Tag Archive | how to comfort a hurting friend

Christians: Are We Taking The Easy Way Out?

This weekend, I watched a movie that was very good – gut-wrenching, actually.

Movie clips of this particular movie were shown here as well https://www.life.church/watch/ during Pastor Craig Groeschel’s annual teaching of At The Movies (every year at Life.Church, they teach on a different movie each week during the month of July).

If you haven’t seen Hacksaw Ridge, you truly need to.

As I was watching one particular scene, my heart broke in excruciating pain…tears just rolled down my face.

As Life.Church showed this clip, it was used to show the importance of saving the unsaved…which is very important. My mind went beyond that to each person who has ever went through grief – especially those who felt abandoned, betrayed, or wounded by the Church. My heart immediately thought about those who nobody went to check on or those who nobody “went back” to help save them. I hear more stories than I can count of how nobody took the time to love hurting people back to life.

As a grief specialist and grief group leader, I hear the most heart wrenching stories people have experienced. For almost 10 years now, helping people for 20-50 hours each week, these stories have caused my heart to truly go out to those who hurt…stories about death of loved ones, grief over wrong personal decisions or a loved one’s hurtful decisions, adultery, abuse, military grief, PTSD, abandonment, extreme hurt and conflict in families and churches, church abuse, suffering, heavy guilt and regrets, illnesses, addictions…I literally hear every story that has wounded a human heart.

Before a person comes to me for help, many times, they’ve already sought out help from church leaders, family members, and friends. The hardest – and most taboo – situations of grief (suicide/suicide attempts, the after effects of rape or murder, all situations of abuse, death of a child or young person, church/spiritual abuse, etc.) are the most challenging to help.

Something that has happened time and time again, and has been said numerous times, is this:

“I went to my pastor (or fellow church staff or church member) for help, and they never got back to me…I felt I wasn’t important.”

Or worse….

“My pastor, church staff, and/or fellow Christians knew about my situation…and they ignored me. They never even called to see how I was after I reached out for help.”

Watching Hacksaw Ridge, when the main character is courageously sacrificing himself and bravely doing everything in his power to save as many as he can…and pleads, “Lord, help me get (save) one more”…my heart sank.

Just like a physical war, when someone goes through heartache, grief, or pain and they are wounded, if someone does not go and help them…the alternative is to leave them for the enemy to devour. This is beyond true spiritually, too. When a Christian is wounded, and the Church doesn’t take the time to care, the enemy is more than happy to delightfully devour them, too.

Watching that scene of Hacksaw Ridge, all I could think of were the several people I know who have quit going to church, and the ones who have turned to atheism – or even other religions – because they went through a harsh life challenge and felt like nobody cared.

We as Christians have got to demand higher of ourselves. 

Yes, everybody is busy. 

Yes, it may not be someone’s specific responsibility because, after all, they did not cause the pain. 

Yes, it is totally time-consuming. 

Yes, it truly is messy.

And there will always be people in the church or on staff who will make excuses by saying things like, “hurting people hurt people”…”we won’t help others who aren’t taking responsibility by taking the first steps to help themselves”….”nobody is perfect.”

But, the example of Jesus Christ is to deny yourself and pick up your cross…and part of picking up your cross is to actively love people back to life – especially those who are unsaved or those who have been hurt or who have left the church.

And it’s not just church members who have been hurt by the church. There are many who are (or who were) on church staff (or their spouses/families) who have been deeply wounded by either fellow church staff members or members of their congregations, too.

Jude‬ ‭1:22-23‬, “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.”

  1. Hurting people do not hurt people. Hurting people help heal people because they understand what being hurt feels like. Jerks hurt people and then refuse to make it right.
  2. The attitude of “I’ll help people once they help themselves…” is very flawed. I am so very thankful that God doesn’t treat people that way. He loves…He gives grace…He initiates healing…He lifts us up and carries our burdens for us.
  3. The argument of “Nobody is perfect…” fails what God commands in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Of course, nobody is perfect, but God certainly gives us some very sobering and serious responsibilities as believers on how to treat others – especially reconciling with those we hurt or those who may have something against us. He even instructs us in Matthew 5:23-24 to leave our gifts at the altar until we actively go make things right with those we have hurt or offended…and says to not come back until this is done first.

God doesn’t give us these responsibilities of how to treat others – or how not to treat others – to be difficult; He gives us these precious responsibilities so we will be careful with each other’s heart and spirit. He understands the potential terrible cost if we are not careful with His instructions.

I heard the most profound statement this week from a young person who had been deeply wounded and wronged by their church:

“People always knock certain shady TV evangelists, but all they do is steal money. What about the pastors at churches who hurt people in their congregations? They steal peoples emotions and spirit. Money is readily replaceable…trust is not.”

To hear someone young be so wounded and jaded by the Church really concerned my heart. Hearing their story…and then hearing how the leaders at their church knew about the hurt they inflicted — yet didn’t show good character by going to them and working things out…there just are no words. 

Satan loves taking people out. The enemy knows if he can get Christians or church leadership to wound someone, the likelihood of additional generations being spiritually destroyed will ensue:

Proverbs‬ ‭27:23-24,Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.”‬ ‭

When someone is deeply wounded, it doesn’t just affect the individual who was hurt. It affects everyone they’ll ever come in contact with…and future generations.

•You may be reading this, and you may be one who has been deeply wounded. On behalf of every Christian, I apologize profusely to you for your pain. You should never have been left alone in your time of hurt, somebody should have cared enough to reach out to you and loved you back to life. Please, please, please know that God wanted for you to be treated with love, kindness and respect…it’s not His fault – or His Will – when people disobey scripture by mistreating others or not helping them. I humbly ask you to please forgive the Church. God loves you and has not forgotten you!

Isaiah‬ ‭40:27-31‬,Why would you ever complain, O Jacob or Israel, saying, “GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. Butthose who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

Isaiah‬ ‭49:15-16‬, “Can a woman forget her nursing child? Will she have no compassion on the child from her womb? Although mothers may forget, I will not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. Your walls are always in My presence.”

•You may be reading this right now and you know for a fact you’ve wounded a fellow believer, but you never made it right. I strongly plead with you to go to that person (or persons) and courageously apologize for your wrongdoing…Most importantly, for them. Secondarily, for the judgment that can fall onto you:

Matthew‬ ‭5:23-24, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”‬ 

Colossians 3:25, “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”

Proverbs‬ ‭17:13, “Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good.” ‭

•You may be reading this right now and you personally know of someone who was wounded by another believer. If you know of someone who is wounded, please consider being the one to make a difference. 

Matthew‬ ‭25:40, 45‬, ““The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.’…and…“He will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.’” 

 I don’t think most people drop the ball purposely, but it does happen unfortunately. An apology, or genuinely caring for others from the heart, goes a long way.

My heart is for the hurting, the grief stricken, and those who have been spiritually wounded. I know of many Christians who this is so very important to their heart, too.

Majority of the Christians I know are really amazing people who genuinely care about others. They actively love people and truly enjoy serving others. When others hurt, they genuinely hurt for them, too!

We all (totally including myself) need to do better and become more mindful of others.

When we’re tempted not to make things right with those who we have hurt or offended…or we are tempted to leave it up to someone else to do our part…or we believe the lie that we are too busy or things are too awkward or messy to get involved…I really pray that we each will consider how we can make these situations better for everyone we know.

I know I can do better.

The rest of this year, let us prayerfully consider reaching out to those who used to attend our churches or those who were once in our LifeGroups, Sunday School class, or Small Groups – those who we never see anymore. I pray we consider the people we know who quit going to church because they were hurt, deeply offended, or wounded. 

Consider calling one person a week to check on them to see how they’re doing and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them. May we each choose to love people back to life.

As a Christian, we never want to be known as someone who took the easy way out… Especially since Christ never did.

Be the example of Jesus to others that you would hope someone will be to you and your family.

Jesus’ example is very, very clear:

Luke‬ ‭15:4-7‬, ““Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

I love how God used sheep in this passage of scripture. I don’t believe it’s coincidental that the above scripture and the following verses deal with sheep and lions. Think about this:

1 Samuel‬ ‭17:34-36‬, “David replied to Saul, “I am a shepherd for my father’s sheep. Whenever a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and rescued the sheep from its mouth. If it attacked me, I took hold of its mane, struck it, and killed it. I have killed lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them because he has challenged the army of the living God.””

1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

The above verses speak of sheep and lions. Just as David vigilantly looked out for his earthly father’s sheep, how much more should we as Christians look out for, and help and defend, our Heavenly Father’s sheep? The enemy’s goal is to challenge and hurt God. If we don’t actively care for those in the Church…yes, even those who have left it…then we are part of the problem.

When people waver in their faith or leave the church, or when we know of people who are hurting or who have been deeply wounded, or when there are leaders (or church members) in the church who have hurt people and not made it right – yet no one corrects them or holds them accountable – we really need to start addressing that in our churches. When no one seems to care during these situations, we must ask God to soften our hearts and also for wisdom to know how to effectively reach out to those who have been wounded.

We have got to stop taking the easy way out…..we have got to expect more of ourselves and do better.

If a family member of ours stopped attending family functions and quit communications, would we simply shrug our shoulders and have an apathetic attitude of, “oh well?” Would we merely accept it and just move on? Would we think that it wasn’t our problem or responsibility? Absolutely not! We would call them and we would fight for that precious family member and our relationship with them. 

God considers Church family relationships to be of utmost importance…they’re a reflection of His relationship to us, His Bride. That is something we all need to deeply consider.

The only response a Christian should have to those who are struggling is this: Snatch them from the flames…help and encourage them…be the best version of “Jesus” to them…meet needs wherever possible…and love them back to life!

We have got to do a better job of focusing on helping people in their spiritual walk, being deeply concerned with their eternal destination, as well as care about peoples hearts, their hurts, and what truly matters.

Galatians 6:1-2, ““Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

John‬ ‭13:34-35‬, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Never discount a person’s hurt…or their potential. There are some people in life who have been deeply wounded, but they will blossom greatly when the right people genuinely take the time to care about them. There may be weeds, but please understand that underneath the hurt and weeds is good soil. All they need is for someone to take the time to rinse the mud off of their heart, and water them with compassion, so the Sonshine can work miracles.

Luke 10:2….“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

Tell God you’re willing to be a worker for Him in building people back to life. Ask God to grant you the gift of seeing people how He sees people, and to love people how He loves people. Ask God to impress on your heart, and every believer’s heart, to deeply care about saving both the lost and the hurting.

I’ll always be grateful to the people in my life who had a deep burden for the harvest. They saw an ugly, dying weed, but decided to care about me and love me back to life.💕

Please take a moment and soberly watch this video and listen to this song. Then pray and ask God to show you who you can love back to life. We each need to make a strong commitment as Christians to stop taking the easy way out.❤️

Movie clip from Hacksaw Ridge: https://youtu.be/Oy6kwogmhRY

Song by Keith Green: https://youtu.be/8yJd0JMzq7k


Who can you love back to life today?

If you have been hurt or wounded by the church, I highly recommend Saddleback Church in California. If you don’t live in California, they offer online services, too. Life.Church also offers online experiences.

http://www.saddleback.com

http://www.life.church

You are so very valuable and loved!

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

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Healing From Pet Loss ~ Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

Boy, was I wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Help & Encourage Someone Through Pet Loss~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude, healing, & many blessings,
🐾❤️Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

🐾❤️For more encouragement:

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

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

The Day Time Stood Still…Timing Through Grief

Anyone who has experienced grief can tell you the split instance that their life was forever changed.
To some, it felt as though time stood still. To others, it felt as though they had their breath knocked out of them.

Time is tricky in circumstances of grief…and most new grievers have a few serious questions regarding time:
“When will my grief end…when will I feel better…will I ever have the ability to feel better as time goes by?”

Sadly, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer for these questions.

I will tell you that grief has a unique timetable that is individualized. 2 people can go through the exact same grief experience and grieve differently.
Grief has to run its course.

Once one thoroughly grieves, life can be better…and one will have the ability to feel better.

After experiencing a major grief experience, I remember feeling as though grief had torn my heart out of me and was holding my heart hostage.
It seemed like I couldn’t feel better no matter what I tried to do to. I had to thoroughly go through…and honor…my grief so that I could have the ability to live and truly enjoy life once again.

Here are a few things that I feel helped me tremendously through the toughest times of grief:

1. God
He is the only One available 24/7 to listen, help, and offer encouragement and comfort. I never would have found hope or joy again had it not been for Him. Reading God’s Word is an amazing source of encouragement, inspiration, and comfort…especially the book of Psalms.

2. Family & Friends
I am so very grateful for the people who have been there for me during times of grief. Having people offer encouragement, love, and compassion is such a gift.

3. Community
Going to church, a grief group, community events, and other resources is an incredible source of genuine and practical help.

4. Gratefulness
Every morning and every night, something that I found helpful was to think of 5 people and 5 things about life that I was truly grateful for. This forced me to think outside of my grief and developed a deep gratitude in my heart for the people, things, and blessings still in my life.

5. Wellness/Recreation
I originally had to force myself to exercise, eat right, and go out to do activities I once enjoyed…but as I continued to be committed to these things, they eventually brought me much joy. They helped to alleviate stress and intense sadness.

These 5 things helped me so much as I navigated through the tough days of grief.

As grief hits, it truly feels as though the world & time stands still…but the fact is, time keeps moving and doesn’t wait for us.

So what can a griever do?

Be kind to yourself during grief. Honor your grief and be true to your personal grief experience.

I’ll tell you that life has a powerful ability to get much much better.
There were a few grief experiences that I was sure I’d never feel better…I truly felt that my breath had been knocked out of me…but I eventually found joy again.

I think many grievers think that we have 2 choices:
1. Grieve and be sad
2. Be happy and love life and enjoy it

I am a firm believer that it doesn’t have to be either or.

I had to develop my personal conviction that every day is a true gift. It’s up to me to unwrap it. Sure, I could choose to leave the gift of life unopened and ignore it…but it IS there every day to open and appreciate it…regardless of what I am going through. Every single day is valuable.

We never get any given day back. If we choose to not open the gift and celebrate life…and all the good remaining in life…we truly add more loss to our life in the long run.

So anytime I go through grief, I choose to honor my grief and to grieve thoroughly. I also choose to redeem the time since I understand that time is not a respecter of me.

Choose today to love and enjoy your loved ones…to set a goal or two and take baby steps to meet your goals…to think of 5 people & 5 things that you are truly grateful for every morning & night.

Time stinks when going through grief. It truly does. And it takes effort to redeem the time…but valuing time is a hidden treasure that helps so much throughout grief.

How can you choose to unwrap the gift of life from this day forward?

After the funeral-10 TIPS ON HOW TO HELP THE BEREAVED & what NOT to say

Having a grief ministry, I talk to several grievers every week. So many grievers I talk to are beyond frustrated with their family, friends, and fellow church members after experiencing grief.

They each share a common story…“After the funeral, nobody seemed to care. I’m drowning in my grief and everybody is going on living their lives.”…”I feel as though I am letting people down”…”If I hear one more cliche, I’m going to scream”…

I think anyone who has lost a loved one wants to know that others care about them…especially those closest to them. Yet so many I talk to share with me that the people they thought would be there for them weren’t…and people they weren’t close to have really helped them out throughout their most heartbreaking times.

I wonder why that is? Is it because loved ones can’t stand to see the people they love in so much pain..so they avoid them? Is it because life is no longer fun (grievers aren’t exactly the life of the party) so they move on to other people who aren’t so laden with sadness? Do they somehow think grief is contagious?

I think most people do care. I just do not think grief is talked about enough so that people know what to say or do for their loved ones in times of grief.

I think the key is educating people. Once people know better, they can then do better to help others.

Here are 10 ideas for anyone who wants to know how to reach out to their loved ones who are going through loss:

  1. The best thing you can do is to simply say sorry and “be there”…no additional words necessary. Just show up, let them know you love them, hug them, and simply listen.
  2. Never say, “Call me if you need anything”…Dozens of people have already told them that. Grievers need you to be specific. Instead, ask, “May I go to the store for you?”..”Can I run any specific errands for you?”..”May I bring you dinner tomorrow night?”
  3. NEVER go to a griever’s home and start cleaning or cleaning out their deceased loved one’s belongings without getting permission FIRST. A good rule of thumb is for a griever to wait 1 year (if at all possible) before deciding what to do with their loved one’s things. It is very common for grievers to regret doing so before the 1 year mark…and they may silently resent others for intruding by throwing their loved one’s belongings away without discussing it with them first.
  4. Please do not avoid a griever. You’d be surprised how many people assume that other people are being there for a griever, when in reality, no one is keeping up with them or comforting them. Periodically call them or stop by to see how they are doing. Send them a card, text, or a note to let them know someone cares.
  5. Realize that everybody grieves differently. Respect their grief. Allow your loved ones the freedom to grieve however they need to grieve…It will look completely different for each person and family. As long as they are not harming God, themselves, or others, it is perfectly fine to grieve as much or as little as they feel the need to.
  6. Try to remember important dates and anniversaries and then show the grievers in your life extra support on those days…birthdays, death dates, anniversaries, holidays, etc.
  7. Don’t be afraid to mention their loved one’s name. Most grievers still like to talk about their loved one. Many feel frustrated when they feel like they can no longer talk about their loved one. It makes them feel as though people want for them pretend their loved one never existed. They still deeply love their loved one and they miss them so very much. Please allow them to talk about their loved one if they wish to.
  8. Grievers grow tired of advice and most cannot stand being told cliches…such as…“They’re in a better place” (They do not want their loved one in a better place…they want them to be here on earth with them)…“You can have more children” or “You’re young, you’ll find love again” (They do not want more children or another spouse…they are not looking to replace their loved one, they want the one they lost)…“God needed another angel” (God did not need another angel. He is surrounded by them in Heaven. Grievers also do not need another reminder to be frustrated with God)…“I know how you feel” (Nobody knows how a griever feels because everybody grieves differently. I actually had a lady tell me that she had lost her spouse and her neighbor came over and said she knew how the lady felt because she recently lost her dog. People say the craziest and most insensitive things to grievers)…“You’ll see them again” (Grievers realize that but it does absolutely nothing to comfort them because they want to see their loved one right now)…“Look for all the good in your life…develop a grateful heart…yadi yadi yada” (This is helpful for some…but to others it isn’t helpful at all. A griever will most likely eventually see all the remaining good in their life but they need to process their grief FIRST. They just lost an incredibly precious person in their life. They are not in a position to see anything other than their intense heartache for awhile…and that is totally okay. Once they thoroughly grieve, they will grow tremendously by seeing the remaining good in their life…and grievers truly have a higher capacity to see all the good and genuinely be grateful…but it takes time)
  9. Please do not assume that all grievers want to stay at home and no longer have a social life. Many do want to stay at home because of their intense sadness and grief, but some truly want to get out of the house to do activities. Ask them if they’d like to go out for dinner, to a movie, or out shopping. They may welcome some relief from their grief.
  10. Please do not expect your loved one who is going through grief to “move on”…”be the same as they once were”…or “snap out of it”…It is NOT going to happen. The greater the love, the greater the grief. Depending on the severity of their grief and loss, they may not ever be the person you once knew them to be. They most likely are not going to move on for other peoples sake…and they should not be expected to. And there is no such thing as snapping out of grief…It has to run it’s course…and the griever is not even in control of that. A griever can press forward which is not the same as moving on…but again, that takes time and it has to be the griever’s decision. Once grief affects someone, they will be affected for the rest of their life because grief is not an event, It has no end. Grief velcroes itself around a grievers heart and unfortunately, it is with the person for life. It doesn’t mean they will never smile or laugh again…it doesn’t mean that they won’t eventually find a “new normal”…and it doesn’t mean that they are sentenced to a life of sadness or despair…but it does mean that grief stays in their heart and grief continually morphs. They are going to have both good and bad days. Be patient with them and allow them to grow throughout their grief experience at their own pace.

I hope these ideas are helpful to someone and helps someone to understand grief a little better. I totally did not mean to sound harsh if I sounded that way…Just trying to encourage people to not add more grief and frustration upon a griever.

Be there for the grievers in your life. Love them. Let them know you care.

Just showing up and listening is the greatest gift you can give to them in their greatest time of need.

If you have any input on how to help those going through grief, please feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below.

Wishing everyone encouragement, comfort, & compassion!

Gratitude & blessings,
Kim

©2014 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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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 

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❤️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