Tag Archive | hope for the holidays

7 TIPS FOR HELPING A GRIEVING LOVED ONE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

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

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

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

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

Choose to be a BLESSING!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Simply listen and be there. Sometimes, the best thing someone can do for a griever is to give them a hug with the gift of silence and a listening ear, and simply let them know someone truly cares. No words necessary…just be truly, genuinely caring and be a good listener. We all desperately want to say the magic words that will comfort loved ones in grief, but there simply are no words that can magically remove their heartache and pain. A trustworthy listening ear is more important than most people realize.

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

Have a very blessed and meaningful holiday season!

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim 🦃🎄❤️🎄🦃

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

❤️For more encouragement:
⭐️ <u
p://peacewithgod.net

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

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

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

⭐️FREE YouVersion reading plan:

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

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The 10 Thieves of Christmas 

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

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

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

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

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

Just like when the Grinch attempts to steal Christmas from The Whos – and all seems lost, miracles can still become a reality and life lessons can be learned through the toughest grief experiences we each face.

Are you battling a thief of Christmas today? Is something, a life event, or someone sucking all of your joy and peace out of you this Christmas season? 

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

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

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

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

4. Addictions
Addictions are a killer around the holidays. If you are someone who struggles with sobriety or you’ve chosen to make healthier life choices, temptations are EVERYWHERE. If you’re battling alcohol, food/overeating, overspending, etc, you have to be so very careful to maintain your sobriety and health. Perhaps your family still has alcohol around because they “have always done things this way,” you’ll need to ensure your healthful choices by pre-planning how you’ll address potential situations and temptations. Preparation and having a solid plan at all times goes a long way! Addictions demand that you give up so much for so little…it literally is like borrowing $5 but having to pay back $5,000. Don’t give up months or years of discipline and hard work for one day or one week of the year. It just isn’t worth it!

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

6. Financial Difficulties –
I wish everybody had a money tree in their backyard, especially during the holidays. How cool would that be? Unfortunately, not everyone is consistently blessed in the area of finances. Finances can bring upon tons of stress and be limiting. If people allow it to, finances can create conflict in marriages and families, wreck havoc on health, and cause tension. The only good things about financial challenges are the creativity you can develop through hard times, the drive to create a better life, and realizing that what truly matters in life is definitely not “things.” Don’t feel pressured into buying things you can’t afford or taking up slack you genuinely aren’t able to. Do your very best and ask God to meet your needs. It also helps to appreciate the simplicity of Christmas and the peacefulness of the season with your loved ones. The only thing that truly matters is Christ and loved ones. Everything else is just a bonus.

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

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

9. Guilt & Regrets –

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

10. Stress
There are three types of people during the  holidays: those who are completely refreshed and relaxed…those who are completely stressed out…and those who are a combination of the two. Try not to stress too much these next few days. Take on only what you feel comfortable doing. It’s not a sin to say no to a request if you genuinely don’t have the time or energy to do something. Take time to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of the season: time with God, family, friends, and your church family…attending Christmas services at church…Christmas music…a good Christmas movie…hot cocoa…Christmas lights. Stop to reflect on all of the blessings you’ve received from God and others this year. Take a deep breath and realize that it’s truly okay to relax!

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude and many blessings,
🎄Kim

©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

🎄FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

7 TIPS FOR HELPING A GRIEVING LOVED ONE DURING THE HOLIDAYS 

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

The holidays are very hectic for most people, but they become extra challenging for those going through grief. When family and friends offer kindness and encouragement, it can make all the difference in the world to those who are hurting.

Whether the person who is grieving is a family member, friend, acquaintance, or neighbor, you have the AMAZING opportunity to offer compassion, support, and HOPE this Christmas season. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Invite your grieving loved one to a holiday movie, out for coffee, to a Christmas church service, or to go shopping with you. When someone is going through grief, they lose contact with the outside world as they are immersed in their pain. Many times, people do not know what to say to a griever so they avoid seeing someone in grief. Please let them know you care. An invitation will speak volumes of your concern for them.

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

7. Simply listen and be there. Sometimes, the best thing someone can do for a griever is to give them a hug with the gift of silence and a listening ear, and simply let them know someone truly cares. No words necessary…just truly, genuinely caring and being a good listener. We all desperately want to say the magic words that will comfort loved ones in grief, but there simply are no words that can magically remove their heartache and pain. A trustworthy listening ear is more important than most people realize.

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

Have a very blessed and meaningful Christmas season!

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim 🎄❤️🎄

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

💛For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

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

Grief & (Post)Holidays—helpful tip #10

Christmas has now come and gone.

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

Something I wish someone would’ve told me about the days following a holiday is that some tough emotions can follow along with it. Today’s holiday tip? Be prepared for the depression, anxiety, and other intense emotions that can follow Christmas, holidays, anniversaries, and other big life events…and come up with a plan for relaxation during those times.

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

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

Depending on how big the aftermath and crash of feelings was, the feelings that accompany big events can take you by surprise and even be alarming. 

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

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

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

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

I hope everybody had a special, meaningful, and blessed Christmas.

Never give up HOPE! Even if things aren’t ideal or good right now, better days are ahead of you! 

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

💛For more encouragement:

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

Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

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

FREE YouVersion reading plans:


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

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

Grief & Holidays—helpful tip #9

Situations of grief can bring you to—and leave you—in a bad place mentally, spiritually, and emotionally if you don’t carefully guard your heart. And the holidays can bring major temptations when going through grief or loss.

Life happens, and sometimes, it’s just seriously unfair. 

Since life doesn’t offer an instruction book on grief, many are ill equipped to know what to do with their tough emotions and can then be vulnerable to making poor decisions.

Grief is highly emotional…and illogical. When going through grief or life challenges, you can become desperate to feel better. So, choices made while going through grief can be illogical, too.

Today’s holiday tip: Guard your spirit, heart, thoughts and emotions, and be very careful not to succumb to addictions or to self-medicating your pain.

Addictions come in many forms. The most common addictions are alcohol, drugs, prescription drugs, staying constantly busy so as to not think about your grief as much, accruing massive debt due to over shopping or gambling, extreme dieting or fitness, adultery/sexual addictions, or overeating. There are many other addictions, but these are probably the most common.

Addictions have a way of making you feel temporarily better, yet they always make you pay a much higher price (through consequences) than you’d ever want to pay. It’s like borrowing $5 but then having to pay back $50,000.

Addictions and self-medicating will leave you with guilt, regrets, additional brokenness, and compounded grief. They will also prove to be extremely costly and damaging to your family, relationships, and finances.

So how do you feel better?

It’s probably not what you want to hear, but it is absolute truth: embrace your grief, learn every life lesson you can from it, and grow through it.

There just are no good detours to getting through grief. You can’t go around it, over it, under it, or fast forward through it…you have to go through it in grief’s timing.

When my son was little, one of his favorite games was Candy Land. He always hated landing on the spot that had the ladder that slid him right back to the very beginning of the game. That’s exactly what addictions will do…slide you right back down a ladder that makes you start all over in your grief again. It’s far better to go through your grief and avoid any further loss. 

Wherever you are this month, be sure to never foolishly put yourself in a bad situation or an unwise place where you know it will end up feeding your addiction. Surround yourself with good people and only go to wise places where you know you can truly guard your heart.

If you’ve already given in to addictions, consider getting help so you can overcome them. Many people in my grief group who have struggled with addictions have attended Celebrate Recovery and have reported wonderful and amazing things. Feel free to check Celebrate Recovery here: http://www.celebraterecovery.com
You can also here a helpful message here about CR from Rick Warren: http://www.celebraterecovery.com/index.php/about-us/message-from-rick-warren

Going through hurts and needing help is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, getting the encouragement and help you need takes a lot of courage.

I also believe it can be very effective to value the amazing creation God made you to be. I’m a big advocate of pursuing spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional wellness. Scheduling daily time with God and loved ones, scheduling daily time to relax, exercise, self reflect, and making time for self enrichment are very important. 

Your life is important and so very precious! Seek to make every single day of your life count and always seek ways to better yourself, grow through your grief and struggles, so you are freed up to live a great life!

May everybody enjoy a peaceful Christmas filled with love, wisdom, and encouragement!

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim 

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

💛For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

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

Grief & Holidays—helpful tip #8

Today’s post is a tough one…a topic few grievers think about until much later when great damage has been done.

I hope this post will be read with an open heart, with the hope of preventing additional grief, guilt, and regrets.

With the grief experience of losing a treasured loved one, each and every griever has fully earned the right to “check out” of living life fully. And depending on how great the loss was, it is very, very easy to isolate yourself and avoid truly living life—and avoid enjoying remaining loved ones.

Grief is excruciatingly painful, can knock your breath out of you, leave you feeling as though you are “dead yet can’t die”, and can seriously crush your entire being. I truly have a huge heart of compassion for anyone who has to walk the confusing, debilitating, lonely and incredibly painful road of grief…especially around the holidays!

Today, as I was talking to my sister and mom, though, we got on the topic of how grief can impact and wreck not just holidays, but also relationships.

I wanted both of their perspectives on some grief topics since both have experienced extensive grief: my mom has experienced the deaths of her husband, daughter, sibling, parents, and others; my sister has lost two fiancés, our dad, sister, aunt, uncles, and all grandparents. As I’m writing a new book, I cherish and respect their input.

I’ve had two major mother influences in my life…my mom and my grandmother. Both experienced the death of a child – a loss I wish nobody would ever have to experience.

Holidays at my mom’s house and holidays at my grandmother’s home were polar opposite experiences. 

Growing up, my grandmother was rarely present. Don’t get me wrong, she was a genuinely beautiful and kind soul, was always around us, and we saw her and my grandad every holiday…but she wasn’t “present.” She never made memories with us such as attending our school functions, sporting events, or life events, or doing usual activities such as baking cookies with us, or doing usual traditions such as decorating a Christmas tree, watching movies, or exchanging presents. More importantly, she didn’t have it in her to share in holiday joy with us or fully celebrate holidays. She stayed debilitatingly stagnant in her grief to where she was never able to create a “new normal” to enjoy the good memories, remaining loved ones, and life could have offered her. 

By the way, I totally do not blame her. Grief is the worst! The death of a child is tremendously excruciating and tough to navigate through. 

…And I don’t feel bad for myself or my siblings that our grandmother wasn’t “present”…I feel badly for all she missed out on and wish I would’ve had the opportunity to know her much better and to have had the opportunity to fully enjoy life and holidays with her. She missed out on a lot, and so did our family since she (understandably) “checked out” of living life. She sadly realized this the year before she died and told me she wished she had known how to “break through her grief” and wished she “had more faith.”

Before she passed away, my grandmother eventually became an incredible advocate for the elderly and helped many families. She was finally able to become active in her church and in many nursing homes in the area to use her gift of mercy toward others.

It’s a tough situation to finally choose to use your gifts after the death of a loved one.

My mom made the decision after my sister died, to be “all in” for her grandkids while growing up.

I’ll never know how she had the strength to do so, but she’s given her family the gift of great memories throughout the years. I greatly appreciate and admire my mom for working through her grief. I know it was not easy for her.

Because of my personal experiences, I always try to encourage grievers to fully grieve…absolutely fully grieve…and to be very mindful not to unknowingly create additional or worse grief, guilt, or regrets further down the road.

And doesn’t it suck that a griever even has to think about or deal with these issues whenever they’re already going through so much and are already in excruciating pain?

It unfortunately happens all the time. Very sad, very tough, but very true.

And it isn’t just in one or two families…many are going through the heartache of grief throughout this holiday season.

I received a phone call a few months ago that genuinely broke my heart. The caller had five children and she had lost her second oldest child several years ago. She was so heartbroken over her child’s death that she retreated strongly into her grief (what mother wouldn’t?), and although she truly did not mean to hurt her husband or other children…truly, she didn’t…she explained how her husband and remaining four children had very little to do with her since they felt she basically stopped being a wife and mother to them for about seven years. They all lived in the same house at the time of the death, then each child either moved away or got married, but the remaining kids described not only losing their brother but losing their mom as well. And it was very painful for them.

The husband was at the point of filing for divorce.

As I tried my best to bring hope, reconciliation, and relief to this sweet lady and her family (at the request of this poor mom), it was very, very difficult to get everybody to understand with empathy each other’s point of view.

The mom’s intention was never to not love and celebrate her husband and kids or miss many life events, but nonetheless, the mom missed out on so much of their lives due to her anguish and grief.

And the kids, they didn’t have the capacity to fully feel empathy towards their mother because none were parents themselves. They didn’t understand the depths of her love and heartache.

The husband and kids needed much more empathy for their hurting wife/mom – and to realize you can’t just “snap out of it” while grieving someone you love and adore…and the wife/mom needed to find a way to show her family they are important to her.

I spent a lot of time helping this precious family who had been shattered by grief.

As my mom, sister, and I were talking about the topic of how to enjoy holidays once again, another situation came to mind.

My sister’s boyfriend had been in the hospital for 11 months after a tragic car accident, but our family had scheduled a family trip. She didn’t know what to choose…staying bedside of her boyfriend or go enjoy her family. It was a very tough choice for her, but she ultimately chose to go on our family vacation. It’s a very good thing she did because our oldest sister died right after we all got back from that trip.

Had my sister not found a balance in her harsh circumstances and grief…AND figured out a way to simultaneously grieve and still live, she would’ve been left with compounded and severe grief, guilt, and regrets from missing out on our very last vacation with our sister.

Today’s tip is: Please be careful not to miss out on making memories with loved ones who are still here, so you do not add further heartache, guilt or regrets to your life later on.

I personally think people should go out of their way to show extravagant grace to those who grieve, especially the first few years. Grievers NEED time to heal and absolutely NEED time and grace to figure out a new normal. It’s very challenging and tough! And if someone hasn’t been through deep grief, they just don’t fully understand. 

The greater the love, the greater the grief…and the greater amount of time it takes to heal.

At the same time, I genuinely hate to see grievers go through additional grief due to regrets of not taking the time to love and enjoy their remaining loved ones who are still present.

I’ve seen marriages fall apart, adultery take place, children distancing themselves from their parents, families becoming greatly bitter, and a myriad of other painful scenarios transpire, all due to families not upholding empathy for each other.

Each person (and family) has to find their own unique balance. And it usually is a lot of trial and error as they figure it all out together.

 It is so important to communicate, love each other, develop and show empathy for each other, and work as a team to figure it all out.

The lady who called me? I was able to help her, her husband, and her children find middle ground, empathy for each other, and some much needed restoration. (I’m thankful they gave me permission to use their story for this post to help others).

But there are many families who aren’t so lucky or blessed. Many marriages (up to 70-90% of them) and families fall apart and disintegrate due to grief. That’s why it is so incredibly vital to work together as a family to honor a deceased loved one’s life and to find how to still enjoy each other, celebrate with each other, and be genuinely present…in spite of grief attempting to rip families apart.

It’s a very unfair situation all the way around, but it is very important to cherish our remaining loved ones—and eventually fully celebrate holidays and life with them—as we walk through the storms of life together with our families.

Something my sister said shortly after our sister and her fiancé died made an impact on how I view this topic. Allow these words to powerfully speak to your heart:

Even though I am deeply grieving, the clock is still ticking, and that is why I choose to keep living…purposefully.”

Just to be clear, I am NOT undermining anybody’s pain. I am totally not suggesting that anyone should suck it up or get over their grief…because nobody, in any circumstance, should EVER feel pressure to suck it up or get over a loved one’s death. 

You can never “get over” a loved one because love lives on post-death. Grief is debilitating and horrible…and very real. It has no easy fix, it is extremely personal to each one who grieves, and depending on how great the loss was, it can be difficult to find or experience genuine joy again. Very difficult.

The remainder of this week, and especially Christmas Day, please take the time to extravagantly love and enjoy your remaining loved ones. It may be challenging due to excruciating grief and a broken, shattered heart, but I think you’ll be grateful down the road that you did. 

Your grief may be very fresh and you may not have it in you to fully do that this year…that is totally okay…just take baby steps. Eventually, the baby steps will add up and significantly prevent future heartache, guilt, or regrets.

I hope every person who is going through grief finds strength, compassion, empathy and understanding from others, and great comfort this holiday season.

May you all honor your grief and lost treasured loved ones and also find delight and joy in your remaining loved ones as you make special memories this Christmas season.

If you are frustrated by a loved one who is deeply grieving, please please please give them the gifts of mercy, compassion, love, understanding, and empathy. They’re not only doing the best they can at the moment, but they truly may be just trying to make it not only day by day…but literally minute to minute.

If you are the one who is going through deep grief, please be kind to your heart. I believe if someone has experienced a life-altering grief event, they should get a “three year pass” to figure out how to personally handle holidays in a way they comfortably can and a “lifetime pass” to honor their loved one throughout holidays. It takes time to truly be able to enjoy holidays and not just go through the motions. I pray you – and your loved ones – give you the gifts of love and patience as you figure it out.

Love each other, pray for each other, help each other, and encourage one another.

Life, remaining loved ones, and holidays are worth celebrating and enjoying in every way we can!

Gratitude, love, and many blessings,
🎄Kim

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

💛For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

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

Grief & Holidays—helpful tip #6

This week, one of my dearest friends inspired me. Dianne’s mom passed away last year from a battle with cancer and this week held the one year anniversary date of her mother’s Homegoing.

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

I hosted a special holiday coffee at my house for Dianne and a few of our “coffee” friends (we’ve been meeting together the past year to pray for each other and each other’s families) and it happened to fall on Dianne’s sweet mom’s one year anniversary death date. 

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

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

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

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

The Christmas season is now in full swing! With one week left until Christmas, we all have 7 days to remember and honor a loved one in a meaningful, special way. We also have one week before Christmas to be an extra blessing to our family, friends, and even anonymously to strangers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

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