Tag Archive | hope for the holidays

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. And you’re not guaranteed the consequences will be easy or immediate…sometimes they’ll show up years later – even affecting future generations.

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 at this holiday season, be sure to never foolishly put yourself in a bad situation or an unwise place where it will end up starting, tempting, or 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 hear a helpful message about CR from Rick Warren here: 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 exercise, relax, self reflect, and making time for self enrichment are all 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 good 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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⭐️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 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Think of an activity your loved one enjoyed doing while they were alive, and then give that experience as a gift to someone else. 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?

7. Consider attending church in their honor.

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 or verbally share wonderful or funny stories about their parent, you could buy them a gift you think their parent might’ve bought for them, or take them out for dinner.

Just because our loved 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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grief & Holidays—helpful tip #5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): https://m.barnesandnoble.com/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

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

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

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

My First Christmas In Heaven

❤️🎄MY FIRST CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN🎄❤️

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below,  

With tiny lights, like Heaven’s stars, reflecting on the snow

The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear. 

For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs, that people hold so dear,

But the sounds of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring, 

For it is beyond description, to hear the angels sing.

I can’t tell you of the splendor, Or the peace here in this place.

Can you just imagine Christmas, with our Savior face to face?

I’ll ask Him to light and comfort your spirit. As I tell Him of your love.

So then pray for one another, As you lift your eyes above.

Please let your heart be joyful, and allow your spirit to sing.

For I’m spending Christmas in Heaven, and I’m walking with the King.

I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart. 

But I am not so far away, We really aren’t apart.

So be happy for me, dear ones, You know I hold you dear. 

And be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift, from my heavenly home above. 

I sent you each a memory of my undying love.

After all, love is a gift more precious than pure gold. 

It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other, just as my Father said to do. 

For I can’t count the blessings or the love He has for each of you.

So have a Merry Christmas and please wipe away that tear,

Remember, I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year!

~Author Unknown

Praying everyone has a Christmas season filled with love, comfort, encouragement, and HOPE!

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

❤️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): https://after-life-knocks-it-out-m.barnesandnoble.com/w/getting-your-breath-back-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

5. 🎄🎄🎄New Grief Bites YouVersion Reading Plan, Experiencing The Holidays With Jesus: Christmas, will be available November 29, 2018

⭐️©2018 Grief Bites. All rights reserved. All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

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

Grief & Holidays—helpful tip #3

Today’s tip: It is totally okay to remember and honor your treasured loved one.

After losing a loved one, so many questions come to mind…

  • How am I going to make it through this holiday season without my loved one?”
  • “Is it okay to remember my loved one or talk about them during the holidays?”
  • “How do I go about remembering and honoring my loved one throughout Thanksgiving and Christmas?

There’s nothing more painful or challenging about the holidays than to lose a treasured loved one, no longer having them with you (or experience devastating loss), and yet try to salvage the holiday season by creating a meaningful Christmas.

The memories from Christmases past were some of the best memories a griever has experienced in life, but now the realization of a loved one not having the ability to enjoy the holidays is so painful to deal with.

It can be a balancing act for a griever to authentically grieve and remember their deceased treasured loved one(s), while also creating meaningful memories with their remaining loved ones—it’s a balance all grievers will need to decide and create for themselves and their family.

Grief is such a personal experience. Each griever should feel free to grieve in a way that is comfortable to them. It takes time to create and navigate a new life…and this includes holidays, too.

Be kind to yourself and those closest to you, and do what you (and your family) need to do to get through the holidays. You may feel like doing a little, a lot, or not much at all.

If you feel like remembering and honoring your treasured loved ones, then absolutely do! You loved them so much while they were with you…and your love is still great for them today! Never apologize, or feel bad, for remembering or honoring those you love…deceased or living!

Ask God to guide and direct you throughout your grief, to comfort you, and to give you fresh ideas of how to create a meaningful holiday season as you create your new balance.

Here are 10 ideas for remembering & honoring your cherished loved one this holiday season:

  1. Think of your loved one’s favorite holiday tradition and then do that special tradition in their honor. You may even choose to invite your loved one’s closest family members and friends to do this special tradition with you.
  2. Light a memory candle in honor of your loved one. You can share with others what your special candle signifies, or you can tuck the special meaning privately in your heart.
  3. Place a treasured photo in a special picture frame and place it out for all to see.
  4. Do an activity (if you feel ready and comfortable) that you and your loved one specifically enjoyed doing together. My sister and I loved baking together, so throughout the years, I have hosted a “cookie party” and baked in her memory. I pass out the treats to family, good friends, and those who I know need encouragement.
  5. If certain Christmas songs remind you of your loved one, make a playlist of those songs and listen to them when you miss your loved one most. The first few years after my sister died, it was very painful to hear certain songs – especially Feliz Navidad which was her favorite. Now when it comes on, I take it as a loving reminder of how important my sister was to me…I think of it as my sister’s way of saying, “hello” from Heaven and a way of God allowing my sister to be a special part of my holidays.
  6. Share and exchange past special holiday memories of your loved one with understanding family members and close friends. Be sure to share funny stories, too!
  7. Make a scrapbook, including important mementos, special stories, and treasured photos of your loved one. Write an annual Christmas note to your loved one and tuck it somewhere safe inside the scrapbook. Anytime you miss them, take out the scrapbook and look at it.
  8. Donate a special gift, participate in Angel Tree, or volunteer your time or make a donation to your loved one’s favorite charity, in your loved one’s name and honor. If you do Angel Tree, try to find an angel that has the same birthday as your loved one.
  9. Watch old home videos or enjoy special photos of your loved one. These truly can eventually be a source of great comfort.
  10. Light the Christmas tree, turn out the lights, play some soft Christmas music, get some hot chocolate, and have a special time with God, pouring your heart out to Him. Talk to God about your treasured loved one, your remaining loved ones, your hurts, concerns, and cares, and everything else that is on your heart and mind.

Holidays can be a very challenging and sad time after the death of a loved one (or while going through loss or life challenges). I hope these 10 ideas are a source of comfort, help, and encouragement to you this holiday season.

Praying all who are hurting will find genuine compassion, support, love, and encouragement this holiday season!

Gratitude and 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 (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 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 

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

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

5. Experiencing The Holidays With Jesus: Christmas (available Nov 29, 2018)

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

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

Grief & Holidays—helpful tip #1

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

After going through the grief experiences of my sister’s sudden death on Thanksgiving, my sister’s fiancé’s death and funeral on Halloween, my grandmother and boyfriend’s deaths on Christmas break, my other grandmother’s death during Valentine’s Day festivities, and my other sister’s fiancé passing away on Easter, the holidays became a painful and challenging time. As I share what my family and I learned through the process of creating special, enjoyable, and meaningful holidays again – in spite of grief – I hope all will be encouraged!

My first holiday tip is:

Grieve how you need to grieve and be kind to yourself. Do not put on yourself the extra pressure to have 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.

When going through grief, holidays can seem to 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
  • 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, a divorce, miscarriage, financial loss, family/marital/stepfamily conflict, illness, 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 all of you to have a meaningful holiday season, and truly hope you are surrounded by understanding and caring family and friends who will encourage you this month and next.

It can take time to find a new holiday normal, so please don’t be hard on yourself. It takes time 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 & 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): 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: www.griefbites.com

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:
🎄1.
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

❤️🎄