Tag Archive | grief bites

Healing From Pet Loss ~ Part 3

This post is a continuation of a series on pet loss I started writing last year.

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): Click here for book

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

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

🐩FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

Never.

Never change who you are just so someone else can accept you or find you worthy enough to love.

Never mistreat anyone who has proven their love for you. Genuine love, loyalty and concern are very hard to find.

Never allow someone else’s behavior to dictate your own personal integrity.

Never allow anyone to dictate or belittle your grief. That’s an extremely personal journey that is only between God and yourself.

Never give up your God-given convictions or opinion just because someone steamrolls you with theirs.

Never allow another person to interfere in your relationship with your spouse, child, parents, siblings, or other significant relationships. If someone genuinely loves you, they’ll protect the most important parts of your life.

Never refuse anyone kindness and basic respect.

Never allow anyone or anything to rob you of your joy.

Never allow yourself to become negative, judgmental, two-faced, dysfunctional, or bitter.

Never give up an opportunity to travel when you can afford it. Travel is one of life’s best gifts.

Never enter – or lose yourself in – a relationship where the person refuses to care enough about themselves to do their own self work.

Never go through mistreatment or abuse just because someone else doesn’t care to have good standards for how they treat others.

Never give up your dreams just because someone else has made fun of or belittled yours.

Never take your health for granted. You never know what a treasure health truly is until it’s compromised or lost.

Never allow life’s hurts to make you toxic…don’t misplace your pain onto others.

Never give up your character or beliefs just because someone doesn’t want to raise their standards.

Never allow anyone who doesn’t love you to live “rent free” inside your mind.

Never judge a book by its cover. I’ve met a lot of incredible people with brilliant hearts and super cool ideas who were rough around the edges.

Never give up or compromise your character or uniqueness just so someone can find you more like-able or appealing.

Never allow someone to pull you down. Be around those who lift you up.

Never give up hope, faith, or God’s genuine love. These 3 things will always sustain you.

Never feel bad about loving your kiddos, family, spouse, and grandkiddos to the moon and back. The only people who will have a problem with it are those who are fighting an internal battle that has nothing to do with you anyway.

Never allow anyone to degrade you. Your value and your heart are your responsibility to protect.

Never allow anyone to intrude in your goals. Only God has that right.

Never attempt to “repaint” a person after they’ve shown (or continue to prove) their true colors. When the storms of life hit again, the rain will wash off all the paint.

Never blindly believe what you hear about others. So much of negative information is rooted in insecurity, bad intentions, jealousy, and someone trying to cover their own rear.

Never feel bad about loving your pets as though they were lil humans who happen to wear fur. God loves all His creation!

Never allow someone else to make you responsible for their happiness. Happiness and joy are each person’s own responsibility and self-work.

Never put the burden of making you happy onto another person. It’s too heavy of a burden to maintain.

Never be ashamed of tears. Tears cleanse your soul.

Trust, honesty, loyalty, kindness, and faithfulness are expensive gifts. Don’t expect these precious gifts from cheap people.

Never give up or jeopardize your belief in God…or your relationship with Him…especially if it’s due to how a “Christian” treated you. There’s a huge difference between a genuine Christian and a Church Attender or church staff. A Christian loves, honors, and obeys God and loves others…a Church Attender merely makes an appearance and warms a seat each week. God will always love you more – and better – than anyone else ever can…and He NEVER advocates anyone mistreating others.

Never waste life and never take life for granted. You’re never guaranteed tomorrow.

Never allow anyone or anything to rob you of God’s Purpose for your life. God’s perfect will for your life is the most precious gift and treasure you’ll ever have on earth!

Never waste one single second of – or give up on – this precious, beautiful, extravagant, incredible, miraculous gift of life you’ve been granted. What a gorgeous gift life truly is!

Never forget this amazing truth: your best days may have not even happened yet.

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): Click here for book

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print. 

⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance and advice.

🌷

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. Finances may collapse. Family and marital issues are far too real. Illness and disabilities happen. A spouse may commit adultery and leave you heartbroken. Children may rebel or greatly mistreat you. Friends and family may betray your heart and trust. Infertility hurts your heart and hope deeply. In-laws (parents or children) may reject you. Loved ones die. People fail us…and we fail them. Plans we make crash and burn. Fairytales we’ve created in our heart 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 (after experiencing over 30 major grief events) 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’m not sure I could’ve learned them any other way.

Although hurts, frustrations, and disappointments can come from multiple sources, some originate from an unexpected source: ourselves. We break our own heart. 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, it 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 heart. 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 do more than you could ask, think, or imagine…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): Click here for book

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

7. ❤️NEW!❤️Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidanc

Two Words That Can Change EVERYTHING

The following verses all have something amazing and special in common: 1 Samuel 23:14, Genesis 8:1, 1 Kings 5:4, Acts 2:24, Psalm 49:15, Genesis 31:7, 31:24, Romans 5:8, Genesis 50:20, Genesis 31:42, Psalm 73:26, Acts 3:15, Genesis 45:8

They all contain two specific words.

And these two words – when put together – are two of the most important and powerful words we can ever hope for and say —

…”but God.

Anytime God uses these two words…you know specific, big and incredible things are going to happen:

incredible change

big protection

incredible grace

specific answers

big healing

It’s just who our God is.

I’ve experienced it time and time again throughout my life.

Today, read the above Bible verses. Think about what you are going through, and then, insert and introduce the words, “but God” to your life experience.

Example: “I may be going through grief…but God will carry me through this tough time and cause good to come out of the situation.”

Where there is deep heartache…a monumental life challenge…a situation that is causing fear or worry…marital or family conflict…a health crisis…anything…these two words are powerful and have the ability to change everything

but God.

Today, you may be going through the death of a treasured loved one…but God is going to carry you through it.

Your spouse may have come home and told you they don’t love you anymore…but God has the power to work in your spouse’s heart and heal your marriage.

You may have just found out a devastating medical diagnosis…but God knows your body inside and out and has the power to work a healing miracle.

You may be estranged from a family member…but God has the power to bring peace and harmony to the relationship.

You may be struggling with addiction (or the addiction of a loved one)…but God is bigger than any addiction.

You may be struggling financially…but God can open up blessings on you when you honor your finances His way.

You may have been deeply wronged, abused, or mistreated by others…but God is the One who sees your tears, places those precious tears in a bottle, and records all of your heartache in His book (Psalm 56:8).

No matter what we go through or experience in life…the words “but God” always apply.

God loves you.

God cares for you.

God wants to help and bless you.

You will never find anyone who loves and cares for you more than God – and He will always redeem and make things new…especially when we place each situation in His hands.

Note: sometimes God doesn’t change things how we want to see things changed…and God’s change happens in His way and His timing. So don’t lose hope. Ever. God will never do something halfheartedly, hurriedly, or incompletely. I’ve found Him to be 100% faithful in every situation. And many times, God changed me first before He changed a situation. Always remember: He’s got you.

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2019 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

More encouragement on this topic:

https://griefbites.com/2016/02/17/7-ways-to-receive-new-mercies-favor-from-god-through-lifes-storms/

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

https://griefbites.com/2017/12/23/7-important-things-to-remember-through-a-growing-season/

https://griefbites.com/2015/12/27/delighting-in-god/

https://griefbites.com/2017/04/12/where-are-you-god-2/

https://griefbites.com/2017/02/17/seasons-of-life-when-life-hurts/

https://griefbites.com/2018/02/14/a-special-prayer-for-your-marriage/

https://griefbites.com/2018/02/07/grief-when-no-closure-can-be-found/

https://griefbites.com/2018/03/21/when-god-doesnt-give-you-your-fairytale-2/

https://griefbites.com/2016/06/22/bringing-your-hard-questions-to-god-an-extra-crispy-collision/

https://griefbites.com/2016/03/20/mourning-those-who-are-still-alive/

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

7. ❤️NEW!❤️Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance.

A Special Prayer For Your Marriage

Marriage today can be tough. There are so many attacks on marriages and so many day-to-day challenges.

If you are going through marriage problems, please know that God truly cares. Take some time today to get alone with God and pray for your marriage. If you know of a family member or friend who is going through a tough time in their marriage, intercede in prayer for their marriage, too!

This prayer by Beth Moore is one of my favorites! God used this specific prayer in my own marriage over a decade ago to bring about great change.

If you are married, after you check out this prayer, take some time this weekend to show your spouse how much you love them…thank them for all they do…plan a special time with them…remember your love story and the days of when you fell in love with each other.

With God, there is always HOPE!!!

A Valentine’s Prayer by Beth Moore

PRAY (out loud if possible):

My powerful and glorious and holy God, with everything I have and everything I am in Christ, I come before Your Throne to intercede on behalf of marriages, especially mine. Lord, I come before You with complete confidence because I know with irrefutable certainty that I am praying according to Your will. Father, You are PRO-MARRIAGE. You are FOR US. And if You are for us, who indeed can be against us? Lord, Your enemy the devil is waging full scale war on the marriages of Your own children. Havoc resides in the earthly house of God. Our churches will only be as strong as the families that inhabit them.

If not for Your Spirit living within us, Satan’s psychological warfare would be almost too much to bear and his lies too sly to discern. We cry out to You, Lord! I ask You to rise from Your Throne in & on behalf of each of our homes and marriages and cause our enemies to scatter violently. Open our eyes to the deceit of the enemy that tempts spouses to think they need something – or someone – brand new. Help them to see that it would be an unending cycle of newness always wearing off and demanding something deeper to sustain it. Renew us, Lord! You created marriage and You alone can sustain it. Breathe fresh life into each of our marriages. You are a master at resurrection life. Raise marriages from the dead, O Lord! Reclaim those that have given up. Put a holy tenacity in them to refuse to let go. Give each spouse eyes only for each other. Cause each husband to thrill to the touch of his wife. Cause each wife to thrill to the touch of her husband. Renew a fiery passion in their hearts toward one another. Fill each wife with the desire and obedience to treat her man like he’s the real man You created him to be. Forgive us our serious trespasses of dishonoring or belittling our spouses in any way. Forgive us for making our men secondary priorities to our children. Help us to see that the best thing we could ever do for our children is to have a wonderful relationship with their father.

Cause each man to be lavish in his demonstrations of love toward his wife. Open his eyes to see how hard she works and how badly she needs his blessing. In turn, open her eyes to the pressures that fall daily upon her man and enable her to love him in a way that soothes and relieves him. CLAIM OUR HOMES AND OUR MARRIAGES, LORD! I know You can perform miracles over the worst of marriages. You performed countless wonders over my own. Lord, in Jesus’ Name, You bring to a stunning halt every weapon forged & formed against my marriage & each couple’s marriage and every scheme the enemy may already have under way. Bind every single person and subsequent action that may be coming against my marriage & family, or one of these marriages & families. Halt any hint of extra-marital flirtation or fantasy in the powerful Name of Jesus. Cause any “other” person that has become dangerously attractive to a married spouse to now become utterly repulsive to them…and cause our spouses to become utterly repulsive to the “other” person. Empower every person at risk to flee for his or her life from sexual temptation, impurity, and immorality. Make each spouse TRUE, Lord, in heart, soul, mind, and spirit.

God, I lift this to You with great urgency and fervency. Enough is enough! Enough Christian marriages have disintegrated! I don’t just pray for couples to stay together. I pray for them to LOVE staying together. I pray for the return of laughter, flirtation, desire, and life-long commitment. Interrupt mediocrity with fresh fire. We are all weak in our natural selves, Lord, and we know we’ll never have perfect marriages and homes but we are fully capable in Your sovereign power to have good ones. Healthy ones. FUN ONES. L-A-S-T-I-N-G ONES! Lord, the beauty of praying in Your will is knowing that every single couple who desires and receives it can have it. Every couple can be healed. Every couple can be in love again. Every family can be healed & whole if they are willing. Make EVERY SPOUSE & FAMILY MEMBER willing! I offer this intercession with the absolute belief that You initiated it, Lord. You do not waste time nor effort. If You prompted it, You meant to answer it. Now, compassionate and wonderful Father, do what only You can do. Out-do everything we ask. Do more than we could think to request so that Your great Name can be magnified above all else. I set before You every marriage represented by those who read this entry. Cause every couple & their family members to have a glorious Head-on collision with You, Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. Nothing is too difficult for You. My prayers are unmistakably heard and my thanks already appropriate because I offer each of these petitions in the incomparable and delivering Name of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Check out Beth Moore’s page for more encouragement: https://www.lproof.org

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2018 Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book):Click here for book

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance

Grief: When No Closure Can Be Found

Going through grief is excruciating.

Having to go through a grief experience where there is no ability to have closure is terrible.

There have been grief experiences in my life where the grief had a beginning and an end — an opportunity for closure. Then there were other grief experiences that were incredibly painful and felt debilitatingly endless — no opportunity for closure at all. To be honest, in addition to many grief events, I’ve been on two seemingly never ending roller coasters of grief the past 10 years for one situation and 3 1/2 years for the other one…and the heartache of six family members going through cancer at the same time.

I’ve experienced just about every emotion known to mankind and I’ve had to work through these extremely tough thoughts and emotions so they wouldn’t drown me.

I’ve struggled and wrestled spiritually with God with many questions:

“Why would you allow this?”

“Why didn’t You prevent this?”

“Are You there?”

“Do You truly care?”

“Will you please grant my family and me a brand new season…a season of goodness and healing?”

Lots and lots of questions.

Ultimately, God doesn’t owe me answers to any of my questions. God is Godand I am not. He understands the entirety of each situation…He knows the good that will eventually come out of them (Romans 8:28)…and the purpose for each of these situations, too. God understands what He is accomplishing through the tough situations…and in each heart involved in these tough events.

These grief situations seemingly have no closure…and no possibility for closure.

One of these situations caused a dearly loved family member to become an atheist and several family members to drop out of church…which created even more heartfelt, agonizing questions from me to God.

I’ve thought about not only these situations, but all of the situations I’ve experienced in life that I’d label “No Closure Grief Events.” No closure grief events are tough events because it is very difficult to find any closure…the emotions that stem from them can eat you alive. They’re exceptionally tough because it takes a lot of faith to get through them.

Some of the most common No Closure Grief Events are:

  • terminal illness, traumatic brain injuries, permanent disability, debilitating autoimmune illnesses, mental illness issues, etc. – (yourself or a loved one)
  • guilt and regrets you can’t make right
  • unspoken grief events
  • a devastating diagnosis
  • not getting to say “goodbye” to a loved one who died
  • when someone severely violates your trust
  • when a loved one attempts or commits suicide…and you can’t get through to them or couldn’t prevent it
  • when there is a major betrayal in a relationship
  • family, extended family, step-family, marital, or parent/child conflict…and also conflict with any of these that began post-grief
  • separation or divorce – especially if it’s not wanted by one spouse…or adultery
  • a family member rejecting God or becoming an atheist
  • abortion (or grieving a loved one’s choice to get an abortion)
  • church hurt or church abuse
  • rejection (or abandonment) by a family member or loved one
  • situations of assault or abuse – physical, emotional, spiritual, physical, or sexual
  • an ongoing job issue…or being wrongly fired or laid off
  • not getting to say “goodbye” to a loved one who chose to leave
  • not getting to confront or make something right with someone who deeply hurt you…or that someone refusing to do the right thing or make amends
  • a situation where justice did not prevail
  • unfair life events
  • when someone mistreats you, attempts to harm your reputation, or lies about you
  • any harsh life or justice situation where closure is difficult

So what can you do?

God has been teaching me so much these past few years. I haven’t enjoyed the lessons, but I sure have learned…and applied…some very valuable lessons and truths.

Have there been times I’ve wanted to quit? Oh yeah! Many.

Have I been bitter? For a season, I sure was…Absolutely.

Have I been tempted to be mad at God? Yes. I’m thankful for His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

Have I wanted to speak publicly about the situations…and share my thoughts, heart, deep hurts, the incredible injustice, and my opinions? Definitely.

I think anytime you (or a loved one) have experienced a major grief event, especially a No Closure Grief Event…emotions are sure to show up. Some emotions may even surprise you.

When there is no closure, the trick – and what is most needed – is to trust God and not our emotions…to believe God is sovereign in spite of what a situation looks like…to fully fall into God’s arms and realize He truly is good…to know and fully trust that God holds everyone accountable and no one gets away with anything – even if it appears there has been zero conviction or consequences.

Maybe you’re going through a “no closure grief event” right now. Maybe you’ve also pleaded with God for answers through many tears…and have even prayed throughout many months or years. Perhaps you feel like giving up.

I highly encourage you to never give up!

I highly encourage you to never fall away from your relationship with God!

One day, God will give you the gift of closure…the Bible promises it.

God doesn’t mind our questions and pleadings…His heart is big enough to take on our woundedness, sufferings, and hardships…and He truly and genuinely cares about every grief event and situation we go through.

We may not be able to find the closure we need, but God created our hearts – He fully knows and loves us. He will be making every wrong right. The situations we go through do not catch God by surprise. And He will never allow us to go through a situation unless He realizes the situation can be turned into something great. It may not happen overnight…it may even take years…but God can turn your worst events into something of great value.

Our job is to praise God through the storms we face…to deepen and prove our salvation is genuine and real…to love and forgive others…to live in peace…to embrace God, our grief, and our hardships…to learn through everything we face – the good and the bad – and to love God with all of our heart and to sincerely rest in Him.

Today, lay down your toughest grief events – every grief experience – at God’s feet. Cast all your burdens and cares onto Him. Tell God you are choosing to trust Him with everything…especially the situations that are breaking your heart! Leave your hurts, heartaches, burdens, situations, disappointments, dreams, goals, expectations, emotions, and grief experiences with Him.

When the enemy reminds you of a no closure grief event, immediately take your thoughts and feelings to God. It is imperative that you talk through your feelings with God and release those tough emotions into His more than capable hands.

We may not be able to find closure in our present circumstances, but we can find closure through leaving our situations in God’s care.

Seek God with all your heart! Pour out your heart to God as you spend time with Him today!

He loves you.

He truly cares.

Entrust your situation with Him and trust His great heart!

(UPDATE: On 11/1/18, after four very painful years (and a lot of tears, praying, and fasting), God has healed one of these tough situations!🎉…I continue to fervently pray for the remaining 11 year situation and two of the six family members who are still battling cancer.)

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):

Click here for book

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

7. ❤️NEW!❤️Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Valentine’s Day (available February 2019)

⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance and advice.

An Important Question To Prevent Future Heartache & Pitfalls In Your Life

A few years ago, I went on vacation with some of my extended family and stayed at a hotel where the entire back portion is primarily glass windows and glass doors.

This wasn’t a foreseen problem…

…until I got distracted by a motorized luggage cart while walking along a path at the hotel.

As I tried to be polite to the driver of the cart by moving over, I tripped over the sidewalk…and then as I tried to correct my fall, I tripped over a huge rock and fell flat on my face.

Rock – 1

Kim – 0

The fact is, I simply didn’t see the tiny variation in the sidewalk…and apparently, I didn’t see the rock either.

My fall was not graceful or quick. I actually skidded a few feet after hitting the ground.

And the glass windows, doors, and veranda that weren’t previously a problem? Well, they became problematic because EVERYONE who was out on the ground level veranda, and everyone who had a view out of the windows, patios, and doors, got one heck of a show – a free comedy show, compliments of me!

I could hear a few people laughing.

Not that I blamed them because I’m sure it was quite the sight. Even though I was extremely embarrassed as I scrambled to get up, I even laughed at myself because the rock was huge. The variation in the sidewalk wasn’t near as noticeable, but the rock was unmistakable! Both were blind spots to me.

It’s the same with the “blind spots” and “pitfalls” we each have in our own individual lives…most everyone can see them – they’re truly very obvious, while we personally can only see a few.

Some are subtle (like the sidewalk); some are huge (like the rock)all can create a crazy amount of regrets, grief, heartache, destruction, unnecessary challenges, and hardships in life.

So what are blind spots and pitfalls?

Blind spots – an area where a person’s view is obstructed or in which a person lacks understanding or impartiality.

Pitfalls – a hidden or unsuspected danger or difficulty.

Everybody has blind spots and potential pitfalls. It’s so very important to ask people (the ones who you know care about you) what yours are. They can prevent an outrageous amount of grief and life challenges.

Each year, I choose a few trusted people to ask a very important question of:

Can you please share with me what you would consider my blind spots…the irritating habits, hang ups, insensitivities, and character flaws I may or may not be aware ofand do you see any potential pitfalls I could experience in the future that I can’t – or I’m not willing to – foresee?”

And I always tell them to be completely honest!

I haven’t always enjoyed the feedback, because it’s truly not fun hearing hard truths. But the truth greatly matters to me!

You may be asking (like I did when I first started doing this): who seriously wants to hear family members and close friends picking on you and telling you bad things about yourself?

The Bible reveals the answer: a wise person does. And couldn’t we all use more wisdom? I know I can!

PSALM‬ ‭141:5‬, Let the righteous thoughtfully strike (correct) me–it is a kindness done to encourage my spiritual maturity. It is the choicest anointing oil on the head; Let my head not refuse to accept and acknowledge and learn from it…”

PROVERBS 27:6, Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”

PROVERBS 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

PROVERBS 19:20, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”

When I first began asking this annual question, I seriously got my fe-fe’s hurt…but then I began to see the exceptional value of asking this question…and I valued the answers even more!

The answers to this question always allow me to self-reflect and even allows me to avoid many possible bad outcomes down the road. (If you don’t know what to fix or prevent, how can you fix, prevent, or improve it?)

A few of the answers took me by surprise. Some even broke my heart.

With every honest answer received, it is imperative to find a way to change, improve, or create a way of doing things better.

Our blind spots may truly affect others…but they may not say anything.

I never would’ve had the ability to understand how my blind spots were affecting others, so I am beyond grateful I asked. Had I not asked, the results may not have shown up until irreversible damage had been done.

When people give you feedback, listen.

Truly listen.

Never resent anyone or their feedback. I genuinely appreciate them because they allow me to make both major and minor corrections so I can continually improve (and safeguard):

  • my relationship with God
  • my marriage and family
  • my character
  • my heart
  • my relationships with family & friends
  • my ministry
  • time
  • habits
  • goals
  • …pretty much every area of life!
  • Coming to terms with truthful realities vs limited perceptions is so important! It can be very difficult for people – myself included – to truly see and admit their flaws and blind spots…but who wouldn’t want to prevent pitfalls?

    I absolutely do not get mad if someone gives me feedback I don’t enjoy or like. I am the one who is asking for honest answers…so I understand what I signed up for: absolute truth.

    If you choose to do this incredibly revealing activity, don’t become upset or hold it against someone for sharing important truths with you. They truly are trying to help you be the best you can be!

    It is a gift!

    Kindly thank trusted family members, co-workers, fellow church members, and friends for their honest feedback, write down what they share with you, and then consider what they told you as if it were gold! It is gold!

    PROVERBS 20:15, There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”

    The truths they share will allow you the treasure of making better life decisions.

    Better decisions = better life & relationships

    …And absolutely a better YOU!

  • I look forward to asking this annual question and look forward to hearing honest feedback from my family and friends later this month.
  • It is always a good thing to have truth … truths I may not yet see … be revealed to me so I can prevent pitfalls, and potential grief or destruction, in my life. I am so very grateful to have family and friends in my life who care enough about me to prevent my next fall!
  • And just as there were multiple glass windows and doors at that hotel, the people we love dearly in our life all have a front row view of our character and actions. What we do…our choices…how we respond to others…it all matters.
  • We’re all leaving a legacy, and asking for truth about blind spots ensures we have the opportunity to leave the best possible legacy we can!
  • What family members and friends do you trust enough to ask about your blind spots? The first time, you may ask them to go a little easy on you. The following year, ask for total honesty!
  • Gratitude & many blessings,
  • Kim
  • (Sorry for the misplaced random bullet points…Wordpress said this glitch should be resolved within the month!)
  • ©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):Click here for book

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

    ⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to help and encourage others by sharing our personal experiences we have gone through with our own personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or pastor for guidance and advice.

    The Incredible Power & Responsibility Of Words

    Words (spoken, written, or used) can have a huge influence and lasting legacy:

    • in families and marriages
    • at workplaces
    • in schools, universities, and education facilities
    • while talking or texting on the phone
    • when commenting on social media
    • when communicating with friends
    • at church or when ministering to others
    • when dealing with business issues

    Words are so very important, especially during grief and stressful times. And words, whether positive or negative, can have such a deep, far-reaching, and lasting impact.

    Children especially believe what a parent says to and about them. Did you know that over 90 percent of prison inmates were told by parents while growing up, “They’re going to put you in jail.” On the other hand, famous painter Pablo Picasso once said, “My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.”

    People tend to live up to what is said or continually spoken about them..it truly can become their inner dialogue. What we say and think about ourselves can have an affect as well.

    Be it positive or negative, good or bad, words certainly have power.

    Years ago, I heard a story that truly made an impression on my heart. The story used a feather pillow as an analogy for words. The story basically said words are like the feathers in a feather pillow…and when words have been spoken, written, or used, it’s just like busting open a feather pillow on a windy day.

    Once words are spoken – whether it’s gossip, anger, or any other negative use of words – those words are “blown” everywhere…it’s virtually impossible, like the feathers of a pillow on a windy day, to retrieve all of your words back. On the other hand, if you use your words in a positive way, those feathers are beautifully blown in multiple directions. Our words truly make a huge impact!

    I’ve had the joy of receiving some very positive, kind, thoughtful, loving, and encouraging words during my lifetime…and I have also been the recipient of some very harsh, hurtful, condescending, rude, and damaging words, as well.

    I think we all have.

    We each have a voice, or what I like to call a “microphone,” and with that microphone comes incredible responsibility. Whether we like it or not, our microphone is always “on”…there is no “off” button – meaning the people around us hear loud and clear our words. Perhaps more than we realize. This is especially true with children, our family, closest friends, and peers.

    Most people…unless they are an absolute saint…have used the power of their words in not only positive ways, but negative ways as well during their lifetime.

    Life happens. Stress brings out the worst of us. We speak before we think. We have a disagreement with a loved one. We have a rushed work deadline. Someone becomes snippy with us first. A car cuts us off on the highway. There are numerous opportunities to misuse our words in any given week.

    There are also times we use our words to bring joy or show love. We are there for a family member or friend who is hurting. We encourage someone who needs lifted up. We share important words we know others need to hear, “I love you” … “You’re important to me” … “You can do it!” … “Great job!”

    My parents always told my siblings and me as we were growing up, “Make your words sweet…you may have to eat them someday.” I have found this to be very true!

    So what if you have misused or harmed others with the power, responsibility and influence of your words?

    You can’t do anything about the past…other than sincerely apologize and make things right…but you can choose to commit to making your words sweet from this moment on.

    Today, let’s make a commitment to use all of our words in positive ways:

    …to build and not destroy.

    …to encourage and not dishearten.

    …to edify and not damage.

    …to love and not hate.

    …to bridge and not disconnect.

    …to create harmony and not discordance.

    …to empathize and not wound.

    …to create understanding and not chaos.

    …to calm and not provoke.

    …to motivate and not tear down.

    …to accept and not reject.

    …to bless and not hurt.

    …to be a vessel of positivity and refuse negativity.

    Who can you encourage and praise with your words today?

    Who do you know you’ve hurt or offended and need to make things right?

    Who do you need to take the time to better empathize with or understand?

    Who needs to see a glimpse of hope and kindness through you today?

    Who needs to be built up with your words?

    What ways can your words be a vessel of positivity to others?

    What changes need made so your words and “microphone” leave a legacy you can be proud of?

    Words are one of the most powerful things we possess. Let’s determine to continually use them wisely from this day forward.❤️

    A few Bible verses to encourage you:

    🌼“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”

    ~Proverbs 18:21

    🌸“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

    ~ Ephesians 4:29

    🌺“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

    ~ Proverbs 15:1

    🌷“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

    ~ Proverbs 16:24

    💐“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

    ~ Psalm 19:14

    🌹“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

    ~ James 1:26

    🌻“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

    ~ Colossians 4:6

    🌸“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”

    ~ Colossians 3:8

    🌼“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

    ~ Proverbs 25:11

    ©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):Click here for book

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    7 Important Things To Remember Through A Tough Growing Season

    Have you ever been through a time in your life where everything seemed overwhelming?

    Maybe your marriage, parenting, or family relationships were less than ideal. Perhaps work wasn’t going the way you wanted it to. You may have even shook your head and wondered how in the world you ended up in the place or situation you were in.

    If life is less than ideal, or you are experiencing major problems, I can guarantee you are either currently in the middle of a growing season – or you are headed towards one.

    For years, I thought life difficulties, grief, or life challenges were things to resent. As I’ve grown through each event of grief, life difficulties or trials, I have altered my thinking to see them for the valuable gifts they truly are.

    I must say that I do not like grief, life challenges, or difficulties – and I most certainly do not enjoy them – but I do highly prize the growth, wisdom, depth, and life lessons I have learned and gained through these uncomfortable, painful, trying, sometimes annoying, and irritating times.

    When faced with a bad season in life, you only have three choices:

    1. Choose to stay permanently upset or depressed about life’s circumstances.
    2. Choose to stay stagnant, seek to avoid, or “check out” in an attempt to escape the reality of the situation.
    3. Choose to purposely make it a growing season – a season of sheer growth and positive change – that has the potential to improve your life…in time.
  • Events in life, as well as having to make choices like these due to tough events, can be totally unfair.
  • I wish nobody ever had to go through heartache, trials, life challenges, grief, or hardships…but since we all have to go through hard events in life, we may as well grow through these bad times. At least something positive can come out of life’s heartbreaking times.
  • If someone could’ve given me some valuable advice while going through tough growing seasons, I would’ve super appreciated being told 7 vital things:
  • 1. This. terrible. time. won’t. always. be. so. painful. Like most people, I’ve been through intense, major, life-sucking, painful grief events, ones I seriously thought I’d never make it through. God has a 100% track record of getting me through these tough times though, and has even redeemed some of these terrible events that seemed so hopeless. Even though your heartache feels like it will swallow you alive, please know that – with God’s help – life can once again become something you enjoy and love to live! Hang in there! Gain all of the help you need so you’ll one day have the ability to view your tough situation in the rear view mirror and realize you made it through!
  • 2. A less than ideal season of your life is a phenomenal time to grow. Nobody likes to think about how they can grow through grief or a life challenge – especially when grief is fresh or they’re right in the middle of a huge heartache or problem. Sometimes, it takes energy and extreme effort to get through each hour of the day. It’s like someone being in the middle of a horrific tornado and someone exclaims, “Just think how you can rebuild your home!” In time, after the dust settles, you can begin to seek to rebuild and heal your broken heart and life…but most don’t want to hear this initially. The times I’ve grown the most, were times I had been through a major grief event. It didn’t happen initially, and it totally took time, but I realized I couldn’t stay on a sinking ship of grief that was threatening to drown my life, either. I had to kick my way to the top – with God’s strength and help – so I could finally “breathe” again…and then the choice to grow through each situation became important to maintain that breath. Growing spiritually is extremely important, too. Taking time to talk with God each day and read His Word truly helps throughout a growing season! Always seek growth when given the opportunity to do so!

    3. It’s truly the best time to find out who you are and who/what you want to become. Grief, hardships, and challenges can greatly change a person…in positive and negative ways. It is key – extremely important – to choose to allow these hard times to evolve you for the better. One of my son’s friends went through major betrayal and a bitter divorce (through no fault of her own) a few years ago. She painstakingly took the opportunity and time to evaluate…and continually reevaluate her life and situation…until she majorly improved her life! She excels in the career she began after her divorce and just bought her very first home. She reminds me of the saying, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a beautiful butterfly.” It is each person’s choice to remain a caterpillar in the cocoon or to emerge as a new butterfly. Purposely find out who you are and what you would like your life to be…and then create the courage you need to make it happen!

    4. A growing season reveals the truth about your relationships. I always say there are four times in a person’s life that will reveal the quality of a relationship: when you go through a grief experience or major loss, when success or extremely good things happen to/for you, when you vacation with them, and when you experience failure, an embarrassing situation, or defeat. During these times, it proves a person’s character, and more importantly, who cares enough to stick around…and, unfortunately, who doesn’t. It stinks to find out who your true family/friends are, but in the long run, it truly is a gift. It’s painful to realize a loved one doesn’t have your back, but being in – or remaining in – a fake, unloyal, or inauthentic relationship is much worse. Allow God, and life events, to weed out poor relationships…it makes room for much better ones in the future!

    5. A growing season offers the opportunity to refine your thought life like never before. I’m not sure a person truly knows what they think or believe until they have it tested. It’s easy to say you have an opinion or viewpoint about any given topic; it’s a whole other ballgame when you’re experiencing that situation for yourself! I have found some trials were what God specifically used to tweak and change my thoughts and opinions that needed changed. It’s a humbling process, but God will continually refine our thoughts and opinions if we’re humble enough to allow Him to.

    6. In a difficult growing season you will find out what doesn’t work in life…and what will. A growing season allows you the incredible perspective to find out what can and will work as you figure out your new normal. Some of the best pastors, executives, situations, marriages, parents, lives, relationships, businesses, inventions, and technology were born out of an extremely trying time that was filled with mistakes, failure, misery, and pressure. The frustrations that come from a tough growing season can actually be a blessing in disguise – if you seek to learn and change. Although it is extremely painful, allow God to break and refine you when going through a grief event, trial, or life challenge. Just like refining coal into a diamond takes time, pressure, and high heat, it’s the same for us. Never stop at a “coal” stage during your grief, life challenges, or trials…press forward and cooperate with God so He can turn you and your situation into a “diamond.” Allow Him to refine you and your life!

    7. A growing season reveals what’s in your heart and reveals your true conscience. It’s much easier to have a good attitude, great character, and a clear conscience when everything in life is going well. Once things stop going according to plan, some unsavory truths may begin to surface. I can’t say it enough: grief, hardships, life challenges, and trials are events and situations that reveal the truth about every area of a person and their life. Each trial, heartache, and challenge is a vibrant litmus test that powerfully removes all facades and untruths, and reveals motives, actions, and the contents of each person’s heart. When you go through grief, life challenges, or a fiery trial, it is so important to transition from resenting it to learning from it. When your beliefs, thoughts, opinions, and even faith are tested, you have the life-changing opportunity to seek God. When someone goes through a growing season, they have the opportunity to become much stronger spiritually, mentally, and emotionally through these intense life events. Continually learn from these times, pay attention – and be truthful with yourself – as to what’s in your heart, the genuine condition of your character, and change, improve, and refine your heart, spirit, character and conscience. If your conscience needs to cleared, and cleaned out, take the needed steps to do so.

    Growing seasons are certainly tough to navigate through! They can leave you exhausted and wondering when life will get better. God is the Ultimate GPS to guide you through your season successfully.

    It can be tempting to try to rush through the hard seasons. Seek to learn, evolve, and better your life as you make the most of each growing season!

    (So sorry for the misplaced, random bullet points in this blog post. It’s a glitch that WordPress said they’re working on.😊)

  • 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): Click here for book

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

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

    🌷FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

    6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

    7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

    ⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

    ⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance.

    When Church Hurts At Christmas

    Christmas and Easter are two times of each year that most people who don’t regularly go to church will attend.

    I’ve had many people share with me that it hurts too much to attend regularly…and most of the time, it’s because they’ve been hurt by their church.

    I hear many stories of how people’s churches were truly there for them during their toughest life events…and I do believe majority of churches genuinely care. I also hear stories of the rare churches who have totally missed the mark as well…and the aftermath is awful.

    There are numerous reasons why people have felt hurt or betrayed by the Church.

    Today, I’d like to extend a heartfelt and sincere apology to anyone who has ever been hurt, offended, or wounded by their church or by other Christians.

    When people are hurt by the Church, God’s heart hurts too. God never approves of any of His followers hurting or mistreating others. In fact, God’s greatest command is for Christians to love Him and to love others. God fully expects His people to treat others how THEY would want to be treated.

    God has very clear commands of how to not only treat others, but also how to work out conflicts within the church.

    If somebody in the church has hurt you, please know that they willone day answer to God. Please also know that God genuinely loves you and He doescare about the injustice you suffered. He will be making it up to you one day.

    We have just a few days before Christmas services will begin. I have three things I’d like to ask of everyone who is reading this post:

    1. If you have been deeply wounded by the Church, I ask you to please give God and church another chance. You don’t have to go back to the church that wounded you. It’s totally okay to attend a new place of worship if that is more comfortable. There are many churches that offer online services too. See what God wants to say to your heart this weekend. He truly does love you and miss you!
    2. If you are a Christian, ask God right now to reveal to your heart anyone you have deeply wounded or offended. I ask you to have the courage to reach out to them and make things right. This can be scary…I know! I’ve had to humble myself and call people that God has placed on my heart…and it wasn’t fun. BUT, if we truly want to please God, then it’s not about us…it’s about Him — and His Word clearly commands us to have the integrity – and favorable witness – to make things right when we know we have hurt or offended others. Who might you need to call today?
    3. Consider the people you used to see all of the time at church but you haven’t seen them in a long time. Call them and ask how they’re doing, and invite them to attend Christmas services with you.

    People truly want to feel genuinely valued and cared about. It truly makes a huge difference!

    If you know of someone who is grieving or someone who has been wounded, please consider reaching out to them. You never know what God will accomplish through your compassion and kindness.

    The remainder of this Christmas season, let us pray for those who are grieving, those who are hurting, those who may feel lost or displaced…and let us reach out to them. This truly is one of the greatest gifts we can give to Jesus for His birthday!

    May we all seek to truly honor the Lord and celebrate His birthday this weekend!

    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.”

    Romans 14:12, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”

    James 4:17, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

    ⭐️A few of my favorite churches to watch remotely or online are:

    ⭐️ http://saddleback.com/ko-kr/watch

    ⭐️ https://www.intouch.org/watch

    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): Click here for book

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

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

    🎄FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    🎄❤️🎄

    ❤️🎄❤️

    Grief & Holidays ~ helpful tip #1

    Throughout the next few weeks, I will be offering holiday tips that I hope will be encouraging and helpful to your heart.

    After going through multiple family deaths, the holidays became a very painful and challenging time for my family and me.

    As I share (in these next holiday posts) what my family and I have learned through the process of creating special, meaningful, and eventually enjoyable holidays again – in spite of grief – I hope all who read these helpful tips will be encouraged and comforted!

    Grief can definitely make the holidays excruciatingly painful to get through…but there truly is hope.

    Having experienced the death of family members on major holidays (Thanksgiving and Easter) and the day after Valentine’s Day and day before Christmas, I truly understand how challenging holidays can be.

    To be honest, I never thought our family would ever have the ability to enjoy these particular holidays again…ever…but we finally were able to after navigating through tremendous grief.

    My first holiday tip is:

    Grieve how you need to grieve and be kind to your heart.

    Do not put on yourself the extra pressure of having the “perfect” holidays.

    Just like you are having to create a “new normal” in day-to-day life, you may need to create a “new holiday season” – or the freedom to do holidays differently for a season, too.

    Creating a “new normal” doesn’t make anything “normal“…oh, how I hate that word…yet I like to compare “creating new normals” to inflating a life raft: it doesn’t make anything immediately better, but it can prevent a griever from completely drowning.

    When going through grief, holidays can lose their previous joy, sparkle and specialness.

    •Holiday meals can be excruciating since a much-loved family member is no longer here to enjoy loved ones, the meal, or the holiday. Their presence is sorely missed!

    • Suddenly, the tree that used to shine bright holding treasured ornaments and memories can now bring about intense sadness.

    • Baking treats and making favorite dishes you used to bake or make for a loved one who is no longer here can now bring about incredible heartache.

    • Old familiar traditions can now bring intense pain or anxiety.

    • Certain Christmas songs can be tied to a special memory, remind you of a loved one, or can bring sudden tears out of nowhere.

    • And seeing happy couples and cheerful families—on social media or in real life—can bring about feelings of depression, hopelessness, anger, or maybe even envy.

    The holidays can be a huge reminder of the great treasure you lost.

    It is very painful navigating through the holidays when going through the death of a loved one, adultery or divorce, miscarriage/infertility, financial or job loss, family/marital/stepfamily conflict, physical or mental illness of a loved one, addiction issues, family rebellion or estrangement, illness, or other painful losses.

    …And it can be extra painful and burdensome when family and friends do not understand or don’t agree with how you are handling your grief.

    Explain to family and friends how the holidays are going to be tough on you and lovingly ask for their help, support, love, understanding and compassion.

    Some grievers may be able to do all of their usual holiday traditions, while others may not…BOTH are perfectly fine!

    Pray about and consider what you need to do, or not do, this holiday season and come to a place of peace about it.

    It doesn’t mean it will always be like this…(just because you choose something this year doesn’t mean it will be cemented forever)…it simply means you are doing what you need to do THIS holiday season to make it through the holidays.

    Communication is key! Talk about your plans and how you are feeling with your loved ones, to avoid hurt feelings or conflict.

    Compromise may be needed when choosing what to do (and not do) during the holidays…but it is important to grieve however you need to grieve.

    Ideally, it is best to come to decisions where your grief is genuinely honored…while also factoring in honoring your time with remaining loved ones.

    Just like there is no such thing as “cookie cutter” grief, not every griever or family will handle the holidays the exact same way either. Each must communicate and find what’s best for their own individual family. It may include fully celebrating holidays as usual…or changing things up a little…or beginning a few new traditions…or completely changing everything this year…or going out of town, on a vacation, or to visit family who live out of town for a change of scenery. There are many ways to create a peaceful, meaningful holiday during times of grief.

    If you have family and friends who love you, support you, and encourage you, what an amazing, incredible gift that truly is! Be sure to thank them for all of the ways they bring encouragement, meaning, and love to your life.

    Grief is so unique and personal – and affects so many facets of your life – it isn’t a cookie-cutter experience. It’s a journey that is between God and you – and, at times, those you live with.

    Grief isn’t designed for everyone to have input or an opinion about it.

    …You don’t “get over it”…

    …You can’t go around it…

    …You can’t fly above it…

    …You have to go through it…

    …And there isn’t an ending to grief while on earth because grief will resurface from time to time. As long as there is love, grief will lovingly linger…because love doesn’t die.

    Yes, grieve however you need to grieve and be kind to your heart. As long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others…and you’re not hurting the heart of God…your grief is totally appropriate.

    I am praying everyone who is going through a sad or tough time will have a meaningful holiday season. And I truly hope everyone is surrounded by understanding and caring loved ones who will offer encouragement and kindness the next few weeks.

    It can take time to find a new holiday normal, so please don’t be hard on yourself. It takes time, effort, and grace to work out a broken heart and to pick up the pieces of a shattered life.

    Grief can be excruciatingly heartbreaking during the holidays, but through genuinely remembering and honoring your treasured deceased loved ones, honoring your grief, and showing love to your remaining loved ones – while working through your grief – holidays can hold great joy again…in time!

    I wish each of you a peaceful Christmas season that is filled with comfort, encouragement, and hope.

    With God’s help, the holidays can be meaningful again.

    Gratitude & blessings,
    Kim

    ©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

    🎄Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas, http://bible.com/r/3V5

    6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

    7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

    ⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

    ⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance.

    The Yo-Yo of Grief & Holidays

    Most grievers go through…and understand…the yo-yo cycles of grief.

    You dread the holidays…then you desperately want to have the ability to enjoy the holidays…then you agonize about the holidays…then you go through a period of time where you just wish holidays could be normal again…and then you may feel guilty when you do enjoy the holidays…then you feel weird…then come to peace about it…and the grief cycle can spin you again out of nowhere…and so on…and so on…and so on.

    The thing about grief: nobody who is going through grief signed up for it.

    The harsh emotional turmoil.

    The guilt.

    The regrets.

    The crazy emotions.

    Nobody in their right mind would even wish it on their most annoying enemy. I know I wouldn’t.

    My holiday yo-yo began several years ago…and I sure have learned a lot about God, grief, life, family, friends, and overcoming grief ever since.

    Several years ago, my 22 year old sister died on Thanksgiving Day.

    It shouldn’t have happened…she had everything going for her: she was married and she was a mom to three beautiful children who she loved with all of her heart. She adored and enjoyed being a mom so much that she was trying to have another baby. An amazing pianist, she had taken piano lessons at a university since elementary school since no teachers in our area could keep up with her talent. An accomplished baker, she and I had been going to several baking and candy workshops since we were in the process of opening our very own bakery and chocolatier…that way we could always have a flexible schedule and have our kiddos with us. She had everything in the world going for her.

    But then she got sick. Really, really sick. Really, really fast.

    That Fall, we were all on vacation having the time of our lives…a month later, she began to have allergy-like symptoms, and then within a few weeks of feeling ill, she suddenly and unexpectedly died of Wegener’s Granulomatosis (GPA) – a very rare autoimmune disease that was only named in 1939.

    Thanksgiving has never been the same since…and believe me, I have really tried.

    I’ve tried vacationing during Thanksgiving to get my mind off of it – to no avail. Then I tried going on a Disney vacation…the happiest place on earth…and during that trip, I had to go to the Urgent Center since I was so sick. In fact, the first several years after my sister’s death, I’d wake up every year around 4am and become violently ill. There has never been a Thanksgiving since that I haven’t gotten sick or felt major anxiety.

    The last Thanksgiving morning she was alive, she had her nurse call us around 4am and ask us to immediately come to the hospital to be with her. We threw our clothes on and got there…only to be blocked from seeing her by her medical team.

    Then the Code Blue came…and they revived her. And then the final Code Blue came…and she was gone.

    I guess my body remembers the 4am time – and that whole morning – because every year since, I have become extremely ill or anxious each Thanksgiving from 4am-10am.

    Frustrated by Thanksgiving, I finally found a way to cope. For years, I have put all of my Christmas decorations up by November 1, so I could just go straight into the Christmas season.

    I still celebrate Thanksgiving with my family…and I am extremely thankful for God, my family and friends, and all of life’s blessings…but this has helped me to not focus on the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

    Although I am super thankful for life, loved ones, and every blessing God lovingly grants me – and although I put on a happy face for the sake of my remaining loved ones…mostly my sweet mom and the kiddos in my life – I just don’t like Thanksgiving.

    In October, and up until this week, I was actually looking forward to Thanksgiving…it’s the very first year that I have actually looked forward to it.

    I haven’t put up one Christmas tree, ornament, or decoration yet.

    I was still feeling anxiety about Thanksgiving, but I was super grateful for the progress of my grief. And it felt good to not experience the yo-yo of grief the last six weeks – especially from all the years I tried so desperately to run away from the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

    I’ve spent many years going back and forth trying to make my heart feel something it just didn’t feel.

    I think most grievers understand what I’m talking about…especially if they’ve experienced a holiday death. But it’s not just the death of a loved one…it could also be loss of any kind.

    But then this week, all of the feelings of dread are starting to creep back.

    So the yo-yo is apparently still strong.

    I always try to be very transparent in my grief so I can help and encourage others.

    I hope this blog post doesn’t come across as whining. I truly hope it helps someone to know they’re not alone in their grief.

    Here’s my advice for getting through the Yo-Yo of grief:

    1. Seek God’s heart. It is truly amazing the amount of comfort and love God will shower onto those who love Him! Making God my closest and most treasured Friend has made all the difference in the world! Even during times when I don’t think a grief situation is fair, He patiently and lovingly always directs me in the right way. I can’t stress this enough…when you feel like you don’t want to trust His plan, always trust His great heart! Fight for your relationship with God…never give up on the true Treasure of His Friendship!
    2. Be true to your grief. Don’t force yourself to feel anything that isn’t authentic. If you feel sad, honor that sadness. If you feel fine, don’t feel guilty for having a good holiday…it doesn’t mean you love someone less. Good days & good holidays are truly a gift…embrace them when they come!
    3. Share with your family and friends where you are at in your grief…and don’t be ashamed of your grief. Don’t assume they should know or that they should instantly understand…take the time to share your heart.
    4. Don’t make family or close friends be mind readers. Tell them what you need so you will have the ability and support you need to get through the day.
    5. Do only what you feel you can truly do. It’s totally okay to have a relaxed holiday. If you’ve lost someone very close to you, it can take awhile to find a “new normal” for life and holidays…and sometimes the “new normal” you found can suddenly change and need readjusting. It’s okay not to always be okay…and that is totally FINE!! Be gentle with your heart!
    6. Light a memory candle in honor of your loved one…or do something special to “include” their memory. I have found that lighting a memory candle is a very special way of including my loved ones – it’s a beautiful way of saying, “I love you…I miss you…I will never forget you…I sure wish you were here!”
    7. NEVER apologize for your grief. If other people are uncomfortable with you honoring your grief or loved one, well tough. Lovingly remind them that you didn’t sign up for your grief experience…you’re doing what you need to do to get through it. So they’re frustrated? Kindly remind them that you’re frustrated too. Losing a loved one is the highest price you pay for loving someone…just because a loved one dies, your love doesn’t die too. People sometimes forget that.❤️
    8. Be careful to not create future guilt or regrets. I love the quote, “Even though I am grieving, the clock is still ticking, and that’s why I keep living purposefully.” I take the time to truly honor my grief, but I also make a very purposeful choice to celebrate and extravagantly love my remaining loved ones. Just like my sister suddenly died, I realize that is a possibility for everyone else I know too…so I make sure not to isolate myself and I choose to make the most of Thanksgiving and other holidays. I’m very authentic about my grief, I honor my grief…but I also honor my loved ones who are here as well.

    This Thanksgiving, I am praying for all of the Grief Bites Family! May you highly treasure God, enjoy your remaining loved ones, and honor & remember your treasured loved ones who are no longer on earth.

    Wishing all of you a very peaceful, special, joy-filled, and loving Thanksgiving Day!!

    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):Click here for book

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️

    7 TIPS FOR HELPING A GRIEVING LOVED ONE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

    Do you know someone who is hurting due to the death of a loved one, an illness, divorce, family conflict, or an unexpected life challenge or crisis?

    The holidays are very hectic for most people, but they become extra challenging for those going through grief.

    When family and friends offer kindness and encouragement, it can make all the difference in the world to those who are hurting.

    Whether the person who is grieving is a family member, friend, fellow church member, coworker, acquaintance, or neighbor, you have the amazing opportunity to offer compassion, support, and HOPE this holiday season.

    Choose to be a BLESSING!

    Think about each of these tips, and while you’re reading them, think of who you can bless – starting this week!

    Here are 7 practical tips for helping a grieving loved one during the holidays~

    1. Offer encouragement to the person who is going through grief by sending them an I’m-thinking-of-you card or a phone call. Whether they lost a loved one a week ago, or many years ago, their loved one will always be loved, treasured, and missed. The holidays can be a painful reminder of the fact their loved one is no longer here. If possible, refrain from sending over-the-top cheerful holiday greetings and cards if their loss is recent. Instead, send a more peace-filled greeting card with a special heartfelt note.

    2. Stay away from cliches such as, “They’re in a better place,” “God needed an angel,” or “God must have needed them more.” Although these statements are intended to make the grieving one feel better, it can often leave them hurting and frustrated. Try encouraging your loved one with loving words of remembrance such as, “I really miss _____, she/he was a such a wonderful person” or “I remember when we ________.” Reflection on the deceased loved one brings validation to family members left behind that their loved one was important, is missed, and they are still cared about. Most who have gone through grief still enjoy talking about their loved one. Bringing their loved one up is welcomed by most. You’re not going to hurt them by bringing up their loved one…their loved one is already on their heart. Also, at all costs, never say (or even hint or suggest) to someone who is going through grief to “get over it.” That’s worse than all cliches combined.

    3. Take the bereaved person a Christmas wreath, cookies, or a Christmas flower arrangement, and while there, maybe offer to do errands or chores for them. A small kindness and helpful gesture goes a very long way in encouraging someone who is going through grief.

    4. Invite them to attend your Christmas church service, family holiday dinner, or join in your Christmas festivities. Peace, comfort, encouragement, and loving relationships are important to offer to the bereaved during the holidays. A griever may want to attend church, but may not have anyone to attend with. Sometimes, traditional family dinners can be challenging too. If you are a close enough family member or friend, they may welcome an opportunity for a new place and environment to go to for church, dinner, or holiday celebrations.

    5. Invite your grieving loved one to a holiday movie, out for coffee, to a special Christmas church event, to see The Nutcracker, to dinner, or to go shopping with you. When someone is going through grief, they lose contact with the outside world as they are immersed in their pain. Many times, people do not know what to say to someone who is going through grief – so, unfortunately, they avoid seeing them altogether. Please let the grievers in your life know you care. An invitation can speak volumes of your love and concern for them.

    6. Be patient with those in grief. Life as they once knew it has drastically changed. It takes time to find a new “normal” and to thoroughly understand the full impact their grief and loss will have. Allow them the time they individually need to grieve. Everybody grieves differently and that’s perfectly fine. Please do not become frustrated with someone who is in grief…trust me, they’re frustrated, too! Support, love, and encourage them.

    7. Simply listen and be there. Sometimes, the best thing someone can do for a griever is to give them a hug with the gift of silence and a listening ear. Simply let them know someone truly cares. No words necessary…just be truly, genuinely caring and a good listener. And if they confide in you, please do not betray that precious trust. We all desperately want to say the magic words that will comfort loved ones in grief, but there simply are no words that can magically remove their heartache and pain. A trustworthy listening ear is more important than most realize.

    Please consider whose life (and heart) you can make a difference in this week! Think of someone you know who is going through grief or a hard time and offer them hope and encouragement.

    Have a very blessed and meaningful holiday season!

    Gratitude & many blessings,
    Kim 🎄❤️🎄

    ©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

    6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

    7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

    ⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

    ⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance and advice.

    🎄❤️🎄

    The Uniqueness of You & Your Goals 

    Everybody has had at least one goal.

    It may have been big or small…you may have created your goal when you were younger or older.

    The best thing about goals is how each goal is unique — and how each goal was created through unique circumstances. Even if two people have a similar dream, both goals are unique and will be accomplished differently. Each individual crafted their dreams and goals – and each goal or dream will contribute and positively effect each person’s family, friends, and sphere of influence.

    Since goals and dreams originate from each person’s individual life purpose, life experiences, influence, and perspective, it truly is uniquely wonderful and sweet when a person finally reaches their goal. It can greatly inspire everyone around them.

    I know of someone who was disappointed in life, so they made a goal to lose 100 lbs and to further their education. By the end of this year, they’ll have met their entire goal after years of hard work.

    Another person I know had a goal in their 20’s of owning a dance studio. Marriage and parenting took over – and even though they sure have enjoyed the last 20 years – they are now finally pursuing their forgotten dream.

    While growing up, I had some very strong goals and dreams. I had long forgotten about them…until I had a major health crisis last year.

    Some of the goals, I am incredibly happy I chose not to pursue them. They wouldn’t have been a good fit now. Other goals, I figured out that it’s not too late to accomplish them.

    Whether you’re a teenager, young adult, middle-aged, or elderly, we all have had dreams and goals. Some have met their dreams and goals head-on…others have neatly tucked them away in a closet of their heart.

    But did you know it’s never too late to pursue your goals and dreams? No matter what age you are, your goals and dreams – from the past or present – can be crafted, created, drafted, pursued, adjusted, improved, or completely changed so you can accomplish them…even if you already failed while trying to accomplish them.

    One of my friends had a dream and goal of getting married and having a large family. Growing up in a very small, and very chaotic dysfunctional family, she would dream of how awesome it would be to have a warm, happy home and family filled with love. Looking forward to the big holidays she would eventually have and enjoy…especially the whole family celebrating together…brought a smile to her heart. It was all she ever wanted.

    She eventually got married, and two months after the wedding, she had to have an emergency hysterectomy. With her hopes and dreams of a large family destroyed, her husband left her. Her dreams seemed to be forever crushed.

    She could have chosen to be deeply bitter…instead she chose to reconstruct her dream and is now helping children just like her. She is now a foster parent and has hosted dozens of children, who – like her – have lived in chaotic dysfunctional homes. She said she loves holidays and celebrations because she knows she is making a greater impact and difference.

    When we refuse to allow life to get the best of us during trials and challenges, new goals and dreams can be created and accomplished — some goals and dreams…when placed in God’s hands…will actually serve a bigger purpose, too.

    Earlier last year, I went through a major health scare. The radiologist suspected I had a very rare cancer…a cancer that only 5-15% survive. The odds didn’t look favorable.

    After thoroughly reading my medical reports, my very first thoughts were of how an illness would affect my family and my grief ministry. My next thoughts were about everything I wanted to experience and do in life…especially in my marriage, parenting, and family goals, spiritual/ministry goals, life-purpose goals, writing goals, health goals, travel opportunities, etc.

    After thinking about everything for a long while, I asked myself what lifelong goals I held in my heart that I never accomplished.

    When I thought about my loved ones, my life, and my goals…both childhood and current…life was greatly clarified for me. Crazy how when you’re faced with a major obstacle, loss, or illness, that’s when life, relationships, and choices become black and white…crystal clear.

    I also could clearly see how short life truly is…and how much of life is wasted.

    I couldn’t clearly tell what all was a waste or a foolish misuse of time…until I thought my time was about to run out.

    For me, God, family, friends, and my grief ministry was all that mattered ultimately. I also thought about future memories I might not get to be a part of and all of the experiences on earth I’d miss.

    Seriously think about the following and ask yourself which of these need pruning, improved, or prioritized in your life:

    • time
    • activities
    • relationships
    • money
    • opportunities
    • social media
    • computer/phone time

    I thought I was living a good, productive life, but when I was faced with potentially having 18 months to five years left on earth, it fiercely sifted my entire life — and everything in it. Being faced with a major illness showed me extreme truths about my life.

    I’m thankful the radiologist was wrong, but I will forever be grateful for the wake up call I was provided. While going through infusions, I used the time to truly think about life, as well as my relationships, goals, dreams, purpose, everything. It was an extremely eye opening, clarifying, and sometimes tough experience.

    Are you satisfied with life? Are there goals or dreams you regret not fulfilling? Are you wanting to make the world a better place for your loved ones and future generations?

    Think about your life.

    Think about your relationships.

    Think about your life purpose.

    Think about your goals.

    Think about your time.

    Think about your dreams.

    Deeply consider your legacy.

    At the end of your life, what will you want to look back on — and know you gave it your all? What is most important to you? Who is most important to you? What memories do you want your loved ones to have? How can you bless or inspire others?

    You have to ask these questions so you’ll better know how to live your life so you won’t waste it.

    For me, the answers were easy.

    When you’re faced with health issues or the end of your life, most will not care about how much money they have (or don’t have) in the bank, what kind of house they lived in or what kind of car they drove. You don’t care about past hurts. You don’t care about bills…schedules…calendars…or anything mundane or replaceable.

    You care about meeting God with a clear conscience, and you care about your loved ones, your legacy, and the difference you made. You care about the goals and dreams you accomplished that inspired others.

    Whether you are 13, 23, 33, 43, 53, 63, 73, 83, or 93, please consider all of your goals…your spiritual goals, your serious goals, your goals of helping others or making a difference, your relationship goals, and even your fun goals.

    You were created by God to fulfill a very specific purpose. Your influence, and all you bring to the table, is not replaceable. Whether you are healthy or sick, young or old, no matter the circumstances, if you have a heartbeat, then you have the powerful ability to create, pursue, reconstruct, or fulfill your goals and dreams.

    Your goals and dreams may be scary big or seemingly small…all can make a huge impact and difference. Especially to your loved ones.

    It’s never too late.

    Whatever goals or dreams you have, you truly can accomplish them with God’s help. I hope you choose to make a difference in others lives through your goals and dreams…and when you meet your goals, I hope you will celebrate with your loved ones.

    Here’s to the uniqueness of YOU & your individual goals and dreams. May God richly bless you and your goals!

    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): Click here for book

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    The Challenge of Unspoken or Hidden Grief

    Some of the most difficult grief experiences to heal from are those that are unspoken.

    The reason unspoken grief experiences are so difficult to heal from, is because of the nature of the grief – and the choice to isolate oneself.

    As I was helping an anonymous young lady on an online grief forum last week, my heart sure did go out to her. She – unknown to her parents, family, church family, and friends – had gotten pregnant and miscarried her first child 8 weeks into the pregnancy. Fearing judgment, she didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone except for the father of her child. For three years, she’s walked the road of grief all on her own.

    Isolated. Heartbroken. Alone.

    With unspoken grief, some grief events have happened recently, while some happened decades ago.

    Some may have believed that time would heal their wounds, only to find that time hasn’t healed anything.

    There are many grief experiences that are “unspoken” or “unknown”…experiences someone may not feel comfortable sharing with others:

    • Unplanned pregnancies that end in miscarriage, secret adoptions, or abortion
    • A sexual assault
    • Medical diagnosis such as HIV
    • Mental health diagnosis
    • Adultery
    • Family or marital issues
    • Abuse
    • Conflict with adult children or other family members
    • Addictions
    • Mistreatment of others or conflict that you never had the chance to make right
    • Church conflict/church abuse
    • Suicide issues that remaining loved ones have to go through
    • Suicide attempt survivors

    There are many life challenges people go through. With unspoken grief, they’re just not at a place they feel comfortable sharing with others the tremendous heartache they’ve been through.

    Unspoken grief presents a big challenge for the person going through it: if they keep their grief concealed, they may never find the help or healing their heart needs.

    So how do you heal from unspoken grief experiences?

    Please realize God never intended for us to walk through grief alone. Community, as well as the many resources available, are very powerful gifts when going through heartache, challenges, and grief.

    There are many confidential options for finding help and healing when going through an unspoken grief experience:

    • Seek out confidential help with a trusted pastor, grief counselor, or therapist
    • Find encouragement through a local grief group (GriefShare, The Compassionate Friends, local funeral homes who offer grief seminars, Grief Bites conferences, etc.). Many grievers do not realize their grief situations can remain completely anonymous at these meetings, conferences, and seminars. Outside of introducing yourself, you don’t even have to talk if you don’t wish.
    • Utilize online grief resources (blogs, YouVersion’s grief related reading plans, grief related Facebook pages, GriefShare daily emails, The Compassionate Friends private groups, Grief Bites blog, etc.)
    • Talk to a trusted family member or friend…keyword: trusted. When choosing who to confide in, always realize that two listening ears are also attached to a talking mouth – meaning, they can share what you confide in them, so be very selective in who you choose to trust!
    • Go to your local bookstore or favorite online bookseller and purchase books on grief. 
    • The best place to go with your broken heart is to God. He is always there 24/7, He cares deeply for you, and He has the power to heal your heart and spirit.

    If you are going through an unspoken grief experience, please know there is hope. You can find relief and healing. Seek out the help you need today so your heart has the opportunity to truly heal.

    May God bless and encourage your heart!

    Gratitude & blessings,
    Kim

    ©2017 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

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

    ❤️Kim’s blog: www.griefbites.com

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

    6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

    7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus:

    ⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print. 

    ⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance and advice.