy are what’s important. Always be the compassion today that you hope to receive in the future.

My next blog post in this series will share ideas of how to carefully plan and create the prefect last day for your pet, and also how to create a peaceful experience with your pet’s euthanasia. If you have a pet, you will not want to miss these very important tips and safeguards. There are some lessons we learned the hard way. The next post will help to alleviate future regrets.

Gratitude, healing, & 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 

❤️🐾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

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 

❤️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

Suicide…10 TIPS to make a difference

80% of all people have thought about suicide at one time or another.

50% of students feel suicidal right now this very minute.

15-18% will seriously consider suicide as a viable option.

8% will attempt it.

Suicide for me is a topic that hits home.

Several years ago, one of my friends killed herself…a few years later, another friend who attended the same Bible study with me killed himself…in 2007, a friend who changed my life committed suicide…this year, a friend of my husband’s and mine committed suicide…then a treasured loved one attempted suicide.

Yesterday, Robin Williams sadly took his own life.

Suicide is a devastating permanent decision that is made while in the trenches of a personal & temporary emotional hell.

Suicide doesn’t discriminate.

It doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, if you have a genius mind, what nationality you are, if you have a ton of friends or none…it can tempt anyone.

It is carried out by the mentally ill, as well as the mentally fit…it is carried out by people who have very loving parents & families, as well as those who lack familial support & love…it beckons the lonely bullied kids, as well as those who are popular…it has nothing to do with God, as well as everything to do with God.

How many people do each of us know who are silently at the brink of potentially quitting life?

It starts with every person because each one of us has the incredible capacity to make a difference in the lives of others!

I thought of 10 things that may make a difference. This certainly is not an exhaustive list. People hurt for many different reasons. This list is just what I consider helpful.

10 TIPS FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION~it starts with each of us

1. CHOOSE TO BE A NICE PERSON

Be kind to others. You NEVER know what people are dealing with on a day-to-day basis…things that you have no idea about. Your words have the power to uplift someone or to destroy a part of someone’s heart.

You’d be surprised how many people are literally one unkind word away from doing something regretful. “One” thing someone says could very well be the “100th” thing that was said to them during the week or month. Unkindness has a layering affect that eventually builds up. Use your words to be kind.

2. BE A GOOD REFLECTION

If you see that someone is struggling–or they are being bullied, outcasted, or rejected–or if you see someone who is making poor decisions–choose to be the ONE person who makes a difference in their life. Some people have no idea that they have VALUE.

Maybe God wants to use YOU to help uncover their value to where they gain the ability to CLEARLY see it for themselves.

Problems have a way of clouding the way we see ourselves in the daily mirror of life. Be a good solid mirror in the lives of others so that when they talk to you, they see a good reflection. People truly need that. If you see something good in someone, tell them. Give people genuine praise and words of affirmation. You may be the only good “mirror” they will see themselves through until they gain the ability to see the good in their own self.

3. DEVELOP DISCERNMENT & MERCY

Don’t believe everything you hear about people. If you do hear something negative, choose to be the type of person who gives others MERCY & the benefit of the doubt. Everybody has value and everyone has the potential to do great things with their life. EVERYBODY.

Even if something said is true, people can and do change.

Give & be the mercy today that you would hope to receive tomorrow.

Treat others how you would want to be treated in the same situation.

Everybody has the capacity to make a really poor decision. It is never a good idea to be so prideful to think that we are the exception. Please use discernment and give others MERCY.

4. DON’T PLACE BLAME

Don’t blame or judge the parents, spouse, or family of the person who tried to commit suicide or succeeded in commiting suicide. If a person commits suicide, it simply means that they did not like how the circumstances of their life was going, they lost hope, or an event was excruciatingly painful, or the pain in their life became too great to handle. It does NOT (& should NOT) reflect on the family of those left behind.

The family left behind needs your love, support, COMPASSION, & encouragement more than ever. Don’t shun or avoid them and please DO NOT make their situation a topic of gossip. They feel terribly heartbroken and traumatized about it already. Please do not add to their pain.

Don’t blame the person. They were in a lot of pain and they simply got caught up in a very dark moment and felt like the options ran out. They weren’t trying to be selfish, hurtful or unthoughtful…they were in the darkest depths of their life and didn’t know how to swim to the surface. They felt as though they were drowning and got tired of treading the waters of “life”.

If you know of a hurting family member or friend, please don’t judge their pain…please HELP & LOVE THEM!

Many times, outside people do not have all the facts to know the totality of a story of what went on inside the life of the person who committed suicide. Everybody has a story…and not everyone is an open book. Please be compassionate.

5. CHOOSE TO BE A HOPE GIVER & ENCOURAGER

There are some people in life who have a way of infusing hope in the darkest situations of life. CONTINUALLY FIND WAYS TO BE ONE OF THEM! Seek to let everyone you come in contact with know that life is good regardless of any life event they are going through. Encourage those who God has placed around you.

INFUSE HOPE, LOVE, AND ENCOURAGEMENT INTO FAMILY & FRIEND’S LIVES!

Although suicide or attempted suicide can be a source of gossip, don’t be so quick to believe that someone who attempted suicide is merely a depressed mess. 

Many times, after a suicide attempt, a person will learn very deep life lessons. Many will develop compassion towards others who are hurting. Some of the best encouragers I’ve ever met have been those who have been affected by depression or suicide.

After my attempt, I found how to be an encourager. If you want to be a great encourager, think of the struggles you have had in life…then look for others who are going through a same or similar struggle, and encourage them the way you wished someone would have encouraged you.

It can make a big difference!

6. DEVELOP AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE & A LIFE PURPOSE THAT BECOMES GREATER THAN PERSONAL PAIN

It is so important to understand how to have an eternal perspective…and to genuinely understand that EVERY life matters. There is a huge need for people who are able to EFFECTIVELY communicate this truth: Everybody goes through bad situations in life…and every situation in life is redeemable. EVERYBODY has a life purpose that needs to be fulfilled…and ONLY they have the ability to fulfill it.

With so much judgment in the world, it is easy for people to feel constantly discouraged. We need to reverse our judgments and turn them into something that helps others…and find tangible ways of caring for others. When people are down…and there are a lot of situations that can bring people down…who can they trust to help lift them out of the pit? It’s not enough to say, “I care”…everybody cares…our families and friends may need more than that. They may need to know that someone ACTIVELY CARES and are willing to invest in their life. If you see someone struggling…ask how you can help. Let them know they have great value and that there is an Answer to anything and everything in life. PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW THAT THEIR LIFE PURPOSE IS GREATER THAN ANY PAIN THEY EXPERIENCE. Pain in life is temporary…a life purpose is eternal. IT HAS AN ONGOING LASTING IMPACT & LEGACY. 

I suffered greatly with depression until I found my life purpose. Everybody has an incredible life purpose…once you find out what your own unique purpose is, it breathes new life into your heart. It truly fills your heart with HOPE!

There is purpose in every pain we all go through and it is often there to develop & refine our life purpose.

To find out your purpose, go to http://www.chazown.com and also http://www.purposedriven.com

I HIGHLY recommend two books:

  • Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For? This book has sold more books than any other nonfiction book except for the Bible. It is an incredible book that has the ability to change lives!
  • Craig Groeschel’s book, Chazown: A Different Way to See Your Life Craig Groeschel is a skilled communicator. You will truly enjoy his style of writing and wit!

7. BE A GOOD EXAMPLE TO YOUR CHILDREN

We, as parents, can fool ourselves into believing that our kids are automatically or naturally born “kind” people.

Character & kindness are CAUGHT, not TAUGHT. We can tell our kids to be kind all we want but if they do not see it in our lives, they aren’t going to buy it.

Here are a few questions each of us should ask ourselves for personal accountability:

(IT STARTS AT HOME!)

Do your kids see you being kind to your spouse, your other children, & others? Do they see you talking bad about other people to your friends? Do they see you maliciously gossiping, belittling, or insulting others? Do they see you actively befriending others or do they see you being overly critcal & picky with whom you choose to befriend? Has someone reached out to you to offer friendship and you snubbed them? Have you been arrogant or exclusive? Have they witnessed you being “two-faced”…nice to people when they are around but talk poorly about them later?

Parents are children’s main blueprint & role models for how to treat others. I think sometimes, we can all minimize or forget that.

We want to blame others instead of looking in the mirror. We ALL do it…harsh but true.

We want to think that it is always “everyone else” who will fix societal issues. We each need to honestly self-reflect to see if we are truly part of the problem…and how we can be part of the solution.

We, as parents, need to realize that kind parents produce the next kind generation. The hand that rocks the cradle has the power to influence and rock the world. Make sure you do everything in your power to ensure that your children will rock the world with kindness and compassion as adults.

If you’ve made these mistakes (and we ALL have), go to your kids and ask for forgiveness. It is never too late to become a kinder person and to open up important conversation with our kiddos about being kind to others..even if they are now adults. We are all works in progress, none of us are perfect.

When you know better, you then have the ability to do better.

Now that you know, change life up & make kindness a priority. Teach your kids to be kind by example.

8. INFORM OTHERS OF ORGANIZATIONS THAT WANT TO HELP THEM

Post a phone number of a suicide hotline on your facebook page today and tell your facebook friends that they are valuable. You may want to simply say something like, “If you’re feeling depressed or like there’s no reason to live, PLEASE go talk to someone. I care about each and every one of you and want you to continue being in my life.”

People need to tell their family & friends that they are cared about. It DOES make a difference!

By the way, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline‘s phone number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Suicide hotline is 24/7, free, and confidential with a nationwide network of crisis centers.

Another good organization with a free hotline is The Focus on the Family Help Center. Counselors are available to listen and pray with you, as well as provide initial guidance and resources to help. Arrange to speak with a licensed Christian counselor at no cost by calling 1-855-771-HELP (4357) Monday through Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. (Mountain time).

9. CALL PEOPLE OUT

If you see that a family member or friend has been behaving differently, has made drastic changes to their appearance or lifestyle, has appeared depressed or hopeless, or has mentioned “life sucks” or has said life is “not worth living”, CALL THEM OUT ON IT…ASK if they are okay. Tell them you care about them and that you love them. Let them know that you are always there for them and they can call you anytime…day or night. Better to offend a friend than to have regret.

10. REACH OUT TO YOUR FAMILY & FRIENDS IF YOU ARE HAVING A HARD TIME AND SEEK GOD

If you are feeling depressed, reach out to your loved ones. Society tells everyone that they need to be strong…but we ALL will have times in life where we feel weak or depressed.

Don’t bottle it all in. Seek out a TRUSTED family member or friend and get the help you need.

It helps to get another person’s perspective about situations and hardships in life. It helps to know someone cares.

If you are feeling depressed, make wellness a priority…even if you don’t want to.

Pray, seek God’s heart, eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and rest, and do things in life that you previously enjoyed…especially when you do not feel like doing any of these things.

It takes time to fix what has been broken. It takes time for God to work the details out to make something good come out of the painful event you are experiencing.

Get the help you need today so you have the ability to help others through the situations they are facing tomorrow. YOU are going to be ABSOLUTE JEWEL to someone in the future who will be going through a similar heartache!

I hope all of this was helpful. If it makes a difference in even one person’s life, it was worth writing. Please know that you have VALUE! Life is worth living! 

Yes, 8% will attempt suicide. I pray that those 8% will find the HOPE they are seeking from ONE person. Their life purpose is unfolding. I sure hope someone cares about them today so they have a renewed ability to live out their life purpose tomorrow.

Be the ONE.

Each one of us knows someone who is going through depression or someone who is going through a tough time.

Let’s make the commitment to pick up the phone TODAY & call the people we love and tell them how much they mean to us. If we know someone is down, we need to check on them and make sure they are okay. Encourage family & friends this week!
Compassion is so needed in this world..everyone needs to know they matter.

If you have gone through the heartache of losing a family member or friend to suicide, I am so very sorry. I know that every time suicide is a topic in the news, it can bring intense grief back up to the surface. Praying for every family going through this tonight!

If you are having thoughts of suicide or you are going through deep depression, DO NOT wait to get help. There’s no shame in getting help! If you broke your arm, you’d seek out help. How much more important is your heart & your mind!
Please seek out help for depression…especially if you are having suicidal thoughts!
YOU MATTER!!!!!

http://www.griefbites.com ©2014