Tag Archive | honoring loved ones

The Time A Goat Attacked My Son & The Powerful Lesson I Learned

This week, I decided to watch some home videos. Now, I have a plethora of home videos to choose from, due to videoing many family and life events the last few decades.

Experiencing the deaths of multiple family members and friends has taught me to make memories and preserve them through photography and videography.

The home video I randomly chose today was definitely from the vault…it’s over two decades old. It was a video of when my son was pounced on by a goat at Disney World. My son (who is now an adult) was – and still is – an animal lover. This particular day, he was super excited to spend time with the animals at the Affection Section part of Conservation Station at Animal Kingdom.

As soon as we entered the gate, my son got a brush so he could pet, brush, and interact with all of his animal friends. No sooner than he had gotten the brush, a goat pounced my son and then accidentally bit him as this new furry friend tried to eat his shirt.

My son (who was seven years-old at the time), sweetly placed his hand on the goat’s shoulder and said, “Now you quit that, Mr. Goat!”

My son then used the brush in his hand and started combing the hyper goat to calm him down.

My son then said, “Poor lil fella, you must be having a bad day.”

My son taught me a powerful lesson that day. My husband and I had a disagreement earlier that morning…and seeing my son handle conflict the right way sure convicted this mama’s heart.

People in our lives (and we) can be like Mr. Goat: attempt to pounce you and steal your joy…snap at you…be rude…create chaos…be difficult…

…but our response can either add to the chaos…or diffuse it.

The secret is in our character.

My son could’ve chosen to have poor character when that goat pounced him. He could’ve screamed at the goat…could’ve pushed or shoved the goat…could’ve even chosen to do something uncharacteristic by hitting the goat with the brush in his hand…but he chose:

  • gentleness instead of wrath
  • compassion instead of indifference
  • respect (and self-respect) instead of attitude
  • to honor God’s creation instead of mistreating or abusing it
  • discernment instead of quick judgment
  • to forgive, bring peace to the situation, and show kindness

Anytime we are mistreated by a loved one, we, too, have an opportunity to respond the exact same way:

  • Do we choose to use gentle words that heal…or do we blow up and display wrath?
  • Do we choose to look at the entirety of the situation and use compassion…or do we choose to be indifferent to the situation and the other person’s feelings?
  • Do we choose to show respect (showing respect is also evidence we respect our own self)…or do we choose to lack respect and self-control by drenching the other person with attitude or ignoring them?
  • Do we choose to view the person with God’s eyes (as His precious, treasured child/creation)…or do we choose to behave in an abusive way towards those God has entrusted in our life?
  • Do we choose to discern what a loved one is truly feeling or may be going through…or are we quick to judge and discard them?
  • Do we choose to work out the problem and extend forgiveness, peace, and kindness…or do we hold a grudge, speak poorly about them, and look for their flaws, holding it over their head?

By the way: I’m talking to myself here as much as I’m talking to y’all. This is a topic we all need to work on, am I right?🤗

Think of the people you have had conflict with.

How did you handle it?

How did they handle it?

How do you wish you had handled it?

How do you wish they had handled it?

Sometimes, we are the goat. We’re the instigator. We’re the one who is creating chaos or conflict by our own thoughts, actions, words, and deeds. We all think we are the innocent one…but everyone has mistreated loved ones at some point. Dig deep to the root of the conflict and have the courage to genuinely self-reflect. What was their contribution to the conflict? What was your contribution to the conflict? Majority of conflict is not one-sided. We all must look inward and take responsibility for our part. 

Sometimes, we are the one who was hurt or offended. Even though we were wronged, we are still responsible for our part…our reactions…every subsequent thought, action, word, and deed. It’s a good time to reflect on what change is needed by the other person…but it is also an excellent time to do a self-check to see if we’ve done something similar to God, to them, or to another person.

God sums up relationships and life in one simple and ultimate command — Love God, love others.

Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

None of us are perfect. None of us will float through life without hurting or offending our loved ones…

…but…

…it is up to us to make things right when we wrong our loved ones…to work things out…to forgive our loved ones when they wound us…and ultimately to obey God by loving Him and others – and treat others how we want to be treated.

When we hurt or offend others, God desires for us to do the right thing – by apologizing and asking for forgiveness…to reconcile. It’s so important to God that He offers this instruction:

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.

Whatever conflict you are going through (or have ever experienced), take the time to look at it not just with your own eyes and viewpoint, but through God’s and the other person’s eyes and viewpoint. Combining all three perspectives brings balance and resolution to the situation – which can ultimately provide healing.

Just a note: If someone is abusing you – especially things that could put them in jail – seek help from a qualified pastor or professional. In no way am I advocating tolerating, overlooking, or excusing abuse.

Spend some time with God today and sort through the times of conflict you’ve experienced in life. Talk with God about who has hurt or offended you…then talk to God about those you know you have hurt or offended. Next, ask God to reveal to your heart anyone you may have hurt or offended but didn’t realize it. Finally, ask God for wisdom and for Him to guard, guide, and direct you in any steps of forgiveness and reconciliation He may want you to take.

The next time you experience conflict, remember Mr. Goat…and be the mercy today that you’ll hope to receive tomorrow.

Did you know God has a lot to say about conflict – and peace? God promises to bless those who seek to be a peacemaker. Some important verses to read and ponder this week:

Matthew 5:9, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 7:12, So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Matthew‬ ‭7:3-5‬,Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

2 Corinthians 13:11, Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Psalm 34:14, Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Ephesians 4: 29-32, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Hebrews 12:14, Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Mark 11:25, And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Proverbs 16:7, When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
James 1:19-20, Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Hope this post brought encouragement and hope to your heart! May we all seek to be peacemakers in all of our relationships!

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2020 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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

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⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

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🌺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

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⭐️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.

A Good Reminder For The Holidays…

🎄❤️🎄Grief is difficult…and this time of year can be excruciatingly painful.

Intense sadness. Expectations – from others and of ourselves. Trying to navigate through grief as we try to redeem the holidays. It can all be overwhelming.

Take a moment – or several – throughout the day and just breathe.

Pray. God is a STRONG refuge & TRUE Friend.

Be kind to your heart.

Be so very good to others.

When you’re around family who aren’t acting like the gift they are – remember everybody needs love, acceptance, and kindness…us and them.

Love, care, and seek to be a blessing to others.

Remember and honor your treasured loved one(s) who you miss so very much.

Make a great cup of coffee or tea, put on some soft music, get cozy, and just relax.

If you need a good cry, let it out. It’s totally okay to grieve deeply.

Pamper your heart and soul by doing something peaceful and calming.

Enjoy a good meal with loved ones.

Eat some ice cream or a baked good…something to cheer your heart. I’ve never seen anyone sad while eating either.

Feed your spirit by feasting on the Word of God.

Put your pajamas on, wrap up in a warm blanket, and watch a Christmas movie or home videos.

Light your Christmas tree, turn on some soft Christmas music, and share your day with Jesus. I have found this to be the best way to end my day throughout the season.

If there is a special family member who has been there for you, thank them and share with them you need extra love, encouragement, and support over the holidays. We all need trusted family members and friends throughout grief.

I’m praying for all of you and your families!

Lift the burden of getting through the holidays with the help of our Heavenly Father who loves and adores each of us so much.

You matter. Your heartache matters. And God truly cares.

May each of you have a peaceful & beautiful holiday season!🎄❤️🎄

©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.

🎄❤️🎄

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.**

Grief Bites

I previously posted this a few years ago, but thought it’d be a good repost since I am often asked how we came up with the name “Grief Bites” for our ministry. Hope this brings hope and encouragement to all who read it!💗

“Grief Bites.”

Such a simple sentence…yet complex and filled with incredible pain.

My sister called me one morning while I was in deep grief to ask how I was doing.

“Grief Bites” is all I could mutter through my tears.

Little did I realize how a little two-word simple sentence would transform my grief…and be the start of a significant plan pre-orchestrated by God.

That one random phone call, that one question, and those two little words – God would eventually develop it into 3 published books, a local grief organization, a national grief ministry that would encourage and give hope to people through multiple church campuses, an international blog that serves grief communities in over 150 countries, as well as several Bible Reading Plans on YouVersion (the Bible app that offers hope and encouragement to millions).

The morning my sister called me, we both were in the middle of experiencing a lot of grief.

I was going through multiple grief experiences – and my sister had just experienced the death of her fiancé.

I was sick of grief – and to be honest, I was sick of life. I literally felt like I was “dead but couldn’t die”…as though all of my breath and “life” had been sucked out of my lungs and heart. Anyone who has experienced deep grief can completely understand the intense heartache I’m describing.

In the 3 years leading up to that phone call:

  • my son had been diagnosed with tumors and went through several consultations and three surgeries in hospitals in three cities and two different states for ten months
  • 3 of my son’s friends died
  • my grandmother died in a freak accident a few days before Christmas
  • 2 family members – one from my side of the family and one from my husband’s side – died on the same day
  • my husband deeply betrayed me and our marriage crumbled almost to the point of divorce
  • I had a cancer scare that required 2 surgeries
  • my sister’s 2nd fiancé suddenly died on Easter (this was her 2nd fiancé to pass away..her 1st fiancé died a few weeks before our other sister’s death)
  • key family relationships I dearly loved deeply changed
  • a loved one battled addiction
  • a family member committed suicide
  • I became extremely ill out of nowhere – and although I didn’t change my diet, I went up 5 dress sizes within 3 months. I would eventually be diagnosed with a serious autoimmune illness due to stress…and was bedridden for a lengthy time (I eventually found an effective treatment so I can be fully functional)

With everything happening so quickly together, I felt incredibly defeated.

To go through several deaths, my son’s illness, my illness, heartbreaking issues, relationship losses and changes, among other losses…all within a short period of time…was very challenging…

…but I knew I wanted good to come out of it. I wasn’t about to allow life or grief to defeat me, and I wasn’t going to sit down, have a pity party, and become – or worse, remain – a depressed mess. I had already been tempted to do that when my sister died and that wasn’t going to be my reality again.

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

While growing up:

  • my dad was killed
  • my favorite grandmother (who lived with us after my dad’s death) died a few years later
  • after my mom remarried, we moved twice within months
  • our home completely flooded the week of Christmas and we lost all of our belongings. We ended up living in a motel for several months while our home was repaired
  • my step-grandmother unfairly rejected and mistreated my mom, my siblings, and me…just because my mom was a widow with children
  • I lost two grandparents, my step-grandmother, two uncles, two friends, and an aunt to cancer
  • I went through a traumatizing event and was hospitalized in ICU where I almost died (my sister saved my life)
  • my high school boyfriend died in a car accident
  • I was in an abusive relationship in high school, so abusive I was pushed out of a speeding car just for wearing lipstick
  • my good friend died from suicide
  • a friend was murdered
  • a friend from my bible study group died from suicide
  • my dad was laid off twice and had to live in a different city for two years
  • I experienced deep church hurt
  • my older sister’s 1st fiancé died (her fiancé was also one of my best friends)
  • and a few weeks later, my 22 year-old sister suddenly died on Thanksgiving

All of this before I was 20 years old…so I knew what grief could do. I understood the heartbreaking days and nights, as well as how difficult it could be to get through.

BUT this time was different.

I didn’t want to just try to “get over” my grief. This time, I was desperate to get through my grief…and truly understand.

As I already previously did (while growing up), I didn’t want to be forever mad at God and “life”…I actually needed to deeply and heart-wrenchingly take my tough questions to God so I could come to genuine peace with Him.

I didn’t want to live in the shadow of grief the rest of my life. I wanted to find a new way of life that made sense … a new way of life that held meaning and purpose.

Majority of the grief experiences we go through will never make sense, but I found that purpose and good can come out of any circumstance…if you allow life – and yes, even grief – to teach you lessons. They are not fun lessons, but they do hold tremendous value.

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

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

God is a genius at healing a broken heart and repairing a crushed spirit.

God can turn a test into a testimony…a mess into a message…a trial into a triumph…a victim into a victor…

The reason I share my grief is not to solicit sympathy or pity…absolutely not. I count grief as one of the best things to ever happen to me.

I don’t count the grief events – any of the heartache – as a good thing…goodness no...but how grief shaped my heart and life purpose holds tremendous value to me. It was through everything I went through in the past that made me who I am today.

I must say…I initially turned against God due to all of the grief I endured while growing up. I went through major rebellion initially…but I eventually became a Christian and submitted my heart and life to God’s plan when I was 18 years-old.

A good friend had challenged me to rethink my grief…and all I thought about God. He challenged me to read the entire Bible and get to know God for myself.

I’ve never been the same since.

As I got to know God, He eventuality revealed an important truth: With each grief experience He entrusted to me, God was widening my understanding, empathy, and ability to deeply understand grief – and eventually help and encourage others.

After sharing with my sister those two life-changing words, “Grief Bites,” we began discussing how we could help encourage other grievers through the grief experiences we each had faced.

Right before this conversation, I had begun writing a book to help encourage my son, mom, sister, and other family members through their deep grief. I had years of journals I had written of all God had shown me through multiple grief journeys and I was doing an in-depth Bible study on grief, loss, trials, hardships, and life challenges.

While attending a family member’s out of town birthday party, I didn’t know many people there, so I took out my iPad and continued to write the grief book I was writing for my family.

My brother (who is a pastor) had a fellow pastor friend there. This friend approached me and asked what I was working on. After showing him the book I was working on, he encouraged me to submit my book into the Women of Faith Book Writing Contest.

I didn’t expect anything to happen or come of it…but then I received the news that my book was chosen as a Semi-finalist.

My book, Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You, was published and was given out at two Women of Faith Conferences.

With my book, ministry, blog, YouVersion plans, and anything else I do, I take absolutely no credit. It is all God. I give God all of the credit and glory. I’m just a good listener who writes all the Lord shows me. And all of my book royalties are (and always have been) poured back into local grief communities and churches.

God (through grief) has taught me incredibly powerful lessons I never could have hoped to learn any other way. I’m a much better Christ-follower, spouse, mom, aunt, family member, friend, neighbor, grief coach, and church member due to my grief. My compassion, mercy, understanding, and ability to communicate with grievers was deeply developed through each grief experience I faced and – with the grace of God – overcame.

It is also through my grief experiences I found my purpose in life: I get the privilege of helping so many through their grief so they are able to live better lives.

Although extremely painful to go through, I finally (and through a lot of hard work) came to a place of peace with each grief experience.

So why blog, write, and speak about grief?

Because grief has a huge need to be more commonly talked about so people can find the hope, encouragement, and relief they so desperately need from grief — And so everyone can understand how to help and minister to those in grief, too.

And because grief doesn’t end on the day of the funeral — in fact, grief never completely goes away…because love never dies, grief velcroes itself to your heart. And the greater the love, the greater the grief. Grievers need hope, and to know how to travel through the treacherous roads of grief to get to the other side.

Grief typically doesn’t stay as strong as it is in the first few months or years…but it lingers and can come back full strength at the oddest times. It doesn’t have to be a thing that weighs your heart down though…it can become one of the greatest catalysts of growth you’ll ever experience.

Some grief experiences are minor, while other grief experiences are majorly debilitating. There is hope for major grief, but it takes grief recovery efforts to get to that point.

I count it a privilege to coach hurting people through that overwhelmingly tough journey.

I also talk about grief because there is a great need for grievers to share their experiences to help others who are going through grief. It is also helpful for grievers to help others who have never been through grief to better understand.

Like Pastor Rick Warren says: Who better to help someone through their grief than a person who has already walked the same thorny road?

This blog – as well as my book, YouVersion plans and other Grief Bites resources – is for anyone who has been through grief or loss…anyone who has been through a heart-shattering sleepless night…anyone who has had a broken heart…anyone who feels like their breath and life have been sucked out of them — yet they still want to live the best life they possibly can live in spite of any circumstance they face.

I hope something I write encourages someone. I hope it allows someone to obtain the hope they need to move on press forward in spite of the heartbreak they have experienced.

Notice I drew a line through “move on” because anyone who has been through deep grief knows how frustrating that phrase can be.

I say “press forward” because if you are going through intense grief, it has to be a personal choice to press forward with everything you’ve got. I am NOT suggesting forgetting about your treasured loved one(s). In fact, I am a HUGE advocate of honoring a loved one’s memory. I don’t believe in “Goodbye”; I believe in, “See you later!”…I’ll write more about this in the days to come.

By pressing forward after you have thoroughly grieved, you’ll prevent additional loss, guilt, and regrets from entering your life. If you stay still or stagnant in your grief, or ignore it, more loss develops…and then you will have so much more to deal with later on…and grief will have damaged your heart and life further than you want it to.

Don’t allow grief to choose for you how you are going to live the remainder of your life. Grief does not deserve to make that decision for you. The only thing you should allow grief to do is cleanse your heart and teach you lessons…and the lessons are certainly there.

Choose TODAY to embrace and thoroughly go through your grief so you are truly able to create the life you want to live in the years to come.

It will NOT be easy.

There is no such thing as “neatly” grieving or a one-size-fits-all-cookie-cutter-style of grieving…there are no rainbows, unicorns, or cotton candy in grief recovery. Nope, it is messy. It will most likely be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do…but one day you’ll look back and be so very grateful you worked through your grief and embraced it.

Although grief nearly permanently paralyzed my heart, I eventually decided life is too short to not live to the fullest every single day.

Life is too good to not find joy in it…especially the “little things” in life.

I realized you only get one life…and you never get time back. Redeem the time and enjoy every moment life has to offer you as much as you can…in time…when you are able to…because life (and enjoying loved ones) is the best adventure on earth. There is nothing like fully experiencing life. And there is no time to waste.

I have a motto: Life is a canvas so throw all the paint on it you can so one day you will have the ability to look at the amazing picture you created in spite of heartache and grief.

Yes, there will be dark colors on that canvas…but there can also be – with God’s grace and healing – colors of light…perfectly blended together in total depth and beauty.

The very best way to get back at grief: getting your breath back after life and grief have knocked it out of you.

It will take time and you will know when your heart is ready. It is very helpful to join a grief group and talk to a trusted and respected pastor/counselor too.

Grief bites.

It certainly does…

…but with God, we ALL have the power within us to bite back.

©2014 / 2018 by Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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

❤️For more encouragement:

🌸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 – all proceeds go back into helping the grief community): 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. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Valentine’s Day: 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.

Choosing To Make Every Day A Celebrated Day Throughout Grief

Life is made up of days.

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

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

You rarely hear people say, “Celebrated.”

Especially not in grief.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think very differently.

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

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

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

And I am much stronger.

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

A few I most treasure:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every day is a great day to be alive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A quote I’d like to encourage you with:

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

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

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

The Day My Mom Could’ve Royally Lost It

When I was in kindergarten, after my dad died, I got to spend about four hours each morning with my mom.

I’m from a large family so I especially loved this special time…particularly because no siblings were around. I sure enjoyed the close friendships my siblings and I shared…but getting my mom all to myself was the best!

I was the kiddo who all of the neighbors knew from either me picking flowers from their gardens (to surprise them with bouquets…oops!) or from me stopping by their house just to chat. I was the kiddo who ran around barefoot, loved being outdoors, singing and dancing – a very free spirit!

My free-spirited personality got me into trouble a few times while growing up.

Like the time I thought I was a chef…even though my mom had only taught me to cook one time.

On one warm day, when it was just my mom and me, we decided to go grocery shopping and then we came home to go swimming. After we swam, my mom went to get some dry clothes on so she could start lunch. I love my mama so I thought I’d surprise her by making lunch for her. After all, she was teaching me how to cook and had just showed me how to use a can opener the day before…Yikes!

By the time she had gotten out of the shower and got ready for the rest of the day, I had used majority of the items we had just bought at the store…and many of the other food items and beverages we had in the refrigerator and pantry, too.

I had gotten out the biggest bowl we owned, put every ingredient I knew my mom liked into it, and surprised my mom with a special lunch that I called, “Pig Soup.”

All in all, it was probably about $100 worth of ingredients.

I’ll stop right here and give a HUGE accolade of gratefulness to my mom for not killing me that day. Seriously.

My mom could’ve yelled at me or disciplined me…after all, she was in the midst of grief and learning how to live without my dad while raising four children…but she could see that my little five-year-old heart was just trying to surprise her by doing something especially nice to please her.

My little heart had no idea what money was, or what food waste was…I just knew how much I loved and adored my mama and wanted to make her happy. I wanted to show off my cooking skills to impress her.

So that very day, “Pig Soup” was created, and for the last few decades, my family has lovingly brought that day to my memory by teasing me about it on more than one occasion.

My mom could’ve completely (and understandably) royally lost it and crushed my heart that day, but she celebrated my creative attempt to surprise and please her instead.

Pig Soup.

My very first recipe I ever created…I was so exceptionally proud of myself. My attempt to cook and create something special was – thankfully – lovingly celebrated.

My mom had a choice to berate me or celebrate me that day. I’m glad she was careful to see the joy in my eyes instead of making those same eyes cry.

My brave mom was a trooper…she even took a bite of the Pig Soup I created just for her.

My husband and I were talking about the Pig Soup incident the other day, and he said, “I wonder what would’ve happened had your mom handled that wrong? I wonder how much that would’ve changed who you are…your creativity…your cooking…your love to do nice things for others? Would you ever have even wanted to cook again or surprise others like you love to do if your mom had yelled at you for that?”

We each have multiple opportunities in any given week to choose wisely or poorly in how we respond or react to others…especially our spouse, children, and families.

And just like my Pig Soup incident, every situation in life has the power to bring out the best – or bring out the worst – in others or within ourselves.

We all have a heart that gets written on every single day of our lives…by our loved ones…ourselves…and by everybody around us. And we write upon every precious heart we come into contact with, too.

I learned a lot that day from my mom after she unknowingly made a long-lasting impact by choosing to write mercy, love, kindness and grace onto my little heart. I learned that day how to be merciful to others, to see past mistakes, and to (most importantly) look at the intentions of a person’s heart instead of instantly reacting.

Life is about loving God and others, enjoying every moment life has to offer, challenging ourselves to become better every day, making a difference in our loved ones’ lives, and being responsible with our words and actions.

Sometimes, I miss the mark…but you “live and learn” while finetuning your talents and continually discovering, celebrating, and bettering life!

People – especially children – are such an incredible and treasured gift! It is so important to treat people as well as we possibly can.

What are we writing on our loved ones’ hearts each day? What about our clients and other people we serve?

Are we writing mercy, love, kindness, acceptance, and grace onto their hearts? Or are we scribbling harsh words that can negatively change who they are as a person?

We can’t do anything to change the past, but we can choose to be much more careful with how we treat others from this day forward.

Positive … or negative.

Loving … or unkind.

Edifying … or wasteful.

Peaceful … or chaotic.

Accepting … or rejecting.

Celebrating … or berating.

Encouraging … or disheartening.

Constructive … or destructive.

Uplifting … or degrading.

The memories we create, the words we “write” on people’s hearts, and the legacy we leave is our choice!

Let’s make them royally grand!

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships

: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

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

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

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

Relief From Grief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I chose to get up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a true suckfest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

Never.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never refuse anyone kindness and basic respect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never be ashamed of tears. Tears cleanse your soul.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🌷

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 – for years – was never the same…and believe me, I really tried…for over a decade.

During those tough years, I 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 had never been a Thanksgiving I hadn’t gotten sick or felt major anxiety for years…until God revealed to my heart a major breakthrough for my holiday grief.

As I pieced together the reasons for my anxiety each Thanksgiving (other than the obvious), I sought God in deep prayer. The last Thanksgiving morning my sister 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.

My body remembered the 4am time – and that whole morning – which created major anxiety every year…which created the perfect storm for becoming anxious and ill each Thanksgiving from 4am-10am — the time of being up at the hospital, the code blues, and her death.

After seeking God, He lovingly reminded me that I’m putting too much on myself…and to give all of my tough emotions and anxiety to Him.

I had no control over making it to the hospital on time.

I had no control over my sister’s death.

I couldn’t have saved her no matter how hard I tried.

Although she died young, it was simply God’s timing for her to go Home to Him.

My sister wouldn’t choose to come back to earth…she’s beyond blissful and happy – in absolute perfection, joy, and paradise – with her Savior.

As I shared my heart with God about how difficult Thanksgiving is…He gave me an idea: put all of my Christmas decorations up by November 1, so I can just go straight into the Christmas season.

It is also a great time with God, since I share the last moments of each day during November and December by the Christmas tree talking with Him about my day each evening.

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 solution 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 still don’t like Thanksgiving.

But I can choose to be grateful for it each year.

I no longer allow Thanksgiving to hurt my heart…I, instead, reflect on my sister’s life and I choose to be so very grateful for the time I was blessed to have her here on earth.

Through giving my heartache, grief, and pain to God, He has been so very faithful to heal my heart.

I will always love and miss my sister…she was so beautiful and amazing I will never forget her…but God has truly helped me through my hardest years.

And I look forward to remembering her each year in a beautiful way instead of a sad way.

I remember the very first year that I actually looked forward to Thanksgiving.

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 – especially from all the years I tried so desperately to run away from the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

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

I encourage grievers to feel what they need to feel. Take your heartache to God.

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.

Even after you heal, realize all of the feelings of grief can still hit.

The yo-yo of grief is no joke.

I truly hope this blog post helps someone to know they’re not alone in their grief…to be gentle with their heart…to know that grief won’t always be so horribly strong.

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.

🎄❤️🎄

Healing From Pet Loss ~ Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

Boy, was I wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disclaimer: Like I said in my first post about pet loss, I know by writing about pet loss, I run the risk of a non-pet lover rolling their eyes (I used to do the same, so no worries)…and I also may be criticized by those who are experiencing human loss. I’d like to assure my Grief Bites readers that I am not saying pet loss is worse than losing a human being. To some, it may be worse; to others it may not be. Each and every grief experience is unique and completely different – no two people will go through or experience grief in the exact same way. Whether it is a human being or a pet, this is an absolute truth every griever can agree on: The greater the investment, the greater the love — and the greater the love, the greater the grief. I sincerely hope this series on pet loss is a great comfort to anyone who is mourning – or who will be mourning – their much-loved pet, and it is my prayer these posts are not offensive to anyone in the grief community.❤️As with any grief experience, I look at it as an opportunity to share what I’m learning through my experiences, in hopes it can help encourage whoever needs it. I count it a privilege to help others through all grief and loss issues. 

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

How To Help & Encourage Someone Through Pet Loss~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude, healing, & many blessings,
🐾❤️Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

🐾❤️For more encouragement:

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

🐾❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): 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 & Travel

Travel is easily one of my favorite topics. 

Growing up, my parents made travel and traveling experiences a priority for our family. We took many weekend trips and weeklong vacations to several destinations. My husband’s parents also did the same as he grew up.

My husband and I appreciated the travel opportunities and experiences our parents blessed us with, so we also have made travel a priority for our family.

Some of our favorite places to travel for the weekend or for a week long trip have been Disney World (Florida), Disneyland (California), Ireland, Tennessee (Smokey Mountains/Gatlinburg), Texas, Destin, New York City, Costa Rica, and other places.

Each place we have been holds many great memories, but Disney World has always held great value in our hearts since it is the last place we vacationed with my sister right before she died. Two months before my sister passed away, my parents, my sister and her family, my other sister, and my family and I all went to Disney World in Florida. 

After my sister’s death, we have taken my sister’s children to Disney World in honor and memory of their mother since she loved and adored Disney World and all things Disney.

I actually vacationed at Disney with my parents, sister, and my niece (my sister’s oldest daughter) and my niece’s sweet family just this year. My own family elected to stay home due to work and school commitments, but it was nice to have time with my niece and her family, and my parents and sister. 

I’m a big advocate of travel, whether it’s learning opportunities while traveling or relaxing or fun vacations. There’s just something special about getting away with loved ones as you leave the world and your cares behind while creating special life-long memories.

Vacations can be:

  • Weekend trips
  • Extended weekend trips
  • Road trips
  • Week long getaways 
  • Cruises 
  • Camping
  • Staycations at home
  • Any amount of time, at any destination 

The primary objective is to clear your schedule so you can focus on God, family, friends, relaxation, learning and fun!

I’m also a big advocate for taking vacations to honor and remember a lost loved one. We have had many special times and made great memories in doing so. 

One special lady in my grief group recently lost her much treasured adult child. She and her husband have decided to travel to places they know their child would have enjoyed traveling to in their child’s memory and honor. At each location, they are sprinkling some of their precious child’s ashes. How amazing and beautiful is that? 

What places do you enjoy traveling to? Which destinations have you always wanted to travel to? Do you have a Bucket List of places you’d like to travel? What cultures would you most like to experience?

If you would like to travel to places in memory or honor of a treasured loved one, what places were dear to your loved one’s heart? Where would they have most liked to traveled?

The first year after my sister’s death when we traveled back to Disney, it was emotionally tough. I’m really glad our family chose to continue to go to Disney World though. What started out as a vacation to remember and honor my sister, ended up transitioning into new experiences and great opportunities for our family to grow closer and create NEW memories.

Travel is amazing and something my family and I love to enjoy and do! 

I will be sharing about creating a travel budget in a new blog post soon. I’ve never paid full price for any vacation I have been on except for one. If you love travel, or are interested in travel, you’ll definitely want to check back soon!

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim 

❤️If you were encouraged by this post or found it helpful, please feel free to share it to encourage and help 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

😊

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.

    🎄❤️🎄

    Conflict Resolution (Pt 3)- 75 Character Qualities That Can Change Your Life

    “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” ~Helen Keller

    Grief, conflict, hardships, struggles, and suffering are opportune times to develop personal character because through each of these circumstances, character is revealed…and tested…the most.

    The key to changing every aspect of  life…including conflict resolution…is developing solid character because character and success go hand in hand. 

    Show me a person who has solid character and I’ll show you someone who handles grief circumstances and conflict wisely, as well as marriage, parenting, career, and relationship issues.

    The amount of character one develops in life directly influences how much success they will enjoy…in their spiritual walk, personal life, marriage, family, finances, relationships, career—basically everything!

    A lack of character is quite costly because character is a derivative of the heart…and the heart is the single greatest indicator of what we will choose to do with EVERY area of our lives.

     

    Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

     

    Why is character so vitally important? Because character affects ourselves and everyone we come into contact with. Character is singlehandedly the greatest impact a person can have in this world.

     

    The following character list is great to go by when:

    • developing personal character
    • going through grief or hardships
    • experiencing conflict
    • looking for a dating/marriage partner
    • training your children
    • interviewing a potential staff member
    • living life

    Whatever conflict you are experiencing right now, consider which character trait has been violated. After discovering which trait has not been honored, you then will be free to begin developing the character trait to bring about restoration.

    Ask God to reveal to your heart how to best develop each character trait below. As you read each character trait, ask yourself how you can effectively develop each trait so it can truly become a part of your regular day-to-day life.

     

    75 Character Qualities That Can Change Your Life
    1. Alertness vs. Unawareness– Being aware of that which is taking place around me so I can have the right response to it (Mark 14:38)

    2. Attentiveness vs. Unconcern Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided attention to his words and emotions (Hebrews 2:1)

    3. Availability vs. Self-centeredness– Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of God and those I am serving (Philippians 2:20–21)

    4. Boldness vs. Fearfulness– Confidence that what I have to say or do is true and right and just in the sight of God (Acts 4:29)

    5. Cautiousness vs. Rashness– Knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions (Proverbs 19:2)

    6. Communication vs. Lacking Communication– Willingly, kindly, and clearly communicating my thoughts, ideas, concerns, and needs with others while allowing them to clearly communicate their needs, ideas, concerns, and thoughts as well (Ephesians 4:25-29)

    7. Compassion vs. Indifference (I John 3:17)- Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others.

    8. Community vs. Isolation– Treating my family the very best I possibly can (realizing God specifically placed them in my life) and also seeking out a great church and wise friends to “do life” with (Hebrews 10:24-25)

    9. Contentment vs. Covetousness Realizing that God has provided everything I need for my present happiness, and not comparing myself or my life to others (I Timothy 6:8)

    10. Cooperation vs. Rebellion Doing my part to harmoniously respect, obey, and cooperate with God,  as well as all the authority figures, law enforcement, and people (spouse, parents, elders, family, employers, church) God has placed in my life, and wisely choosing not to rebel against scripture or legitimate guidelines, laws, rules, and boundaries (Hebrews 13:17, Romans 13:1-5, Ephesians 6:1-3)

    11. Courage vs. Cowardice– Choosing to face any obstacle in life with courage so as not to run away from hardships or responsibilities (Philippians 4:13)

    12. Courtesy vs. Rudeness Extending respect, kindness, and courtesy to everyone I come into contact with–regardless of their behavior (Ephesians 4:32)

    13. Creativity vs. Underachievement/Dullness Approaching a need, a task, an idea from a new perspective (Romans 12:2)  and considering all of the creative ways to implement a bright outcome

    14. Decisiveness vs. Double-mindedness- The ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the will and ways of God (James 1:5)

    15. Dedication vs. Wavering Establishing a razor sharp focus and dedication in my relationships with God and others, as well as my life purpose, for God’s glory (Colossians 3:17)

    16. Deference vs. Rudeness- Limiting my own personal freedom in order to not offend the tastes of those whom God has called me to serve (Romans 14:21) and showing proper respect and honor to others above my own selfish interests or inclinations

    17. Dependability vs. Inconsistency– Fulfilling what I consented to do even if it means unexpected sacrifice (Psalm 15:4)

    18. Determination vs. Faintheartedness– Purposing to accomplish God’s goals in God’s time regardless of the opposition (II Timothy 4:7–8)

    19. Diligence vs. Slothfulness Visualizing each task as a special assignment from the Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it (Colossians 3:23)

    20. Discernment vs. Judgment– The God-given ability to understand why things happen (I Samuel 16:7)

    21. Discretion vs. Simplemindedness The ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes which could result in undesirable consequences (Proverbs 22:3)

    22. Empathy vs. Hard-heartedness/Aloofness Taking the time to genuinely care about others and see things from their perspective by choosing to put myself in their “shoes” and truly taking the time to see how my words and actions could possibly affect them (Colossians 3:12, Romans 12:15)

    23. Endurance vs. Giving up The inward strength to withstand stress to accomplish God’s best (Galatians 6:9)

    24. Enthusiasm/Excellence vs. Apathy– Expressing with my soul the joy of my spirit (I Thessalonians 5:16,19) and seeking to live my life and use all of my talents to the best of my ability

    25. Faith vs. Presumption- Visualizing what God intends to do in a given situation and acting in harmony with it (Hebrews 11:1)

    26. Faithfulness vs. Unfaithfulness- Being, and remaining, committed to the people and responsibilities God has entrusted to me and refusing to cheat God, them, or myself out of God’s best (Proverbs 3:3, Luke 16:10)

    27. Flexibility vs. Resistance- Not setting my affections on ideas or plans which could be changed by God or others (Colossians 3:2)

    28.Forgiveness vs. Bitterness/Rejection– Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and allowing God to love them through me (Ephesians 4:32)

    29. Generosity/Hospitality vs. Stinginess Realizing that all I have belongs to God and using it for His purposes (II Corinthians 9:6)

    30. Gentleness vs. Harshness Showing personal care and concern in meeting the need of others (I Thessalonians 2:7)

    31. Gratefulness vs. Unthankfulness– Making known to God and others in what ways they have benefited my life (I Corinthians 4:7)

    32. Honesty vs. LyingCommitting to live a life of truth by being honest with God, myself, and others, and resisting the temptation to tell outright lies, white lies, or partial truths (1 Peter 3:10, Colossians 3:9)

    33. Honor vs. Dishonor- Choosing to live a life of honor by being honorable in all of my thoughts, actions, words, and deeds, and highly honoring those God has placed in my life–especially family (Psalm 1, Colossians 3:17)

    34. Hospitality vs. Loneliness Cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spiritual refreshment with family and friends (Hebrews 13:2)

    35. Humility vs. Pride Recognizing that it is actually God and others who are responsible for the achievements in my life (James 4:6)

    36. Humor/Fun vs. Coldness- Choosing to see the goodness, enjoyment, fun, and humor life has to offer with those God has placed in my life in spite of circumstances (Psalm 27:13, Ecclesiastes 3:1-22)

    37. Initiative vs. Unresponsiveness– Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it (Romans 12:21)

    38. Integrity vs. Lack of character- Choosing to live a life of character even when it becomes difficult, realizing that who I am in private reveals my true integrity (Psalm 18:25, Psalm 119:1, Proverbs 2:6-8)

    39. Joyfulness vs. Self-pity– The spontaneous enthusiasm of my spirit when my soul is in fellowship with the Lord (Psalm 16:11)

    40. Justice vs. Fairness– Keeping myself “in check” and committing to living out personal responsibility to God’s unchanging laws (Micah 6:8)

    41. Kindness vs. Harshness– Choosing to be kind in all I do, and maintaining a soft kind heart to others, as well as refusing to be harsh or hardhearted (Luke 6:31, Colossians 3:12-14)

    42. Knowledge vs. SimplemindednessMaking the decision to be in awe of God and better myself every single day by learning as much as I can so as to avoid living an unwise simpleminded life (Proverbs 18:15, Proverbs 1:7)

    43. Leadership vs. Wavering– Using my leadership wisely by investing in and encouraging those underneath my leadership in every way I can to ensure their success (Titus 1:7-14)

    44. Love vs. Selfishness Choosing to love God, and my family and friends extravagantly, and giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive personal reward (I Corinthians 13:3)

    45. Loyalty vs. Unfaithfulness Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and to those whom He has called me to serve (John 15:13) and being loyal to my family and friends

    46. Meekness vs. Anger– Yielding my personal rights and expectations to God (Psalm 62:5) and using anger as a signal to warn me of possible self-centeredness

    47. Mercy vs. Judgment Choosing to be the mercy and compassion to others today that I would want to receive myself tomorrow (Luke 6:36, Matthew 5:7)

    48. Obedience vs. Willfulness Freedom to be creative under the protection of divinely appointed authority (II Corinthians 10:5) as well as going out of my way to respect authority

    49. Orderliness vs. Disorganization– Preparing myself and my surroundings so I will achieve the greatest efficiency (I Corinthians 14:40)

    50. Patience vs. Restlessness– Accepting a difficult situation from God without giving Him a deadline to remove it (Romans 5:3–4)

    51. Peace vs. Contention/Disharmony– Choosing to honor God by being a peacemaker and creating harmony in difficult relationships and situations (II Timothy 2:24)

    52. Persuasiveness vs. Contentiousness– Guiding vital truths around another’s mental roadblocks without being offensive or disrespectful (II Timothy 2:24)

    53. Punctuality vs. Tardiness Showing high esteem for other people and their time (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

    54. Purpose vs. Lack of Focus- Finding out and fulfilling my life purpose, as well as the purpose for any project I am serving on with others, so as to bring ultimate glory to God in my life (Isaiah 43:7, Psalm 139:13-16, Philippians 2:1-4)

    55. Purity of Motives vs. Manipulation– Resisting the urge to manipulate people or situations by continually allowing God to purify and refine my heart and motives to be inline with God’s Word and His Will (Zechariah 13:9, Ephesians 5:26)

    56. Resilience vs. Quitting/Cowardice- Developing tenacity and refusing to quit while going through trials or hardships and purposefully seeking out God’s heart so that He can refresh and lift me up in His timing…and realizing God has the power to work everything together for the good of every situation (Joshua 1:9, Romans 8:28)

    57. Resourcefulness vs. Wastefulness Wise use of that which others would normally overlook or discard (Luke 16:10)

    58. Responsibility vs. Unreliability– Knowing and doing what both God and others are expecting from me (Romans 14:12)

    59. Restoration vs. Incompleteness– Taking upon myself the responsibility to seek out restoration with God, others, and circumstances when I have been offensive or hurtful to others…and while initiating restoration, allowing God to restore me (Jeremiah 17:14, 2 Chronicles 7:14)

    60. Reverence vs. Disrespect– Awareness of how God is working through the people and events in my life to produce the character of Christ in me (Proverbs 23:17–18)

    61. Safety vs. Neglectfulness– Taking the time to do my responsibilities the right way and ensuring the safety of others as well as myself (Colossians 3:23)

    62. Security vs. Anxiety– Structuring my life around that which is eternal and cannot be destroyed or taken away (John 6:27)

    63. Self-Control vs. Self-indulgence Instant obedience to the initial promptings of God’s Spirit as well as obeying God’s Word (Galatians 5:24–25)

    64. Sensitivity vs. Callousness– Exercising my senses so I can perceive the true spirit and emotions of those around me (Romans 12:15)

    65. Servant’s Heart vs. Taking– Looking for ways to serve God, my family, and others (above myself) so that I can fully invest in them, make a positive impact, and benefit their life (Matthew 23:11, 1 Timothy 5:8, Philippians 2:1-11)

    66. Sincerity vs. Hypocrisy/Insincerity Eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives (I Peter 1:22)

    67. Teamwork vs. Isolated Independence- Choosing to do what is truly best for everybody involved—whether it is at home, church or work—instead of focusing on my own goals, agenda, or myself (Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Peter 4:10, 1 Corinthians 12)

    68. Thoroughness vs. Incompleteness– Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if neglected (Proverbs 18:15)

    69. Thriftiness vs. Extravagance– Not allowing myself or others to spend that which is not necessary (Luke 16:11)

    70. Tolerance vs. Prejudice Acceptance of others as unique expressions of specific character qualities in varying degrees of maturity (Philippians 2:2)

    71. Truthfulness vs. Deception– Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts (Ephesians 4:25)

    72. Understanding vs. Lack of Knowledge- Choosing to “seek to understand” people and situations through God’s perspective by searching God’s Word for answers so that I can effectively develop godly knowledge and an understanding heart towards others (2 Timothy 3:16, Proverbs 4:7)

    73. Virtue vs. Impurity The moral excellence and purity of spirit that radiate from my life as I obey God’s Word (II Peter 1:3)

    74. Vision vs. Apathy– The ability to visualize and realize a vision without becoming apathetic while ultimately helping to accomplish God’s plans and purpose (Philippians 3:14)

    75. Wisdom vs. Foolishness/Natural Inclinations Seeing and responding to life’s situations from God’s frame of reference (Proverbs 9:10)

     

    The greater the character, the greater the favor one will enjoy in life.

    Make all your ways pleasing to God and He will make your paths straight. 

    Proverbs 3:5-6, “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” (AMP)

    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim

    ©2014 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

     
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    ⭐️⭐️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.

     

     

    For more information on building character, you may wish to check out these resources:

    http://www.characterfirst.com/qualities

    *Character Qualities: 49 are through IBLP, 26 are my own creation

    Click to access characterqualities.pdf