Tag Archive | hope for the holidays

Grief & Holidays ~ helpful tip #1

(This was originally published on this blog (Grief Bites) a few years ago. I’m just reposting it since it’s the holidays)

Throughout the Christmas season, I’ll be offering encouraging tips on how to get through the holidays during times of grief.

After going through multiple family deaths on or around holidays, the holidays became a very painful and challenging time. As I share what my family and I have learned through the process of creating special, enjoyable, and meaningful 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 very challenging to get through…but there truly is hope.

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

My first holiday tip is:

Grieve how you need to grieve and be kind to yourself. 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 normal,” or the freedom to do holidays differently for a season as well. Creating new normals doesn’t make anything (or return anything back to) normal. I like to think of and compare “creating new normals” to an inflated inter tube…it doesn’t make anything immediately better, but it will keep a griever from completely drowning.

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

• 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…even anxiety or depressed feelings

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

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

It is very painful navigating through the holidays when going through the loss 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, or other painful losses.

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

Explain to family and friends that the holidays are going to be tough on you and lovingly ask them for their help, support, 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.

Communication is key! Talk about it with your loved ones, to avoid hurt feelings or conflict. Some compromise may also be needed when choosing what to do (and not do) during the holidays. 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 just a little…or beginning some 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 special, meaningful holiday during times of grief.

If you have family and friends who love you, support you, and encourage you, what an amazing gift that truly is! Be sure to thank them for any way they bring encouragement, meaning, and love to your life!

I am praying for everyone who is going through a sad or tough time to have a meaningful holiday season – and I truly hope everyone is surrounded by understanding and caring family and friends who will encourage you this month.

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.

The first few years are the absolute hardest, but through genuinely remembering and honoring your treasured deceased loved ones, honoring your grief situation, showing love to your remaining loved ones, and working through your grief, holidays can hold great joy again…in time!

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): softcover and hardcopy – http://www.barnesandnoble.com or for $3.19 eBook – https://www.christianbook.com

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief
ible.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

🎄❤️🎄

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The Yo-Yo of Grief & Holidays

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

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

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

The harsh emotional turmoil.

The guilt.

The regrets.

The crazy emotions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the yo-yo is apparently still strong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!For more encouragement: ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

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

❤️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 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🎄❤️🎄

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;