Tag Archive | holidays

The Life Lesson You Won’t Want To Wait To Learn

There I was…sitting in a college classroom.

My books neatly stacked, pen and paper out to take notes, as I waited for my professor to start her lecture on the material that would be on the final exam in a few days.

It took everything in me to be present in class that day. My sister had just died six days earlier, and her funeral was the day before this particular class. And just a few weeks before my sister’s death, my other sister’s fiancé (who was also one of my best friends) had died. It was a small miracle I made it out of bed, but I didn’t want the whole semester to be wasted.

As I prepared to listen to my professor’s review, a girl sat right next to me.

This young lady began complaining to me (and the guy sitting next to us) for the next 10 minutes about her job, getting up early to make it to class, her boyfriend buying her the wrong color of roses over the weekend, and she complained about the manicure she had just gotten.

Then she complained about something that pierced my heart: she complained about having to go on vacation over Christmas break with her parents and sister.

Out of all of the mornings I had decided to arrive early to class, this was a day I wished I had slept in.

A mere month before, the young lady’s complaining would have gone in one ear and out the other. I would’ve thought, “wow…this girl is having a bad week.”

This particular morning though, I wanted to tell her – more like scream at her – how lucky she was to have both parents alive…lucky to have her sister to go on vacation with…blessed to have a boyfriend who bought her roses…and her fingernails…really?!…fingernails are something to complain about just because one chipped!? I thought, “wow…this girl needs some serious perspective!”

Sitting in that classroom, I wished my greatest problem was something as vain as a fingernail that could be fixed within half an hour. I wished my sister had her fiancé still here to buy her roses…she would’ve been grateful for any color. I wished I could go on a vacation…any vacation…with my sister and dad again. Instead, I was wondering how our family was going to make it through the grief and storm we were just catapulted into.

The fact is, grief deeply changes you. You see things so very differently!

It truly is like life is a glass “window” that has always been covered in thick glittery paint. Grief comes along and power washes all of the paint and glitter away.

…But having all of the thick glitter washed away doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

Once you experience deep grief, and all of the glitter is washed away, you see people, things, and life – everything – much more clearly.

I’m not trying to be hard on the girl. I bet everything she was complaining about made perfect sense to her. It would’ve made perfect sense to me a few weeks earlier.

To be fair, I wonder how many times I have complained about trivial things to someone who was going through grief or a major life challenge?

And the bigger question:

How many blessings have I missed in life – especially pre-grief – due to not having a proper perspective or the ability to see a bigger picture?

The fact is, every “problem” we may have is an absolute lost “blessing” someone else deeply misses:

•The man or woman who is struggling to get along with their spouse? Someone else only wishes they could bring their spouse back from Heaven or back from divorce. Some are single and have never found love or marriage yet at all.

The job we may absolutely hate? Someone else has recently been laid off or disabled and would love to have their job back.

The child who is rebelling or making poor choices? Someone else would give everything they own just to have one more minute with their deceased child. Others have never been granted the privilege and gift of being a parent.

The person who complains about the wrong haircut, a bad manicure, or “having to go to the gym”? Someone else is in a hospital fighting cancer or battling another illness. They only wish they still had their hair or the energy to go run or workout again.

The person who complains about “having to go see their family,”…how long they have to stay at family gatherings and holidays…or who complains about their parents, siblings, children, extended family or in-laws? Someone else would give everything they own to have the luxury of having any family members at all. Family is a true gift – an EXTRAVAGANT gift – even if they (or we) don’t always act like one!

There are many more scenarios I could list of all the ways, and all of the people and things, we each take for granted or complain about. The opportunities and scenarios are unending.

Note: I’m not downplaying life challenges, difficult family members or challenging people, because life challenges and difficult people are always there and can be very painful. I, myself, have been guilty of complaining about people, things, and life events. I think we all have.

Once we truly put life in proper perspective though, and gain gratefulness in each area, the problems won’t seem near as big, annoying, inconvenient, or insurmountable.

We’ll find that some things in life are not quite the tragedy or crisis we make them out to be.

No matter what, at the end of the day, life is a tremendous gift! We may have to change our perspective, but life truly is.

Take some time today to truly see your blessings. Choose to continually create a grateful heart and genuinely appreciate each family member, person, gift, experience, opportunity, and modern day convenience we each are SO VERY blessed to have in our lives.

I have found that it seriously is a choice.

Rinse off the thick paint of the “window of life,” developing proper perspective, so you are clearly able to see, appreciate, and enjoy life…and the loved ones you have…to your best ability!

Don’t wait for life – or grief – to teach you a most painful lesson: The ability to see your pre-grief life with crystal clear perspective…to clearly see all of the treasure you once had in your life and held in your hand!

Learn this most important life lesson today…right now. Like great treasure in your hand, never allow perspective, blessings, or time to fall through your fingers. Life is precious. Family and good friends are a treasure. Time is a gift.

You may have already experienced a major loss or great grief. Perhaps you are currently going through a tragedy or crisis and life may not feel like a gift today.

Take the time to be kind to your heart. Even if it’s just baby steps, you truly can make it through.💗

🌺Encouraging quotes:

To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.” ~Stephen R. Covey

“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.” ~Charles Richards

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” ~Oprah Winfrey

“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.” ~Oscar Wilde

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone.” ~Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.” ~Stephen Vincent Benét

“I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dropped it carelessly, Ah! I didn’t know, I held opportunity.” ~Hazel Lee

“If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance.” ~Andrea Boydston

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

5. Experiencing The Holidays With Jesus: Christmas (available November 2018) http://bible.com/r/3V5

⭐️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 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.

🎄❤️🎄

Grief & Holidays—helpful tip #7

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

Today’s tip for the holidays is:

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

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

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

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

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

May everybody have a blessed Christmas week!

Gratitude & blessings,
🎄Kim

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🎄❤️🎄

The 10 Thieves of Christmas 

Christmas is a magical time.

Most people are in a better mood and the sights, sounds, and smells of the season are delightful. I think December is the best month of the entire year…

…but what if you’re deep in grief?

…what if you’re experiencing disappointment?

…what if life currently isn’t being too kind?

You dream of all life has to offer…you plan and prepare for the best life possible…then something happens and wrecks your plan, attempting to rob you of your joy.

Life is truly a series of blessings and losses…and this circle goes on and on through multiple different circumstances all throughout life.

What if all seems lost?

I get it. I’ve experienced those heart wrenching times in my life as well.

…yet miracles can still become a reality and life lessons can be learned through the toughest grief experiences we each face.

Are you battling a thief of Christmas today? Is something…a situation…a life event…or someone…sucking the joy and peace out of you this Christmas season? 

Everybody at some point will go through a season during the holidays where life is a heartbreaking challenge. Below is a list of the most common thieves of Christmas. As you read this list, consider what “thieves” are attempting to steal your joy and peace.

1. Grief – 
Losing a loved one can make the holidays absolutely unbearable. You miss your loved one so much that your heart genuinely aches…it feels as though your heart is literally breaking. Sometimes, it can feel difficult to simply breathe. If you are going through grief, be kind to your heart. If you are freshly in grief, there is no wrong or right way of celebrating the holidays. Do only whatever makes you comfortable. You may choose to do your usual festivities…you may choose to have a much more relaxed holiday…or you may choose to simply stay home – or maybe even go out of town. The people who love you will understand and support however you need to spend the holidays. Surround yourself with love.

2. Disappointment
There are many disappointments life can throw at you — and the holidays seem to magnify them. If you’re frustrated by an area of your life, the holidays tend to bring up intense feelings. If you’re single and wish to be married or you desperately desire to be a parent, you most likely will see more happy couples or children than usual. If you wanted a promotion at work, this can be magnified as well. If you’re married and your spouse or children don’t seem to care about celebrating the traditions that are dear to your heart…or your kiddos can’t come home for Christmas…that’s tough, too. Disappointments come in many forms. It’s up to each person to figure out how to navigate through the deep disappointments in life. I have found the best way to deal with disappointments in life, is to mourn the loss of whatever a disappointment may bring, then give all of my expectations to God. It also helps to write down a checklist of all of the good that remains in life. Sometimes when you see what you do have in life, it can bring a new perspective.

3. Relationship Conflicts –
The holidays for most people – sadly – wouldn’t be the holidays if there wasn’t some sort of relational conflict. Parents get upset by how their married children divvy up the time they have to spend on Christmas Day…an adult child or their spouse may not treasure or treat parents right and vice versa…spouses are stressed due to a multitude of reasons – especially undealt with past conflict…kids are shuffled between homes and become tired or frustrated…family members fail to value one another…certain family members bring up problems during Christmas dinner or make catty, rude, or passive-aggressive remarks. A variety of relationship conflicts happen to most everyone at some point during the holidays. My advice? Make the most of EVERY Christmas event with loved ones. You never know who may pass away in the new year and you don’t want your previous holiday to hold painful memories or regrets. Choose to give grace to others when you can. Enjoy and love your family extravagantly. If you’re upset a family member isn’t doing what you’re expecting them to do, or if someone is upset with you, seek to find win/win situations where both people can be happy. If you know you’re being difficult, give the gift of harmony and flexibility to others. If someone is over 21 years-old and finances their own life, realize their life is theirs to live…they need to learn and experience blessings and consequences on their own (the only exception is if they’re making life & death choices that could be detrimental). Be super good to your spouse, kids, parents, grandparents, siblings, and all other family members. Family is a most treasured gift – even if each person doesn’t always act like one. I talk to so many grievers who would absolutely give up everything in the world to have their loved one back with them on Christmas Day. Choose to call a moratorium and be the bigger person. It’s one day of the entire year – do your part to make it a great one! If someone is seriously rude or degrading to you or your family, sometimes the most polite thing you can do is create strong boundaries…especially if you have young children who you are trying to provide great Christmas memories for. If someone has majorly crossed over boundary lines, you may want to get the advice of a therapist or trusted pastor to see how to best handle the conflict. If it can be resolved or talked out, family harmony is very important. Sometimes, that sadly isn’t possible. There’s a big difference between an annoying or opinionated relative and an extremely toxic one who can truly create longterm damage. Pray and ask God for wisdom of how to handle situations, give grace when you can, and seek out healthy interactions and create great memories with family this year! 

4. Addictions
Addictions are a killer around the holidays. If you are someone who struggles with sobriety or you’ve chosen to make healthier life choices, temptations are EVERYWHERE. If you’re battling an addiction, be so very careful to maintain your sobriety, boundaries, and health. Perhaps your family still has alcohol around because they “have always done things this way,” you’ll need to ensure your healthful choices by pre-planning how you’ll address potential situations and temptations. Preparation and having a solid plan at all times goes a long way! Addictions demand that you give up so much for so little…it literally is like borrowing $5 but having to pay back $50,000. Don’t give up months or years of discipline and hard work for one day or one week of the year. It just isn’t worth it! If a loved one won’t respect your choice of sobriety or boundaries, you may need to limit your contact with them…or meet at a neutral place where no source of an addiction will be available. Do whatever you need to do to maintain your sobriety and avoid all addictions. Seeking out a trusted loved one to hold you accountable is also a good idea. I’ve heard some absolutely heartbreaking stories from grievers who wish they would’ve maintained strong boundaries when it comes to addiction.

5. Loneliness – 
There are many reasons for loneliness. You may not have family or friends, or you may even be married with kiddos and have family and friends — yet feel extremely alone if your relationships are shallow or stressed. The holidays can be intensely lonely. Everybody dreams of having lots of family and friends around…receiving Christmas cards…being invited to holiday parties…having a special friend or romantic partner to do activities with…snuggling up with someone…doing fun Christmas activities with loved ones…desire to maintain holiday traditions with your adult kiddos…but sometimes life just doesn’t happen the way we wish. I remember one particular Christmas that was painful for me, it was actually the year before I met my husband. Due to some very tough situations, I felt alone. More alone than I had ever felt. I had just been through a major loss and I could have thrown the biggest pity party on planet earth – and everyone who knew me at the time would’ve completely understood and supported the pity party – I, instead, chose to do whatever I could to create a memorable Christmas. I invited my parents to go buy a live Christmas tree with me…I asked my sisters to bake treats with me…I watched every Christmas TV special I could…and I surrounded myself with loved ones. The very best thing I chose to do was choosing to spend many nights in front of the Christmas tree with all of the lights out in the room except for the beautiful lights on the Christmas tree, pouring my broken heart out to God. It sounds really crazy, but I will always treasure that particular Christmas. I found God’s heart through that tough and lonely season in my life. If you are feeling all alone this Christmas, please know that God loves you so very much! When people hurt or fail you…when your spouse or kiddos disappoint or hurt your heart…when friends fail you…God is always there. He’s beyond faithful and will comfort your lonely heart in a way no human possibly can. Invite God to spend your holiday with you. Jesus is the real treasure! You’ll be delightfully surprised how faithful – and what an amazing friend – He truly is!

6. Financial Difficulties –
I wish everybody had a money tree in their backyard, especially during the holidays. Unfortunately, not everyone is consistently blessed in the area of finances. Finances can bring upon tons of stress and be limiting. If people allow it to, finances can create conflict in marriages and families, wreck havoc on health, and cause tension. The only good thing about financial challenges is the creativity you can develop through hard times, the drive to create a better life, and realizing what truly matters in life is definitely not “things.” Don’t feel pressured into buying things you can’t afford or taking up slack you genuinely aren’t able to. Do your very best and ask God to meet your needs. It also helps to appreciate the simplicity of Christmas and the peacefulness of the season with your loved ones. I remember a specific Christmas season (about 25 years ago) when my husband and I were broke as smoke. We literally were so broke that we could only afford two Happy Meals from McDonald’s as a Christmas treat…one for our child and we split the other one between my hubby and me. Our Christmas tree only had 24 apple ornaments – because they were 12 for $1. Our gifts to each other came from the Dollar Store. We bought five $1 board games. Even though we were broke, I remember that year as a very treasured memory…we learned the only thing that truly matters is God and loved ones. Everything else is just a bonus.

7. Medical Diagnosis –
A poor medical diagnosis or serious health issues can be alarming. If you or a loved one received bad medical news this year, you most likely feel deep concern. Concern for how your loved ones are going to handle the diagnosis, concern for the future, concern for you or your loved one’s wellbeing. You also are probably going through a roller coaster of emotions…fear, worry, heartache, panic, frustration. You may even feel angry or cheated. Illness is difficult and can leave you feeling helpless and even depressed. I truly get it…one year, I had multiple family members battling cancer at the exact same time. Take the time to talk to God about all you or your loved ones are going through and feeling. He wants to encourage and comfort you. With your loved ones, share how you each are feeling and also share what each of your needs are. Whether you (or a loved one) have a lifelong debilitating illness or the illness is at hospice level, I pray God comforts your heart and gives you and your loved ones a Christmas that is special and memorable.

8. Spiritual Warfare –
I’ve never seen a time in my life where there was so much spiritual warfare in families and marriages. Not a week goes by I don’t receive a phone call to meet with those who are experiencing the pain of a spouse who has committed adultery, the heartache of an adult child who has abandoned their faith, or a sad situation of family estrangement, family conflict, or marital heartache. It’s just so very, very sad. And this time of year is the worst time to experience such heartache because it is so much more deeply felt. It is very painful to experience a family member not living close to God or their family. When you are at your wit’s end, remember that God is never not working in a situation. He truly is working on your behalf and your loved ones behalf. He never quits, and He can bring beauty out of ashes. Commit your loved ones and your tough situations to the Lord and ask Him to work everything out in His way and in His time. He loves you and your loved ones – and can do – more than you can ask, think, or imagine. Trust His heart! He, better than anyone, knows exactly how you feel. God’s heart is for you and your loved one!

9. Guilt & Regrets –

Past guilt and regrets can do a real number on people. “Could’ve,” “Should’ve,” “Would’ve,” and “If Only,” wreck havoc on many people during the holiday season. “If only I had tried harder in my marriage”…”I should’ve spent more time with my kids while they were growing up”…”If only I could’ve gone back in time to prevent_____”…”If only I would’ve done_____or not done_____”…the list of guilt and regrets can go on and on. It is so incredibly important to realize that had you known better, you would’ve chosen or done better. By all means, if your conscience is hurting you and you have it in your power to do something about your guilt and regrets, then definitely do so. Make amends wherever and whenever possible. But if you can’t do anything about whatever past situation you are hurting or feeling guilt or regrets from, then you may want to talk to God about the situation and ask Him to help you to heal your heart. Every situation we go through in life is an opportunity to learn to be better, do better, and change things for the better. The lesson is always love…how to love God and others better. Be kind to others and yourself, always seek to have a clean conscience, and give grace to yourself and others. You may not be able to do anything about the past, but with each new day, you have the opportunity – with God’s help – to create a brand new future. Always remember: your best days may not have even happened yet.

10. Stress
There are three types of people during the  holidays: those who are completely refreshed and relaxed…those who are completely stressed out…and those who are a combination of the two. Try not to stress too much during the holidays. Take on only what you feel comfortable doing. It’s not a sin to say no to a request if you genuinely don’t have the time or energy to do something. Take time to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of the season. Stop to reflect on all of the blessings you’ve received from God and others this year. Take a deep breath and realize that it’s truly okay to rest and relax!

There are so many thieves that can invade the Christmas season and obliterate joy…

…for sure…

…but there are also choices that can be made to create a special, meaningful Christmas season.

With just a few weeks until Christmas, make the decision to:

  • Be kind to your heart…
  • Extravagantly love and enjoy God and loved ones
  • Celebrate these remaining weeks and days of the holiday in the most stress-free, enjoyable, and relaxed way possible…
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa as you reflect on good memories of Christmases past…
  • Do something meaningful for others: buy someone a surprise treat or gift…help a family in need…donate to a charity that is dear to your heart…go to dinner with a family member or friend…encourage someone who is going through grief…bake cookies for loved ones…etc…
  • Attend a special Christmas church service, program, or concert…
  • Watch Christmas specials or movies that will warm your heart…
  • Look at Christmas lights and decorations – every year, I do this with loved ones…and I also look at Christmas lights with just God. I cherish both of these times every year.
  • Most importantly, seek God’s heart and friendship and spend the holidays delighting in Him. https://griefbites.com/2016/12/30/making-2017-your-best-year-yet-43-ways-to-delight-in-god/ He is truly the best part of the season! Whether you are feeling sadness, or you are feeling cheer, thank Him for the absolute miracle of Christmas.

When it all comes down to it, the holiday is about Jesus…the true Reason for the season. Never allow anyone or anything to steal your joy in Him!

I truly wish each of you a very blessed Christmas season! May God richly bless each of you in the days to come and throughout the New Year!

Gratitude and many blessings,
❤️Kim

©2016 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

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

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

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

🎄FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. 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.

🎄❤️🎄

7 TIPS FOR HELPING A GRIEVING LOVED ONE DURING THE HOLIDAYS 

Do you know of someone who is hurting due to the death of a loved one, an illness, divorce, 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, acquaintance, or neighbor, you have the AMAZING opportunity to offer compassion, support, and HOPE this Christmas season.

Choose to be the BLESSING and compassion today that you will hope to receive tomorrow.

Think about each of these tips, and while you’re reading them, think of who you can bless 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 treasured and missed. The holidays can be a painful reminder of the fact that their loved one is no longer here. If possible, refrain from sending over-the-top cheerful holiday greetings and cards. 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 bereaved one feel better, it will 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 that they are still cared about. Most who have gone through grief still enjoy talking about their loved one. Bringing them up is welcomed by most. You’re not going to hurt them bringing up their loved one…their loved one is already on their heart. Also, at all costs, never say (or even 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 for them. A small kindness and helpful gesture goes a very long way in cheering someone up who is going through grief.

4. Invite them to attend your family holiday dinner or Christmas festivities. Sometimes, traditional family dinners can be challenging. If you are a close enough friend, they may welcome an opportunity for a new place and environment to go to for dinner or holiday celebrations.

5. Invite your grieving loved one to a holiday movie, out for coffee, to a Christmas church service, 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 a griever so they avoid seeing someone in grief. Please let them know you care. An invitation will speak volumes of your concern for them.

6. Be patient with those in grief. Life as they once knew it has been drastically altered. 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, and simply let them know someone truly cares. No words necessary…just truly, genuinely caring and being a good listener. 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 people realize.

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

Have a very blessed and meaningful Christmas 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:
⭐️
ng peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

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

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

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

⭐️FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Gri
s: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
2. Gri
s: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships
3. Gr
tes:
t Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
4. Gr
tes:
w Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

Mourning Those Who Are Still Alive: 10 Ways To Weather The Storm

Most grief recovery efforts naturally include helping grievers to mourn loved ones who have died…but what if the person you are mourning is still alive?

To have once enjoyed a great, solid, rich relationship with a loved one—and then no longer have a good relationship (or to then have a drastically changed relationship or no relationship at all)—this terribly and horribly breaks a heart in a very unique, painful way.

When drastic change occurs, or a difficult situation or relationship develops, it can cause excruciating heartache, loss, and sadness. It truly can feel as though someone you deeply love has died, and you are forced to go through a silent funeral inside of your heart every single day.

There are many reasons why this can happen:

  • Spouses commit adultery or file for divorce, or a significant other leaves or betrays you
  • Children react to parents due to divorce or co-parenting challenges…sometimes parents react back
  • A parent has an affair or gets remarried and then chooses to distance or remove themselves from the relationship with their child(ren)
  • Children react to an adulterous affair a parent had or children react to how the affair victim/parent handled an affair
  • A loved one battles debilitating mental illness, severe depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s, or a loved one goes through the longterm effects of a traumatic brain injury or serious injury— and these circumstances completely change the dynamics of the relationship
  • Parents react to children and children react to parents on “life” issues, moral decisions, or spiritual issues
  • A parent, step parent, or other family member spitefully pits a child, parent, step parent or family member against one another
  • Custody or visitation issues, foster care challenges, or family conflicts cause deep heartache…even estrangement
  • Spouses return home deeply wounded emotionally, physically, spiritually or mentally from serving in the military…or spouses betray the spouse who is away serving
  • A spouse, child, or family member goes through a serious medical challenge, experiences deep grief, or another terrible life event or life challenge and they drastically change or become a completely different person
  • Parents abandon their children, and/or children rebel against or abandon their parents
  • Siblings, or other family members, deeply change and are no longer close
  • A family member battles addiction—or another stronghold or wrong thinking—and you can’t get through to them
  • Relationship issues due to mistreating or reacting to one another…and one or both people aren’t willing to repair or improve things
  • An adult child can enter into a romantic relationship (or marriage) and their parent doesn’t approve or isn’t willing to respect their child’s partner, spouse, and/or marriage…or vice versa
  • Friendships heartbreakingly dissolve
  • Physical, mental, or emotional abuse issues create hardships, family division, and heartache
  • A family relationship, friendship, or church relationship dissolves due to a betrayal, a lack of understanding, conflict, or deep hurts
  • Family members or in-laws are mistreated due to another family members/in-laws dysfunction
  • Bitterness and an unwillingness to forgive or work on the relationship takes root
  • Some sever ties to “make a point” or to intentionally inflict heartache in reaction to their own pride or pain
  • A family member becomes a prodigal
  • A sibling, parent, child or other family member marries someone who isn’t respectful of sibling/parent/child/family relationships…so to avoid arguing with their romantic partner, they choose to “keep the peace,” and choose their significant other over longterm relationships…or a parent chooses their significant other over their children
  • Ultimately, a lack of respect, genuine love, honor, boundaries, and commitment – and ultimately a lack of good character – can wreck major havoc on relationships and families
  • Lots and lots of other reasons

Anytime a relationship changes for the worse, abruptly changes, or becomes fractured or shattered, it is very, very painful. And many times, the result is to feel helpless, as though you have run out of options.

When this happens, what can you do?

  1. Pray. Pour your heart out to God and ask for Him to intervene in the relationship and situation. Pray God touches your loved ones heart…pray God will show them a deep love for them, Him, (and you), and conviction for any sin that is in their life. Pray God pours His love, kindness, and provision into their life…anything that will help them to realize how much God and you love them.
  2. Possibly prepare for God to ask you to make a change or to do something uncomfortable.
  3. As much as depends on you, apologize and ask for forgiveness for your part…knowing that the other person may never humble their self by apologizing back to you.
  4. Place your loved one and the entire situation in God’s Hands….and take your hands off (and out of) the situation. Realize God can do more in one MOMENT than you could ever hope to do in an entire LIFETIME.
  5. KEEP YOUR NOSE CLEAN…meaning, do the right thing and choose to show genuine love no matter what. Take the higher ground. Be completely loving, Christ-like, and kind. Close your mouth (this can be very hard to do!) and do your God-given responsibilities. This will be extremely hard, but remember: God’s got this! He needs for you to reflect His character, love, and glory. It will be very helpful to memorize and recite these scriptures when you’re tempted to put your hands back in the situation or for the times you’re tempted to not keep your nose clean: Exodus 14:14, Ephesians 6:11-13, 1 Samuel 17:47, Psalm 34:18. This does NOT mean be a doormat, but for God to accomplish His greatest work, it’s very important to get out of God’s way and to fully obey God.
  6. Seek and find what helps to heal your heart. It might be going to therapy, talking to a pastor, or working through all of the emotions and grieving through your tough situation.
  7. Have faith and fully expect God to work in the situation. It may or may not be how you had in mind, but God will definitely be working in the situation (and working out the best outcome) as you genuinely trust in Him to do so.
  8. Ask God to provide you with a strong, loving support system: trusted family, trusted friends, trusted pastors/counselors, trusted support groups/biblical community…keyword here is TRUSTED. To get through the toughest times in life, a strong support system is vital. Accountability partners can also be very important. Work on yourself and do your own self-work with the Lord’s help. Consider your individual relationship with the Lord, your joy and life purpose apart from the situation, consider your part in the situation, look soberly at your own faults and possible blind spots – both in and out of the situation, and seek to improve yourself as you love and serve God to the fullest as you wait on Him. (Psalm 46:10, Matthew 6:9-15, Matthew 6:33-34, Proverbs 3:5-6)
  9. . There is a huge difference between peacemaking/compromise and allowing yourself to be manipulated/degraded. God never made anyone to be a doormat. For a relationship to be healthy, both people need to do the right thing. Relationships are like a swinging door… If it’s constantly opening for one person, but slamming shut in the other persons face, that’s never going to work long-term. Be careful allowing yourself to be degraded instead of creating healthy compromise. If genuine repentance and change do not occur, you’re always going to have conflict. It will just be a different situation and a different circumstance. Heart change is needed for lasting results... otherwise you’re just putting a Band-Aid on something that they’re gonna rip off and hurt you again.
  10. Delight in God (Psalm 37:4). When we go through hardships, it becomes easy to become impatient, worry, have anxiety, or become fearful or bitter. We can even be tempted to doubt God’s goodness or become greatly upset with Him. God has a better way! Delight yourself in God, learn to trust and lean on Him, and extravagantly love Him as He carries you through your grief and the storm you are in the middle of. He knows your heart, loves your heart (and knows and loves your loved one’s heart!), and no matter what happens in your situation, He will carry you, heal your broken heart, and love you back to life…no matter what! He will NEVER leave you!! In fact, other than our relationship with our own self, God is the ONLY relationship we are guaranteed to continually have here on earth. We can NEVER lose His love!
  • Allow God to positively change your heart through the process…and whether your situation or relationship changes for the better or not…eventually use your situation to wisely help and encourage others. You are going to be an absolute TREASURE to someone else who will be walking through a similar tough relationship situation. Learn as much as you can through your situation TODAY so you can encourage and help others in the present or FUTURE. God never wastes grief. There is always good that can grow out of it.
  • Whatever situation or relationship you are grieving or experiencing deep heartache in, please realize there is hope! I agree with you in prayer for God to heal, encourage, and help you and your loved one(s) through whatever you are going through. I pray God works mightily in each relationship, heart, mind, spirit, and situation! If a positive outcome is not possible due to a permanent, toxic, or debilitating situation, I pray God grants you the gifts of grace and His peace that passes understanding…and the ability to truly press forward and heal. God DOES love you, He greatly values you, and He already knows how He plans to help you – and every situation of grief you are facing or will ever face!

    Even if a relationship never finds peace or reconciliation again, realize it does NOT diminish your value. Before you were ever a family member, spouse, child, parent, or a friend, you were God’s. He will always unconditionally love you, because you are totally valuable and “enough” to Him. Yes, you will go through incredible heartache if reconciliation does not take place, but God will be there for you every single day—especially on your toughest days!

    There is always hope and your life is precious! Please never forget that!❤️

    Gratitude, healing, love, & many blessings,
    Kim

    ©2016 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.

    🎄❤️🎄

    Creating An Authentic & Personalized Valentine’s Day In Spite Of Heartache

    Valentine’s Day.

    Ah, the day for lovers. A day filled with flowers, chocolate, jewelry, romantic candlelight dinners, gifts, and love.

    But what if you’re one of the people who aren’t in the Happy Valentine’s Day Club this year?

    Maybe your treasured spouse has passed away and Valentine’s Day is excruciatingly painful and hard to go through.

    Perhaps your little Valentines (kiddos) who used to make you the sweetest homemade Valentine’s Day cards have grown up and are being anything but sweet.

    Maybe your spouse or significant other has committed adultery, betraying your trust, and you’re in the heart wrenching transition of cleaning up a horrible mess you didn’t choose, create, or deserve.

    Perhaps you recently went through an ugly divorce or tough breakup and it’s super hard to see other couples celebrating all day.

    Maybe you’ve longed to have a spouse or a special someone in your life, but things never worked out quite how you imagined and now you find yourself alone.

    Perhaps you’re married or in a relationship, but you know you will not be cherished or celebrated…February 14 is “just another day” – and no matter how much you’ve communicated your feelings, needs, and desires, Valentines Day will simply be another annual let down. https://griefbites.com/2018/02/14/a-special-prayer-for-your-marriage/

    Maybe you’ve been burnt by love in the past, so you take great care to never go anywhere near the flame of love ever again. You just don’t care to pursue or open yourself up to love again because you don’t wish to potentially get hurt.

    Perhaps you’re in the middle of a huge grief experience and love is the last thing on your mind. Your broken heart feels as though it can’t focus on anything but your present grief and pain.

    Maybe you have a loved one you are estranged from (spouse, child, or other loved one) so your heart feels as though it will never heal. Every day feels like a silent funeral in your heart. https://griefbites.com/2016/03/20/mourning-those-who-are-still-alive/

    There are many reasons – spoken and unspoken – why some are less than enthusiastic about February 14. Sometimes the pain is so deep, it can literally hurt to breathe. https://griefbites.com/2017/06/20/the-challenge-of-unspoken-or-hidden-grief/

    Life just doesn’t always go the way we had planned. https://griefbites.com/2018/03/21/when-god-doesnt-give-you-your-fairytale-2/

    This past week, I’ve seen so many blogs with helpful lists of Valentine’s advice. What to do…what not to do…what to avoid…where to go…where not to go…the advice is as numerous as the lists.

    As I kept pondering Valentine’s Day, I realized lists can be a huge source of help – but by following lists, it still keeps the focus exclusively on the romantic aspects of the holiday.

    And I think that’s a big problem.

    I think when you’re going through a tough life experience, your soul craves comfort and relief. It also craves authenticity, because when your heart and soul have been battered by the waves of life, it washes everything shallow away and you just want something real.

    I wish someone would have given me a different perspective and new ideas for holidays so I had options for enjoying them. Today, I hope to be a source of encouragement for all who are presently hurting.

    Sometimes, you just need to change things up or create something unique and different, so as to not feel lost or stay stagnant.

    How do you wish to spend Valentine’s Day? What can you do to create a memorable day in spite of grief and loss?

    Maybe you want to celebrate big. Maybe you’re so discouraged, you truly just hope to get through the day.

    This Valentine’s Day, create whatever kind of day you personally need, so you truly are able to enjoy or just get through the day.

    If that means declaring an “Un-Valentine’s Day” where you make the day just like any other day and avoid all things Valentine-ish, then do so.

    If it means pouring your heart and love into your loved ones (spouse, children, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, siblings, parents, grandparents, other family, or friends), then wholeheartedly enjoy it.

    If it means baking Valentine’s Day treats and passing them out to loved ones or those you know who are hurting, then lovingly do that.

    If it means warmly remembering and honoring a loved one who is no longer here, then allow those special memories to comfort your heart.

    If it means putting on your comfiest pajamas, lighting the fireplace, and getting a box of chocolates or a pint of ice cream (hey, no judgment here😊) and watching sappy movies while either loving or hating the holiday, then go for it.

    If you want to go out to dinner with all of your single friends, go out and enjoy yourself.

    Do whatever makes you feel comfy, cozy, and comforted.

    You might want to spend the day completely alone, or with a few people, or get a big group of people together who want to have a great Valentine’s Day, too…or even an anti-Valentine’s Day.

    People should create whatever type of day they need, so that on February 15, they can wake up with a heart that is filled with joy, contentment, special memories, and wholeness.

    Expectations of how one thinks the day should go…or expecting others to fill their heart up…is the quickest way to arrive at disappointment and heartache.

    Instead of spending February 14th with great expectations…and then waking up on the 15th with disappointments or sadness…what if you purposely chose to create the day you want, and cultivate peace and gratefulness for all evidence of love you have in your life. Choose to create the best customized Valentine’s Day that truly fills your heart and the hearts of your loved ones, too.

    There are no rules on how to get through Valentine’s Day – or any other tough holiday of the year for that matter. As long as you aren’t hurting the heart of God, or hurting others or yourself, or doing anything illegal, then authentically doing whatever helps your heart to heal or feel joy will be what creates an authentic, personalized Valentine’s Day.

    What kind of day can you custom create this Valentine’s Day?

    What will bring your heart comfort, warmth, and peace?

    What can you do to custom create a day of relaxation and solitude – or what can you do to create a day filled with loved ones and fun?

    Do you enjoy flowers, candy, and jewelry? If you have no one to buy these special gifts for you, consider buying these treats for others or yourself.

    Are you concerned someone won’t celebrate and honor you? You have great value! Celebrate and honor your own heart…because you deserve it!

    All of the usual things about Valentine’s Day…flowers, chocolates, jewelry, gifts, dinner, and gifts…although these things are amazing, they ultimately fail to include the very best thing about Valentine’s Day. They can’t even compete with the true meaning.

    Valentine’s Day is about genuine love and the precious hearts of ALL the special people God has graciously given to us to love in our lives: God, our family members (spouse/significant other, kiddos/little people, parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, etc), and also our own heart.

    Creating a special day to celebrate love – and the gift of love – is what will make the day special. It doesn’t have to primarily be about romance.

    In fact, I prefer it doesn’t so I’m not limited in my celebrations of the day. I will forever choose February 14 to be a day of gratitude and love.

    It is also a great source of comfort to know and truly realize that the Ultimate Valentine (God) loves and adores you! So much!! If there is ever a day a person feels they do not have any options for a Happy Valentine’s Day, there will always be One who constantly remains…and He loves each and every heart, spirit, and soul more than any human ever can. God is MORE than happy to spend the entire day with anyone who feels lonely or disappointed by life and love!❤️ https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

    You don’t even have to wait to enjoy God’s love…you can celebrate and soak up His incredible love each and every day of the year. https://griefbites.com/2016/12/30/making-2017-your-best-year-yet-43-ways-to-delight-in-god/

    Valentine’s Day is a gift. How you choose to unwrap the gift of Valentine’s Day is truly and authentically yours. Do something extra special…or do nothing at all. That’s how to create an authentic and personalized Valentine’s Day. Make it what you need it to be.

    Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you! May you always realize your great value, and how special and loved by God you truly are.

    Gratitude & many blessings,
    Kim

    ©2016 by Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

    ❤️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.

    Grief & (Post)Holidays—helpful tip #10

    Christmas has now come and gone.

    Those who are deeply grieving thought they could finally breathe a huge sigh of relief…yet some woke up today and didn’t feel the relief they thought they would feel. Some even woke up and felt worse.

    Something I wish someone would’ve told me about the days following a holiday is that some tough emotions can follow along with them.

    Today’s holiday tip? Be prepared for the depression, anxiety, and other surprising emotions that can follow Christmas, holidays, anniversaries, and other big life events…and come up with a plan for relaxation and how to best get through those times.

    Many grievers will feel relieved that Christmas is now behind them, while others are confused why they now suddenly feel worse.

    Emotions are so heightened before holidays, big days, or special occasions —in day-to-day life as well as grief—so after the holiday, event, or big day happens, those feelings can suddenly crash down…leaving you feeling depressed, anxious, a “void,” or defeated more than usual.

    Depending on how big the aftermath was, the feelings that accompany big events can take you by surprise and throw you for a loop.

    Always be kind to your heart, as well as compassionate and patient with yourself. Realize you’re not alone and what you’re feeling is normal.

    Be prepared for crashes, as well as any random feelings, and practice seeking God, peace, and times of relaxation when the feelings become overwhelming.

    There are many thoughtful ways to get through the tough emotions of grief, as well as many ways to relax. Try one of these 15 ideas – or creatively come up with your own:

    1. Pray—talk to God and share with Him all of your thoughts, feelings, fears, disappointments, worries, anxieties, heartache, etc
    2. Allow music to comfort your soul—listen to soft praise music and soothing sounds, or anything that relaxes you. Consider playing (or learning how to play) the piano, guitar, or other musical instrument.
    3. Breathe deep and relax—sit quietly, take a hot bath, take a nap, or do something that relaxes your mind. Breathing slow deep breaths can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
    4. This one is very important: remind yourself, “it isn’t always going to be like this”—these feelings will not always be as strong or intense. It is very important to remember life can and does get better. It will be different than what it once was…but it can get better.
    5. Call a trustworthy loved one—family, grief support groups, and good friends are so valuable when going through grief. It’s also great to talk to someone who has been through similar grief because they can share wisdom and insight of how they got through their worst days to find better days.
    6. Do an activity that brings joy to your heart—take time to truly enjoy doing a hobby or activity you currently or previously loved to do. You can also learn new hobbies or activities to do.
    7. Cooking and baking can be therapeutic—Invite some loved ones over and cook a delicious relaxing dinner together or bake together, or go out to eat and relax with loved ones as you have a night out. You can also have a quiet afternoon of baking by yourself and then enjoy the treats you baked and pass them out to loved ones.
    8. Sit in a comfy chair with a warm blanket and drink some hot tea, coffee, or hot cocoa—Read the Bible or a good book…something that is encouraging. As you drink your tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, savor this time of relaxation.
    9. Have a mini spa day at home or go out for one—stay home and do a homemade facial, manicure, and pedicure. Or go get a massage, fresh new haircut, or a pedicure at a spa. You could also bring a friend along and go to lunch afterwards.
    10. If the weather is nice, sit on a porch, go on a nature walk, or patio dine, if not, look out the window and enjoy the view—looking outside to relax and reflect on all the ways God has provided for you and carried you, considering the family and friends who have cared about you, and also reflecting on every good thing in your life that has the potential to bring your heart peace and joy…it all has a way of bringing peace to your soul. Sometimes a different outlook becomes much welcomed.
    11. Journal—write down your thoughts, goals, feelings, and life events. Journaling is so very therapeutic. It’s also beneficial to look back one day, read journals you’ve written, and see how you’ve grown – and how much you’ve overcome – and how far you’ve made it.
    12. Exercise or stretch—exercise has been proven to alleviate stress and help depression and anxiety. It also can be very relaxing. It takes your mind off of things for awhile, too.
    13. Organize your home and life—clutter can add to the chaos of grief, so dedicating even 20-30 min a day to decluttering your home and life is well worth the effort.
    14. Enjoy your pet or consider getting a pet—I believe pets are amazing little “heart healers” sent by God. Our family went through a tough grief experience and within a few months, we rescued a puppy. I always looked at our rescue dog and thought, “who rescued who.” Deep consideration should be used when getting a new pet. They’re a 6 to 15 year commitment, and a financial responsibility, so make sure you can handle the time commitment and responsibility of a furry lil friend. To me, they’re totally worth it! There also may be opportunities in your area to volunteer at a pet shelter or to foster pets if you’d like the therapeutic benefits of a pet, but can’t fully commit to a lifelong pet.
    15. Create a Bucket List—I’m a big believer in creating, keeping, and maintaining a bucket list. It helps to focus on the greater picture, as you write down everything you still want to do and achieve, so you purposely don’t waste life. There are many things I was able to do – that I otherwise wouldn’t have done – during times of grief because of goals I wrote in my Bucket List notebook.

    I hope these ideas are helpful to you and I hope all of you had a special, meaningful, and blessed Christmas!

    Never give up HOPE! Even if things aren’t ideal or good right now, better days are ahead of you. Some of your very best days may not have even happened yet. Hang in there!

    Gratitude & many blessings,
    Kim

    ©2015/2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️❤️⭐️

    70 Fun & Memorable Christmas Traditions

    I absolutely love Christmas.

    Growing up, my parents, especially my mom, made the holidays an extra special and magical time for my siblings and me. After I became a mom, I carried on some of the traditions that were passed down to me, and I also created some new ones for my own family.

    Hope you enjoy doing some of these – my absolute favorite Christmas traditions – with your loved ones!

    ~Kim

    1. Decorating the tree & home~
    Whether you put up one tree or many, or whether your tree is themed, simple, or filled with homemade ornaments, a tree should be a unique display of a family’s personal tastes, Christmas fun, and warm memories. Put on some Christmas tunes and decorate to your hearts content!

    2. Christmas baking party~
    Invite family and/or close friends over and make some yummy treats.
    The best part is sharing them with loved ones. If you know of someone who needs encouragement, why not surprise them with some cookies too!

    3. Looking at lights in your pajamas~
    This is one of my most treasured traditions. I fondly remember, as a child, my dad’s last Christmas and how I looked at Christmas lights in my pj’s sitting right next to him. I’ve done this tradition for a few decades ever since!

    Put on some super comfy PJ’s, bring along or buy some hot chocolate, listen to Christmas music, and drive around looking at lights. This can include just your immediate family or you can invite many family members and friends. Afterwards, watch a Christmas movie complete with holiday snacks.

    4. Play Christmas song charades~
    Get some people together and give everybody three little pieces of paper and have them write down three of their favorite Christmas songs… Then put the pieces of paper in a big bowl and have each person take turns drawing one of the pieces of paper out of the bowl and act out – without any words – the Christmas song they drew out of the bowl. Be prepared to laugh…hard.

    5. Christmas home video night~
    Every year, record home videos of every Christmas and then watch those special videos on the nights leading up to Christmas. Our family now has 30 videos, so we start 30 nights before Christmas Day, watching one each evening. It’s fun to warmly remember Christmases past, watch the kiddos when they were little, see precious loved ones who now are in Heaven, and see how much everyone has changed.

    6. Game night~
    Invite family and friends over to play games, drink hot chocolate or eggnog, and eat Christmas snacks. Have each person bring their favorite holiday snack or dessert to share.

    7. Snow ice cream~
    If it snows during December, make snow ice cream and watch Frosty the Snowman. If it doesn’t snow, have an ice cream sundae bar. Maybe make some snowball cookies, too.

    8. Surprise your grandparents & parents~
    Visit grandparents and/or parents and surprise them with a Christmas poinsettia, a fruit basket, freshly baked cookies, a gift, or a holiday treat such as Starbucks or a holiday flavored milkshake. It’s a great way to thank them for all they have done (and still do) for you and the investment they made/make in your life!

    9. Contribute to charity~
    Teach your children the joy of giving (and model compassion) by providing gifts to those in need. Consider writing those in the military and teaching your children about the sacrifices our military makes. Buy some cookies and then stop by the police department or fire stations and bless them with cookies as you tell them thanks. If you know of a widow or widower, do something special for them. Consider doing Angel Tree and choose an angel who shares a family member’s birthday. Give to a favorite organization.

    10. Scrapbook Night~
    Take lots of holiday photos, get the photos developed, and make a scrapbook. If you have kids, have them create one too. You’ll love seeing their creativity.
    Also, get out all of your old Christmas photos and reminisce about Christmases past.

    11. Indoor picnic~
    Make some traditional holiday food, picnic foods, or snack foods and have an indoor picnic while watching holiday movies or listening to Christmas music.

    12. Tea party~
    Make some fun holiday scones, tea sandwiches, and petite desserts and invite loved ones over for afternoon tea. You can also decorate Christmas sugar cookies at this event, too.

    13. Tepee/Fort Day~
    Make a teepee or fort in the middle of your living room with your kiddos, complete with decorations and lights, and then watch a Christmas movie.

    14. Finger paint with pudding~
    Make some vanilla pudding and color it with red food coloring and another batch with green food coloring and then “paint” on wax paper. Be sure to protect your table, floor, chairs, and clothing. It can be messy but a lot of fun! You can also just do vanilla pudding to avoid potential stains.

    15. Make ornaments~
    Google “make homemade Christmas ornaments” and get creative!

    16. Make homemade Christmas play dough~
    Make green, yellow, blue, brown, white, and red play dough and have fun with your kiddos creating Christmas themed creations.

    17. Christmas Eve gift~
    Start a tradition of opening up one present on Christmas Eve: a great book to read or warm pajamas!

    18. Homemade hot chocolate & story~
    Make hot chocolate together to drink while reading The Night Before Christmas or the Christmas story in the Bible on Christmas Eve.

    19. Treats for Santa~
    Leave out cookies and milk for Santa Claus…and don’t forget carrot sticks for Rudolph!

    20. Attend Christmas church services~
    Spend time praising God for His amazing gift and miracle of Christmas!

    21. Caroling~
    Go caroling in your neighborhood (or to a family member’s home) and pass out treats or a fruit basket to your neighbors or family.

    22. Live theater/ballet night~
    Get dressed up and go see the Nutcracker ballet, a Broadway musical, or a live performance of A Christmas Carol.

    23. Peace by the tree~
    Turn out the lights, except for your tree’s Christmas lights, and sit by your tree every night leading up to the New Year and spend time with God while listening to soft Christmas music.

    24. Advent~
    Do Advent with your kiddos. My favorite book to follow is, “Christ in Christmas: a family advent celebration”…very good book!

    25. Christmas Date~
    Make plans for a special Christmas date with your spouse and/or children (or nieces/nephews/siblings)….go buy a Christmas CD together and play it in the car, go out to lunch (let them choose the place), and then go to every store that interests your spouse and/or child and make a Christmas “wish list”. If you make this an annual tradition, your child/niece/nephew will have a great Christmas CD music collection when they’re an adult.

    26. Have a family Christmas card party~
    Buy or make Christmas cards, have the whole family sign each card, and send them to family and friends. When addressing the cards, pray for God’s blessings, provision, and favor on each family.

    27. The Reason for the season~
    Read all about the birth of Christ in the Bible to your children on Christmas Day and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before opening presents. Tell your kiddos that everything they receive for Christmas is all because God has blessed them with His goodness.

    28. Happy Birthday, Jesus~
    Have a birthday party for Jesus, complete with a birthday cake.

    29. Gifts for Jesus~
    Give Jesus a birthday gift of your choice: do something special for another person, set aside time to read your Bible everyday, develop the fruits of the Spirit all year long, etc…think of something truly special and then do it in honor of Jesus as a special birthday gift to Him.

    30. Thankful for family and friends~
    Treat a family member or friend to a place that has holiday themed treats: lots of restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops have special treats in December. Tell your loved one all of the ways you are thankful for them.

    31. Time for a holiday getaway~
    Take a trip to another destination and enjoy all the cool holiday fun. Disney World, Disneyland, Universal Studios, go ice skating at Hotel del Coronado (California), ICE at Gaylord hotels, Great Wolf Lodge, Silver Dollar City, the Biltmore Estate, New Orleans, New York City (best city ever😊), Chicago…the list of great places to go and enjoy holiday fun is endless! Of course, a staycation in your own hometown works, too!

    32. Host an impromptu Christmas or New Year’s Eve party~ Have guests bring their favorite holiday snack, dessert, or beverage to share with everybody.

    33. Movie night~ Host a Christmas movie night and provide popcorn and drinks.

    34. Frozen fun~ Go ice skating, snow tubing, or sledding…or build a snowman or have a snowball fight!

    35. Ornaments and memories~ Buy an ornament every week in December, as well as anytime you go on a trip or a vacation. As the years go on, you’ll end up with a great tree of memories.

    36. Cookie exchange~ Host a cookie exchange where everyone who attends pre-makes their favorite Christmas cookie or treat, and brings copies of the recipe, and everyone exchanges treats.

    37. Christmas karaoke~ Because singing around family and friends is a blasty blast!

    38. Sing around the piano~ Find a piano, someone who can play it, and gather ’round for some wonderful Christmas fun!

    39. Have a gingerbread house decorating contest with family and friends~ Lookup recipes online and don’t forget the toppings and decorations.

    40. Check out local Christmas festivities, parades, events, etc~ There’s so much to do throughout the entire month of December. Lookup fun activities and enjoy them.

    41. Photos with Santa~ Visit Santa Claus and get your pic taken with him. Be sure to write a letter to him, too, just for fun! For those who choose to not do the Santa thing, have a great discussion with your kiddos about the historical events of Christmas and the many traditions people enjoy.

    42. Fresh tree~ Go to a tree farm and cut down your own Christmas tree. Be sure to know how to properly and safely care for it to extend it’s life.

    43. Craft day~ Make a paper Christmas chain and count down the days until Christmas. Look online for craft ideas and have a relaxing, creative, fun night.

    44. Family camp out~ Have a family “camp out” or sleepover in the living room. Watch a Christmas movie, enjoy Christmas treats, get a flashlight and make reindeer/animal shadows on the ceiling, do Christmas crafts, and make cookies at midnight.

    45. Volunteer and give back~ Look for ways to be a blessing at your church or local charity, ring a bell for Salvation Army, or do another service project with your family. Consider making a donation or doing something special for a foster home or orphanage. Also, go through your closets and donate unused clothing.

    46. Kindness to the elderly~ Visit a local nursing home and sing Christmas carols and hand out Christmas cards. They love visitors!

    47. Play “Dirty Santa”~ Have family and friends buy a gift for $10 or less, get together and take turns having one person open a present…they can choose to open a gift from under the tree or if they like a gift someone else has already opened, they can “steal” it from them (this can happen up to 3 times).

    48. Host a White Elephant gift exchange~ Everybody brings a gag gift and exchanges gifts.

    49. Christmas Eve Watch Party~ Watch the news on Christmas Eve to “track” Santa Claus.

    50. Make Christmas dough ornaments~ If you have children, make handprint ornaments. Be sure to make some for the grandparents, too 🙂

    51. Tree Decorations~ Make popcorn garland and hang it on the tree. Candy canes are fun to hang on the tree, too!

    52. Music nights~ Attend local Christmas concerts at churches, schools, and in the community.

    53. Relax~ Take the time you need to rejuvenate and relax this holiday season. Some seasons, relaxing is better than all of the fun stuff.

    54. Watch It’s a Wonderful Life~ Thank God for all the family and friends you have in your life…and also for loved ones who are now living with Him.

    55. Thankfulness~ Every day in December, think of a person you are thankful for and something you are grateful for. Each day, call, write, or text the person you are thankful for to tell them why you are grateful for them.

    56. Prayer cards~ Every Christmas card you receive, place it in a special basket and pray for the family who sent it. Keep the basket out all year and pray for each family throughout the new year, too!

    57. Be a “Secret Santa”~ Secretly leave a gift at a loved one’s house.

    58. Flower power~ Send flowers or a Christmas floral arrangement to your parents, grandparents, or someone who has invested in your life.

    59. Childcare~ Offer to watch family member’s children so mom and dad can go on a Christmas date and get some holiday shopping done. If you happen to have extra money, pay for their date.

    60. Host a special Christmas brunch or holiday dessert party~ Invite family and friends over for a yummy good time!

    61. Make paper snowflakes~ Use your creativity to create beautiful snowflakes and hang them in your house.

    62. Go out to a Mexican restaurant~ While waiting for dinner, order some tortillas. Fold the tortillas in half 2-3 times then bite them in various places. When you unfold it, you’ll have made a tortilla snowflake.

    63. Play “I Spy” with Christmas decorations in your home~ This is fun for everyone – especially little people!

    64. Make homemade marshmallows~ Give them out to family and friends along with a box of hot chocolate or a jar of homemade hot chocolate mix.

    65. Remember family and friends who have lost a loved one or those who are going through a tough time in life~ Take the time to encourage them, call them, check on them, care about them, and include them. Christmas is especially difficult for new grievers, those who are experiencing loss, illness, or relationship conflict, and those who feel alone.

    66. Don’t sweat the small stuff~ Christmas should be a FUN and MEMORABLE time of year – just say no to drama and avoid conflict. As a gift to God, yourself, and others, drop any resentments you have towards family and friends so you can start the New Year fresh with a renewed, healthy, light heart. Give grace where and when you can, but don’t foolishly open you or your family – especially children – up to damaging hurt or harm. Forgiveness doesn’t always require reconciliation in toxic situations…it just requires taking the offender off your hook and placing them in God’s hands.

    67. Making memories is much more important than material things~ Do NOT go into debt. Keep things balanced. AVOID conflict over finances as much as possible! Be good to loved ones to the best of your ability, for sure, but stay within wise parameters of your budget. December is – and should be – a ton of fun, but January’s bills show up quickly! My absolute favorite gift to receive from anyone in my family is a heartfelt, handwritten letter. If you are financially challenged this year, consider writing a letter to your loved ones telling them how much they mean to you.

    68. Find 3 families to host a Progressive Dinner night~ One house does appetizers, the next does the main course, and the third house does desserts. Ask holiday themed questions as a friendly game or ask people to share their favorite Christmas memory.

    69. Take time out to nurture your relationships with God, your spouse & children, your parents, siblings, and the rest of your family~ In years to come, you will either say, “I’m so glad I took the time to do that” or “If only I had ____!” If you already have regrets, be kind to your heart and forgive yourself, realizing had you known better, you would’ve chosen or done better. Today is always a brand new opportunity to draw close to God, choose wisely, love others, and learn all you can to live the best life possible.

    70. Cherish & treasure TRUE Gifts~ This Christmas is an absolute GIFT!!! Not only is it the celebration and birthday of Jesus, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to extravagantly love all of your family and friends.

    Enjoy this holiday season to the FULLEST with God and loved ones! Make time for relaxation. Create the best memories possible. And always treasure the true Reason for the season!

    Gratitude & Christmas blessings to you,

    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.

    🎄❤️🎄

    Grief & Holidays—helpful tip #6

    This week, one of my dearest friends inspired me. Last year, her mom passed away and this week held the one year anniversary date of her mother’s Homegoing.

    Every griever knows how incredibly painful the “firsts” of grief are. Especially the anniversary of the death date, as well as the holidays.

    I hosted a special holiday coffee at my house for my friend and it happened to fall on her sweet mom’s one year anniversary death date.

    After offering to reschedule our coffee date, my sweet friend said she still wanted to have coffee at my house.

    As we enjoyed having coffee together and catching up, something my friend said deeply inspired me…she said, “Today is a painful day, but I’m going to spend the day doing things in my mom’s honor”—then she said, “I’m actually looking forward to it!”

    The first thing she did was pay the bill for the car behind her at a drive thru. She told the cashier to share with the person how today was the first anniversary of her mom’s death and she was paying the tab in her mother’s honor. It genuinely brought my friend’s heart so much unexpected joy.

    My helpful holiday tip for today is: Look for ways you can honor, celebrate, and remember your loved one by being a blessing to others.

    The Christmas season is now in full swing! With few days left until Christmas, we all have these few precious days to remember and honor a loved one in a meaningful, special way. We also have these few days until Christmas to be an extra blessing to our family, friends, and even anonymously to strangers.

    During this week, consider doing something special in memory of your loved one or for others:

    1. Plant a tree in your loved one’s memory to honor them. You can also choose to decorate the tree with lights and Christmas decorations in the years to come. If buying and planting a tree isn’t feasible, how about decorating your loved one’s grave? Or purchase a small tabletop artificial Christmas tree to decorate in your loved one’s honor and then bless someone with it? (You can also purchase an identical 2nd tree for your own home to decorate in your loved one’s honor, too!)

    2. Anonymously pay for the person’s order behind you if you’re in a drive thru or at a restaurant. You can also tell the cashier/waitress to tell the person you’re doing this in honor of your loved one.

    3. Make a donation to a local or national charity in their name. Maybe your loved one had a favorite charity you can donate to.

    4. Bake your loved one’s favorite treats or make up a fruit basket and give it to someone you know who is discouraged or going through grief. The baked treats can be store bought, too!

    5. Buy a gift you would’ve bought your loved one and then bless one of their favorite family members or friends with the gift.

    6. Think of an activity your loved one enjoyed doing while they were alive, and then give that experience as a gift to someone else (or invite them to do the experience with you). You can also give away an experience they wanted to do but never were able to. Was there something they wanted to do for Christmas or somewhere they wanted to go but never had the chance?

    I know a lady who gave a brand new skateboard to her nephew in honor of her son who loved extreme sports.

    I have a very dear friend in my grief group who had planned to take his wife to a new movie theater. He gave my husband and me a gift certificate to the movie theater and shared how he and his wife planned to go there and told us to enjoy our gift in their honor. His gift meant so very much to me!

    7. Continue to shop for your loved one and donate the gifts to whoever God places on your heart. For example: If you had a precious child who died, consider buying your child the toys/gifts you normally would have given them, then give those gifts to a child who is in need through the Salvation Army or Angel Tree. You can also give them to a family member or friend, too. I still buy a gift for my sister and give it anonymously to someone every year.

    8. Anonymously pre-pay for someone’s gas at the gas station. Go to the attendant and buy a gift card with cash, explain what you’re doing, and tell them to give the gas gift card to the next person who looks like they could use it or to someone who may need cheering up.

    9. If you know of someone who is going through grief, consider being their “Secret Santa.” Send them a gift card to your loved one’s favorite restaurant, buy and send them your loved one’s favorite book or CD (or other small gift) with a note telling them they’re cared about.

    10. If your loved one left behind children, consider doing something special for them. You could write them a nice card or verbally share wonderful or funny stories about their parent, you could buy them a gift you think their parent might’ve bought for them, or take them out for dinner.

    Just because our loved one(s) died, doesn’t mean we can no longer remember, celebrate, and honor them, and actively love them.

    If you don’t feel up to doing any of these ideas, consider doing something more peaceful such as inviting a family member or friend to attend a quiet Christmas service at church

    Think of something you can do today to include your loved one’s precious memory into your holiday traditions!

    Some will very much enjoy doing these things while others may not. If you don’t feel up to doing any of these ideas, then do not force yourself to do them. Grief takes time and everybody grieves differently. Always be kind to yourself!❤️

    Praying for all who are struggling and hurting today! I’m truly sorry for your heartache. May these tips bring your heart comfort, joy, peace, and HOPE!

    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.

    🎄❤️🎄

    Grief & Holidays—helpful tip #5

    Going through grief during the holidays brings many challenges—seen and unforeseen.

    Grief, especially during the Christmas season, can feel like a minefield of the soul. Step left, and you’re okay…but step right, and an explosion of memories and heartache can blow right up in your hurting heart.

    Today’s holiday grief tip is: Watch out for, plan for, and be mindful of triggers.

    While going through deep grief, there usually isn’t much of a desire to do anything at all, but with a few preparations, many situations that can present further heartache can be pre-planned for, contained, or avoided.

    Whether you have experienced the death of a treasured loved one, are going through illness, a divorce, or family conflict, or are going through another heartbreaking loss, grief during the holidays can certainly bite. Grief can bring many unwanted surprises and additional heartache that hasn’t been planned for. It also can be a challenge to balance grief, while also honoring and treasuring remaining loved ones. Hopefully, today’s tip can help prevent further grief so the holidays are more peaceful.

    Some people who are deep in grief have the full ability to do all of the usual Christmas traditions and activities they’ve always enjoyed doing…this even brings great comfort to some. For others, doing the usual activities and traditions feel as though their heart is being pierced with an indescribable pain. During grief, triggers can suddenly pop up and hurt very badly – with both scenarios.

    Sometimes, there’s a need for a griever to change things up so they can figure out how to enjoy the holidays once again. No choices need to be permanent or “set in stone”…change may be needed just for this year.

    No matter which you are experiencing, if you’re needing to change things up or keep things exactly as they are, here’s a list of questions to help you navigate through the holidays (and triggers) as comfortably as possible:

    1. Traditions~ What triggers do you think have the potential to surprise you? Is it putting up your usual ornaments or doing your usual traditions that previously held great sentimental memories? Is it baking your treasured loved one’s favorite recipe or a baked good they loved? Will doing these things trigger feelings of fond remembrance…or will they trigger deeper heartache? Also, consider places that are tied to traditions. For example, if you recently lost a spouse, and you always went to get coffee or a meal together at a specific coffeehouse or restaurant, will you feel comfortable or uncomfortable seeing other couples at the same place? Or if you lost a child, please consider if it will be too hard to go to the mall and see children there with their parents? Sometimes, it is hard for grievers to see all of the joy-filled couples or families while out shopping or dining. Shopping online or getting take-out can truly be a griever’s best friend during the holidays. Consider all of the traditions that you treasure and then decide which you would like to do, and which ones to wait until next year to do.💕
    2. Events~ What events do you feel you could enjoy, and what events might prove to be too painful to attend this year? What events do you think can provide you with feelings of love, encouragement, and hope? What events do you feel may no longer interest you? Events should make you feel better, and definitely not worse. Look out for any events that you feel would simply be too hard to attend this year.
    3. Relationships~ Who has been helpful or encouraging to you in your grief? Are there loved ones in your life who don’t quite understand grief or what you’re going through? Is there anyone in your life who you can ask for extra support this holiday season? Grief, sadly, reveals the depth of majority of a griever’s relationships. Relationships can be a blessing, or they can definitely become challenging during times of grief. Communication can greatly help to prevent confusion and heartache. What if you’re already at a family gathering or a friend’s holiday party and you begin to feel uncomfortable? Sometimes, it can be a necessity to go to a different room at gatherings or events if you’ve tried to communicate with loved ones about your grief, yet they continue to compound your grief and cause further conflict. Ideally, do everything possible to keep and maintain peace, but sometimes, it may be best to distance yourself from additional hurt by preventing relational triggers…and instead, primarily and purposely be around those who will offer you kindness and support at family gatherings or friend events. Avoid conflict, especially with family, as much as possible. And always realize beforehand that emotions can be heightened during times of grief so preparation may be needed. Whatever choices are made, do everything in love.
    4. Usual enjoyments~ There are so many things to savor and enjoy during the holidays…all of the sights, sounds, fragrances, tastes, memories, and joys…but after grief shows up, be prepared that these things can now potentially trigger intense feelings of loss and heartache. What favorite holiday enjoyments could possibly be a trigger for you this year? For example: What Christmas songs can bring sadness this season? You might want to make a playlist that you create to avoid hearing songs that will intensify grief. Think about the things you’ve previously enjoyed and decide which you’ll want to savor and enjoy…or not. There’s nothing wrong with waiting until next year to try to enjoy familiar holiday enjoyments if they prove to be too hard, sad, or daunting this year.
    5. Church~ If you’re used to attending church holiday services, or if you’ve never attended, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so. Christmas services are an amazing experience every year! Be prepared, however, that they may be much more emotional this year. When going through grief, feelings can be very intense. If you’ve allowed God to guide you and encourage you through your grief, attending Christmas services will be a much more meaningful experience for you. After my sister’s fiancé passed away, she was surprised to find that heavy tears surfaced out of nowhere as the church band played. Be prepared for possibly more intense feelings during church services this time of year. If you know you’ll feel uncomfortable attending services, check to see if your church offers online services. Many churches do. Saddleback, Elevation, and Life.Church all have fantastic online Christmas services. Sometimes, it is very helpful to go ahead and attend church in person so you can be around others and not feel so isolated or alone. There is no wrong or right answer, so do whatever brings you and your family the most peace.

    Being mindful of triggers definitely doesn’t mean to avoid Christmas activities or enjoying your loved ones this year. There are so many wonderful things about the Christmas season that can bring unimaginable joy to your heart! Just being prepared, as well as a little planning, can ensure a much more relaxed, comfortable, more enjoyable, and peace-filled holiday season.

    Wishing everybody love, peace, encouragement, healing ,and HOPE throughout this beautiful season and the new year!

    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. NEW!🎄Experiencing The Holidays With Jesus: Christmas~ http://bible.com/r/3V5

    ⭐️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 & Holidays—helpful tip #2

    Everyone dreams of having the most wonderful, pie-in-the-sky-high, beautiful, and memorable Christmas season.

    The reality for many is presently not so beautiful, memorable or wonderful though…

    • some have lost a treasured loved one and are deeply missing them
    • some are going through a divorce, adultery issues, or terrible marital problems
    • some are going through intense family or extended family conflict
    • some have a spouse or a child who is incarcerated
    • some are experiencing “blended” family challenges
    • some are estranged from a parent, child, sibling, or other important family member
    • some are going through financial devastation or hardships
    • some are experiencing a serious illness or the illness of a loved one
    • some have lost a precious child through death or a miscarriage 
    • some have a spouse, child, or family member away in the military, or who does mission work, or travels longterm for work
    • some have major in-law issues or a difficult family member
    • some recently broke up with a fiance or significant other 
    • some are going through a “prodigal” situation, deep rebellion, or addiction issues with a spouse or child
    • some are going through infertility issues and desperately want a child…or are mourning an abortion or regret placing their baby for adoption
    • or some are experiencing other major grief experiences or life challenges

    There are many who are hurting, so the holidays turn from being a joyful time of expectation into being a dreaded time of devastation.

    My holiday tip today is:

    Grieve the loss of not being able to enjoy the holidays how you once knew them, or how you wish they could be. You are NOT selfish for missing someone or mourning the fact that holidays are a sad time for you.

    Holidays can be very challenging when life is painful or chaotic, or especially after experiencing a major loss. When life knocks the breath out of you, it sometimes becomes necessary to learn how to breathe again…and that may include learning how to navigate through the holidays and life after a major loss has taken place.

    You may not feel like the cheeriest elf on the block…and that’s totally okay. It takes time to experience happiness and joy after life crushes and devastates you.

    Everybody has a holiday “ideal” – how we wish the holidays could be.

    It doesn’t seem like it would help, but it truly brings peace as we choose to mourn the loss of holidays as we wish them to be.

    As we choose to create a new holiday season that is kind to our heart, brings hope and comfort to us and our remaining loved ones, and honors our grief…and choose to lean into God’s heart…a peaceful holiday season is possible.

    Even through thick grief, we truly have the ability to create meaningful holidays. They might not hold the same joy you once knew, but they can be special and meaningful once again.

    The next tips I share in my next blog post will share specific ideas on how to navigate through the holidays during times of grief, yet still create a meaningful holiday season.

    Praying right now for everybody who is going through trials, challenges, conflicts, and grief. I am genuinely sorry for your heartache and pain!

    May you all choose to create and have a peaceful, meaningful, special holiday season filled with memorable moments.

    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim

    ©2015 Kim Niles of Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    🎄❤️🎄