Tag Archive | holidays

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, 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Christmas church service, 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 they avoid seeing them altogether. Please let them know you care. An invitation will 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, and simply let them know someone truly cares. No words necessary…just be truly, genuinely caring and be 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 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:
⭐️ <u
p://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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617

⭐️FREE YouVersion reading plan:

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

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The 10 Thieves of Christmas 

So, who all has seen How The Grinch Stole Christmas?

If you’ve not seen, or at least heard of, the Grinch, you probably live in a remote village with no TV or wifi access.

I watched the tv show version of the grinch with my family as a child while growing up, and I have now always watched the grinch with my own family ever since I got married each year as well.

I love the complexity of this show because of the many elements – and so much of life happens in similar ways. 

Just like the Grinch and the Whos of Whoville, you dream of what life has to offer…you plan and prepare for it…something happens and wrecks your plan, attempting to rob you of your joy…and then there is growth – and eventually healing. And this circle goes on and on and on through multiple different circumstances all throughout life.

Just like when the Grinch attempts to steal Christmas from The Whos – and all seems lost, 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 life event, or someone sucking all of your 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 true, 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. If you are going through grief, be kind to your remaining loved ones and yourself. 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 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 you or they don’t care to celebrate 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 disappointment it is, then give all of my expectations to God, and then finally write down a checklist of all of the good I have in my life. Sometimes when you see what you do have in life it alleviates what you do not.

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…spouses are stressed due to a multitude of reasons – maybe even undealt with past conflict…kids are shuffled between homes and become irritable…family members fail to value one another…certain family members bring up problems during Christmas dinner or make catty or rude 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 will 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. 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 to see how to best handle the conflict. If it can be resolved or talked out, family harmony is very important. Sometimes, that just, sadly, isn’t possible. There’s a big difference between an annoying or opinionated relative and an extremely toxic one who can truly create long term damage. Pray and ask God for wisdom of how to handle situations, give grace where 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 alcohol, food/overeating, overspending, etc, you have to be so very careful to maintain your sobriety 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 $5,000. 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!

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 but 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 lots of Christmas cards…being invited to holiday parties…having a special friend or romantic partner to do activities with…snuggling up with someone or doing lots of fun Christmas activities with friends…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 extremely alone. More alone than I had ever felt. I had just been through a traumatic grief event 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. 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 super lonely 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 spouses of 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. 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. How cool would that be? 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 things about financial challenges are the creativity you can develop through hard times, the drive to create a better life, and realizing that 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. The only thing that truly matters is Christ and loved ones. Everything else is just a bonus.

7. Medical Diagnosis –
Medical diagnoses or issues are 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, frustration. You may even feel angry or cheated. Illness is difficult and can leave you feeling helpless and even depressed. 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. Prodigal spouse, child, or family member –
I’ve never seen a time in my life where there was such spiritual warfare in families. Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a phone call to meet with clients who are experiencing the pain of a spouse who has committed adultery, the heartache of an adult child who has abandoned their Christian faith, or a sad situation of family estrangement. Parents abandon their children…children are now abandoning their parents…family members quit talking to one another…it’s just 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 yourself. 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. He loves you and your loved ones – and can do – more than you can imagine. Trust His heart! He, better than anyone, knows exactly how you feel. His 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_____…”…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 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 and 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. 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 to create a brand new future.

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 these next few days. 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: time with God, family, friends, and your church family…attending Christmas services at church…Christmas music…a good Christmas movie…hot cocoa…Christmas lights. 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 relax!

There are so many thieves that can invade Christmas and obliterate it’s usual cheer.

With just 4 days until Christmas, make the decision to be kind to your heart…and to celebrate these remaining days of the holiday in the most stress-free, enjoyable, and relaxed way possible.

Whether you are feeling sadness, or you are feeling cheerful, take the time to focus on the most important Reason for the season. Spend time seeking God’s heart and thank Him for the absolute miracle of Christmas.

When it all comes down to it, the holiday is truly only about Jesus. Never allow anyone or anything to steal your joy in Him!

I truly wish each of you a very blessed Christmas! 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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617&nbsp;

🎄FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships&nbsp;
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed&nbsp;
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites&nbsp;
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
❤️

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:

⭐️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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617&nbsp;

⭐️FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
2. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships&nbsp;
3. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed&nbsp;
4. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites&nbsp;

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, or you recently went through an ugly divorce or tough breakup, or 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 cheated on you or betrayed your trust and you’re in the heart wrenching transition of cleaning up a horrible mess you didn’t choose, create, or deserve.

Maybe you’ve longed to have a spouse or a special someone in your life, but things never worked out quite how you wanted them to, 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” to your significant other or spouse – and no matter how much you’ve shared or communicated your feelings, needs, and desires, Valentines Day will simply be another annual holiday let down…just like every other past Valentine’s Day.

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

There are many reasons – spoken and unspoken – why some are less than enthusiastic about February 14: the day of love, chocolate, and roses.

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. I actually had spent several hours writing a list, but my computer crashed and it was all lost. I’m now glad it was, even though it was very frustrating at the time, because I think this post is much more real, heartfelt, realistic and authentic than the original list I came up with.

As I kept pondering Valentine’s Day, I realized that lists can be a huge source of help – because face it…some people do not have a romantic bone in their body and they need all the help they can get – but by following lists, it still keeps the focus exclusively on the romantic facets of the holiday. 

And I think that’s a big problem.

I remember times in the past that I could have been the president of the Valentine’s Day Sucks Club. During these times, I was in the midst of certain grief experiences (death of a loved one, being alone on Valentine’s Day, after getting married – having marriage issues, going through relationship conflict, feeling as though there was no hope to be had, etc). And I get it…because I remember holidays not being so great during these times. 

I didn’t read any blogs at the time, and frankly, if I had been in a state of mind to read, I’m not sure a tidy little list could have helped me out or solved my hurts. They most likely would have encouraged me, but I’m not sure I’d feel much better after reading them in the long run.

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 away and you just want something real.

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

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

How do you wish to spend Valentine’s Day? What can you do to create a wonderful day for your loved ones and yourself?

Maybe you want to celebrate big. Maybe you’re so discouraged that 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 or 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, grandparents, other family, or friends, then wholeheartedly do that. If it means baking Valentine’s Day treats and passing them out to loved ones or those you know who are hurting, then go and enjoy that. If it means warmly remembering and honoring your loved ones who are no longer here, then do that. If it means putting on your comfiest pajamas, lighting the fireplace, and getting a big box of chocolates and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s (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 celebrate. Do whatever makes you feel comfy, cozy, and happy!

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, good memories and wholeness.

Expectations of how one thinks the day should go…or expecting others to fill their heart up…is the quickest road to arrive at disappointment and heartache. Instead of waking up on February 14th with great expectations…and then waking up on the 15th with disappointments or sadness, what if you purposely choose to cultivate gratefulness for any evidence of love you have in your life… and on the morning of February 14th, 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 God, other people, or yourself…or doing anything illegal…then authentically doing whatever helps your heart to heal or feel great joy will be what creates a wonderful, personalized Valentine’s Day.

What kind of day can you custom create this Valentine’s Day? What will bring your heart joy, comfort, warmth, and peace? Do you want a day of relaxation and solitude or do you want 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, fancy dinners, 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 hearts of ALL the precious people God has graciously given us to love in our lives: God’s heart, our family members’ hearts (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 choose for February 14 to be a day of gratitude and love.

It is also a great source of comfort for each person to know and truly realize that the Ultimate Valentine loves and adores their heart. 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 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! Just ask!❤️

So how can you celebrate and create love tomorrow and each and every day of the year?

The creation of how you choose to unwrap the gift of Valentine’s Day is truly and authentically yours. Do something extra special!

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

Gratitude, LOVE, 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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617&nbsp;

FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships&nbsp;
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed&nbsp;
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites&nbsp;
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

❤️

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 it. Today’s holiday tip? Be prepared for the depression, anxiety, and other intense emotions that can follow Christmas, holidays, anniversaries, and other big life events…and come up with a plan for relaxation during 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 and crash of feelings was, the feelings that accompany big events can take you by surprise and even be alarming. 

Always be kind to yourself, as well as compassionate and patient with yourself, too. 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 positive 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 15:

  1. Pray—talk to God and share with Him all of your thoughts, feelings, fears, disappointments, worries, 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 body and mind. Breathing slow deep breaths can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
  4. 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.
  5. Call a trustworthy loved one—family, grief support groups, and good friends are invaluable when going through grief. The more support you can gain, the better. 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 to better days.
  6. Do an activity that brings your heart joy—take some 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 or pass them out to loved ones.
  8. Sit in a comfy chair with a warm blanket and drink some hot tea, coffee, or hot chocolate—Light a candle and read the Bible or a good book, something that is encouraging. As you drink your tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, and as you burn your candle, stop and savor the smell.
  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. Bring a friend along, too, and go to lunch afterwards.
  10. Sit on a porch, look out the window, patio dine, or go on a nature walk—looking outside to relax and reflect on all the ways God has provided for and carried you, family and friends have cared about you, and also reflect on every good thing in your life that has the potential to bring your heart peace and joy. 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 far you’ve come.
  12. Exercise or stretch—exercise has been proven to alleviate stress and help depression and anxiety. It also can be very relaxing.
  13. Organize your home and life—clutter can add to the chaos of grief, so dedicating even 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 still always look at our dog and think, “who rescued who.” Deep consideration should be used when getting a new pet. They’re a 6-15+ year commitment 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 during times of grief because of goals I wrote in my Bucket List notebook.

I hope everybody 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! 

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

Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

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

FREE YouVersion reading plans:


1. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
2. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships&nbsp;
3. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed&nbsp;
4. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites&nbsp;

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

70 Fun & Memorable Christmas Traditions

I absolutely love Christmas! 

Growing up, my mom made the holidays an extra special and magical time for our family 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 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 perfectly themed or filled with mismatched 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~
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 a bunch of people together and give everybody 3 little pieces of paper and have them write down 3 of their favorite Christmas songs… Then put the pieces of paper in a big bowl and have each person take turns drawing 1 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 videos on the nights leading up to Christmas. Our family now has 25 videos so we start 25 nights before Christmas Day, watching one each evening. 

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

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 and 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. Bake or buy cookies and then stop by the police department or fire stations and bless them with cookies. 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.

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!
Also, get out all 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 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

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.

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 pajamas!

18. Homemade hot chocolate & story~
Make homemade hot chocolate to drink while reading The Night Before Christmas 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 and pass out treats or fruit baskets to your neighbors.

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 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 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 great treats in December.

31. Time for a holiday getaway~
Take an impromptu trip to another destination and enjoy all the cool holiday fun. Disney World, Disneyland, Universal Studios, 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.

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!

42. Fresh tree~
Go to a tree farm and cut down your own Christmas tree. Be sure to know how to properly 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 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 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 a soup kitchen, 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. Pedicures are awesome, too!

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 thankful 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.

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 & others, drop any resentments you have towards family & friends so you can start the New Year fresh with a renewed light heart.

67. Making memories is much more important than material things~
Don’t go into debt. Keep things balanced!
Also…avoid conflict over finances as much as is in your power to do so.

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 holiday 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 yourself and forgive yourself, realizing had you known better, you would’ve chosen 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 your family & friends!

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:

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

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

🎄FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
2. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships&nbsp;
3. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed&nbsp;
4. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites&nbsp;

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

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

Grief & Holidays—helpful tip #6

This week, one of my dearest friends inspired me. Dianne’s mom passed away last year from a battle with cancer 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 Dianne and a few of our “coffee” friends (we’ve been meeting together the past year to pray for each other and each other’s families) and it happened to fall on Dianne’s sweet mom’s one year anniversary death date. 

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

As we enjoyed having coffee together and catching up, something Dianne 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 Dianne’s heart 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 one week left until Christmas, we all have 7 days to remember and honor a loved one in a meaningful, special way. We also have one week before 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. 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 his story about 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 sharing wonderful or funny stories about their parent, you could buy them a gift that you think their parent might’ve bought for them, or simply take them and their remaining parent out for dinner.

Just because our loved ones died, doesn’t mean we can no longer celebrate them, honor them, and actively love them. 

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

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

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

⭐️FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
2. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships&nbsp;
3. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed&nbsp;
4. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites&nbsp;

🎄Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (book that shares tips on grief with a chapter dedicated to traditions, grief, and holidays): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617&nbsp;