Tag Archive | how to help a grieving friend

The Calendars & Clocks Of Grief

Anyone who has experienced a major grief event can tell you the very second their entire world stopped and fell apart.

The calendar date, time, and all of the memories surrounding the worst day of a griever’s life becomes forever etched onto their heart.

Time takes on a new meaning to someone who is going through grief. Each griever can tell you that the dynamic of “time” permanently changes.

Before grief, you kind of take time for granted…it’s just years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds on a calendar or clock. These times go from a linear line of time from past, present, into the future.

When you go through grief, the calendar and clock dramatically changes. No longer living a linear line of past, present, into the future, the calendar and clock become a messy, squiggly line that swirls and dips into the past, present, future — all over the place.

You think about the past and desperately long for your treasured loved one…you try to remain in the present for your remaining loved ones…and you can truly dread the future because with each step, it’s more steps – and memories – away from your loved one who is no longer here.

Whenever I think about time during grief, and my heart is hurting, I use it as a signal to spend time with God. In all of grief’s timing, this has helped me more than anything. I also appreciate family, friends, and others who transparently share or blog about their grief experiences.

Today, I read a blog post about death anniversaries that resonated with me and brought tears to my eyes. As I read this particular blog post, my heart hurt so deeply for the Chapman family. While reading Mary Beth’s blog post, I Hate May, my heart deeply empathized with and hurt for Mary Beth. My heart hurts badly for anyone who has experienced the loss of a much treasured child or family member.

As I continued to read Mary Beth’s blog post, it reminded me of the deep heartaches and struggles I’ve seen my mom go through since my sister died.

It brought back a lot of memories…

The look on my mom’s face after my sister’s doctor told our family that she didn’t make it through the Code Blue…the times my mom’s grief was so devastating that she could barely talk through her tears…the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and special events that felt hollow since my sister couldn’t be there to celebrate with us…the vacations our family wish she could’ve been a part of…the times my sister’s favorite songs have played on the radio or at a restaurant, and the bittersweetness these moments offer.

The time our family went on a cruise to try to outsmart the anniversary date of my sister’s death. Since you lose track of days and times on a cruise ship, we thought it’d be a great idea. I asked my mom to go on a coffee date on the cruise ship (on my sister’s actual death date) and she said yes. Smiling only moments before we got our drinks, I looked over at my mom and her head was laid down into her arms crying. She said one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard her say about time…”Kim, today is a significant anniversary. Melody has now been gone longer than she was with us. She’s been dead longer than she lived.”

The struggles a parent and all grievers go through after the loss of a child or loved one is awful…and calendars and clocks after grief are exceptionally cruel.

Sure, you look back and the memories are not all sad. You remember all of the amazing days and times you spent together. The good memories help you through the pain.

I’m blessed to have a treasure trove of memories…Like the time my sister and I were at the beach and she hid a real lobster in my bed to surprise me…the many times we baked cookies together…the sleepovers while growing up…the times we snuck out of bed and stayed up all night playing video games in the Summer…the time she took up for me and (very out of character of her) punched a girl at school for calling me a name…the time our parents went shopping and we opened every Christmas present – the week before Christmas – and we rewrapped each gift so we wouldn’t get in trouble…the times we went to her favorite Mexican restaurant and had the best time talking and spending time together…the magical sound of her playing the piano and seeing the pride on her face after winning each piano competition…seeing her absolute joy on her wedding day…watching her be in total bliss as she became a mom and enjoyed – and totally adored – her daughters…and all of the fun we had with her on our very last vacation just two months before she died.

Calendar dates, anniversaries, and time can be extremely painful after a loved one dies.

Very.

And time is a very funny thing (not in a “haha” way, but a peculiarly unique way).

You eventually have good days…and some are really, really good…but every griever understands that the smallest memory or trigger can deeply pierce your heart, bring on a floodgate of tears, and make you wish you had just one more minute with your loved one again.

You always hear people say about time, “Time is money,” and “Time heals all wounds,” but grievers understand the true price of time…The price of love and time is grief.

I really, truly hate how unfair it all is.

I’ve talked with so many who believe that there should be a timeline for grief…a beginning and ending. I don’t see that as a reality. Just like time, grief is interwoven into our lives.

Instead of pressuring grievers to “get over it”…how about we continually help them get through it? Instead of placing a very unfair timeline onto their heart, how about we welcome the truth that it is totally okay and acceptable to forever love and remember their treasured loved one. As long as love is present, so is grief. And understanding that grieving doesn’t just take time…it is thoroughly a permanent part of time.

Through each calendar year, every grief anniversary, and each moment in time, I pray God will comfort each griever’s heart like never before.

The ability to live life again is possible…it truly does take time though. Second by second…minute by minute…hour by hour…day by day…week by week…year by year…moment by moment.💕

If you’d like to read the great blog post by Mary Beth Chapman I mentioned earlier, here’s the link. It is very good! https://www.marybethchapman.com/blog/2018/5/1/i-hate-may

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

❤️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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Grief Bites

I previously posted this a few years ago, but thought it’d be a good repost since I am often asked how we came up with the name “Grief Bites” for our ministry. Hope this helps someone!

“Grief Bites.”

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

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

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

Little did I realize how such a little sentence would transform my grief.

That one random phone call, one question, and those two little words – God would eventually develop it into 2 published grief books, a local grief organization, a national grief ministry that would encourage and give hope to people through multiple church campuses, an international blog that serves grief communities in 143 countries, as well as five Bible Reading Plans on YouVersion that offer encouragement to millions of people.

The morning my sister called me, I was in the middle of experiencing a lot of grief. I was sick of grief – and to be honest, I was sick of life.

In the 3 years leading up to that phone call:

  • my son had been diagnosed with tumors and went through several consultations and surgeries in hospitals in two different states
  • 3 of my son’s friends died
  • my grandmother died in a freak accident a few days before Christmas
  • 2 family members died on the same day
  • my marriage crumbled almost to the point of divorce
  • I had a cancer scare that required 2 surgeries
  • my sister’s fiancé died suddenly (this was her 2nd fiancé to pass away..her 1st fiancé died a few weeks before our other sister’s death)
  • we lost our entire lifelong savings due to a then trusted person’s decisions
  • many key relationships I dearly loved deeply changed (grief can do that)
  • my son’s father suddenly died
  • I was diagnosed with a lifelong serious autoimmune illness due to stress

I felt incredibly defeated and depressed.

To go through several deaths, my son’s illness, my illness, heartbreaking marriage issues, relationship losses and changes, among other losses within three short years was very challenging…but I knew I wanted good to come out of it. I wasn’t about to allow life or grief to defeat me, and I wasn’t going to sit down and remain a depressed mess. I had already done that when my sister died and that wasn’t going to be my reality again.

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

While growing up:

  • my dad was killed
  • my favorite grandmother (who lived with us after my dad’s death) died a few years later while having a routine surgery
  • I lost my grandparents (and 2 uncles and an aunt) to cancer
  • a traumatic event happened when I was 12 years old, and as a result, I was hospitalized in ICU where I almost died
  • my high school boyfriend died in a car accident over Christmas break
  • one of my good friends died
  • a best friend died from suicide
  • a friend from my bible study group died from suicide
  • my sister’s fiancé died (who was also one of my best friends)
  • I saw my 22 year old sister die after only being sick for 3 weeks

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

BUT 2010 was different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The reason I share my grief is not to solicit sympathy or pity…absolutely not. It was through everything I went through in the past that made me who I am today. Grief has taught me incredibly powerful lessons that I never could have ever hoped to learn any other way. I’m a much better spouse, mom, family member, friend, and church member due to my grief. It is also through my grief experiences that I found my purpose in life: I get the privilege of helping so many people through their grief so they are able to live better lives.

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

So why blog about it? Why talk about grief? Because grief has a huge need to be more commonly talked about so people can find the hope, encouragement, and relief they so desperately need from grief. And so everyone can understand how to help and minister to those in grief, too. And because grief doesn’t end on the day of the funeral — in fact, grief never goes away. Unfortunately, grief velcroes itself to your heart. It’s. there. for. life. And the greater the love, the greater the grief. Grief typically doesn’t stay as strong as it is in the first few years…but it lingers and can come back full strength at the oddest times.

Some grief experiences are minor, while other grief experiences are majorly debilitating. There is hope for major grief, but it takes a lot of self work and grief recovery to get to that point.

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

Who better to help someone through their grief than a person who has already walked the same thorny road?

This blog is for anyone who has been through grief or loss…anyone who has been through a heart-shattering sleepless night…anyone who has had a broken heart yet still wants to live the best life they possibly can live in spite of any circumstance they face.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will NOT be easy.

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

Although grief nearly permanently paralyzed my heart, I eventually decided life is too short to not live to the fullest every single day. Life is too good to not find joy in it…especially the “little things” in life. I realized you only get one life…and you never get time back. Redeem the time and enjoy every moment life has to offer you as much as you can — in time…when you are able to.

I have a motto: Life is a canvas so throw all the paint on it you can so one day you will have the ability to look at the amazing picture you created in spite of heartache and grief. This is the very best way to get back at grief: getting your breath back after life and grief have knocked it out of you.

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

Grief bites. It certainly does…but we ALL have the power within us to bite back.

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

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

❤️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

❤️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

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

7 TIPS FOR HELPING A GRIEVING LOVED ONE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

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

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

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

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

Choose to be a BLESSING!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a very blessed and meaningful holiday season!

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim 🦃🎄❤️🎄🦃

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

⭐️FREE YouVersion reading plan:

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

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

When Mother’s Day Hurts…

Mother’s Day: a day filled with warm memories, joy, flowers, Hallmark cards, and celebrating moms everywhere, right?

Unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone.

There are many who will enter Mother’s Day with a heavy heart of grief, confusion, lost hopes, disappointment, intense sadness, and regrets:

  • some have experienced the death of their beloved mother
  • some moms are desperately missing their much treasured child who died
  • some have experienced a miscarriage or stillborn birth
  • some have never had the ability to have children
  • some have regretted having an abortion
  • some have placed their child up for adoption
  • some have a very tumultuous relationship with their mom; some moms have a broken relationship with their child(ren)
  • some adult children allow their spouse to keep them away from their mom; some moms allow their spouse to interfere in their relationship with their children
  • some realize that this is the last Mother’s Day they’ll have with their mom or child due to age or illness
  • some mothers have written their child off; some children have written their mother out of their life
  • some moms will not get to spend time with their child(ren) due to custody issues
  • some moms will not see their child due to military duty, travel for work, or they don’t live close by; some children will be missing their moms due to deployment, work duties, or location
  • some were adopted or raised by an aunt, grandmother, family member, or friend and are missing their mother deeply due to death, circumstances, or location
  • some have mothers or children who are incarcerated
  • some have mothers who have alzheimer’s or dementia who do not remember their children
  • some are stepmoms with stepchildren who are less than kind and vice versa
  • some moms feel rejected, uncared about, or unloved…some won’t even be acknowledged or appreciated

There are many heartbreaking situations and reasons why this Mother’s Day will be less than ideal and very heartbreaking for so many people.

Life, and holidays, can be excruciatingly unfair and painful. It can be difficult to see others who still have their moms with them…those who have all their children…those who were blessed enough to become a mom…or to see happy families when you are in devastating heartache and pain.

Here are some tips of how to show compassion to all who are discouraged, hurting, or dreading Mother’s Day:

  1. Show compassion and concern. Ask how they are doing, tell them you are thinking about them, and ask what you can do to make their day better.
  2. Realize how hard the day will be for them and go out of your way to make them feel special. Ask if they’d like to go out for brunch. Send or give them a card, buy them a special gift, ask to make them dinner or ask if they’d mind if you had dinner delivered to them, or buy them some beautiful flowers.
  3. Invite them to a movie, out to dinner, or out for coffee. Let them freely talk about whatever they’d like to talk about…without judgment and without unsolicited advice. Sometimes, it helps to have somebody genuinely care who will compassionately listen. Ask them to share something special about their mom or their child(ren).
  4. Acknowledge their loss and heartache. Mention their loved one by name and tell them what their loved one meant to you. You won’t be hurting them by bringing up their name…trust me, their loved one will be on their heart and mind all day.
  5. If you have a vacation home or extra timeshare points, offer to give them the gift of a weekend getaway.
  6. If you know of someone who is hurting, invite them to church and/or invite them to spend the day with you. Include them in all your plans for the day or a portion of the day.
  7. Think of a special way to remember your family members and friends’ moms, child(ren), or loved one. Light a candle in their mom or child’s honor, or help to decorate their loved one’s grave with flowers or items you know they would’ve liked. Do something you know they would’ve loved.
  8. Love them! They do not need a lecture on how they should feel or what they should do — and they definitely do not need to be told to “move on,” or “get over it.” They need people in their life who allow them the beautiful freedom to miss and deeply mourn the treasured person they are grieving, missing, and deeply love.
  9. If someone you know has a difficult relationship with their mom or child, reach out to them. Tell them you’re thinking about them by calling them, making them a gift basket, giving them a card, or by inviting them to do something that gets their mind off of their struggles.
  10. If you know of a military mom, send her a care basket. Be sure to send letters from her kiddos and photos, too. If able, set up a time to FaceTime or Skype as well. If there is a mom whose husband is deployed, consider doing something sweet for her too!

What if you are the one who is hurting? Here are some creative ideas of how to get through the day:

  1. Pamper yourself. Clear your schedule and remove any uncomfortable expectations others may place on you. Take a day off and do whatever makes you feel calm, relaxed, happy, or peaceful.
  2. Take some time to look at photos or home videos of your mom, child, or loved one. As you look at each one, remember the special bond and incredible memories you shared together.
  3. Take the day to journal or make a special scrapbook of your loved one and all the wonderful memories you shared together.
  4. Write a letter to your mom, child, or loved one and share what’s on your heart and mind.
  5. Spend the day doing what you normally would’ve done if your loved one was here…or go to a place that was special to the two of you. Know that your loved one loves you so very much, they want you to experience love, encouragement and comfort.
  6. Celebrate your loved one or honor your loved one’s memory by having a “garden day.” Plant a tree or some special flowers in their memory and create a beautiful space where you can go in days to come to celebrate or remember your loved one. You could also make a pathway out of memory stones or buy a special bench, hammock, or chair to enjoy in their memory.
  7. Have a relaxing movie day by either going to a movie or ordering take-out and renting movies that will make you feel closer to your loved one. Don’t forget yours & their favorite movie snacks and a comfy blanket.
  8. Invite others who are missing their mom or child to do something fun or meaningful. It truly helps to be around others who “get it.”
  9. Have a day of “writing & learning”: writing letters of gratitude to those who have had a positive impact on your life..it could be a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, child, family member, pastor, schoolteacher, friend, etc. If you have children, or nieces and nephews, be sure to share the warm memories and stories with them and teach them what was taught to you.
  10. Consider spending the day doing a relaxing hobby and including others in your day. I had a teacher who took a special interest in me by teaching me how to make pies, and I also was taught to bake by my mom and sister. I really enjoyed investing in this hobby and teaching my younger family members how to bake, too.
  11. Attend a church service with family or friends…or go by yourself and have a “God day” where you spend the entire day with just God and you. Go to a park and have a picnic lunch, lay in a hammock while listening to music, read your Bible and pray. Pray for everybody in your life. Share with God everything that is on your heart. “God days” are very refreshing and can set you up for a much better week!
  12. Last, but not least, make Mother’s Day whatever you would like for it to be. You may feel comfortable doing the usual familiar traditions that have been passed down to you…you may wish to spend and enjoy the day with your remaining loved ones…or you may want to create brand new memories, traditions, and experiences. Go out of town, take a day trip, and/or do something relaxing or special. Surround yourself with love. Pour into others. Encourage others who are hurting. There are many ways you can choose to celebrate or remember your treasured mother, precious child, or loved one, and many ways to remember or celebrate the day.

God loves you and cares about every intricate detail of your heart and life. He wants to help you pick up the pieces of your shattered life and help you to rebuild it. It may not be the exact life we signed up for or wanted, but God can help us realize that life is still an adventure worth highly valuing. Take the time you need to create a “new normal”…it takes time and it is totally okay to break down or be disappointed as you press forward. Learn new things each and every day. Learn from past mistakes and always look for better ways to live life. Look for and secure the support you need from family and friends…tell them what you need. Feel what you need to feel.

To experience the death of a mother or child is excruciating. Be kind to your heart and do whatever you have to do to get through the day.

To every mom, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, aunt, sister, niece, and woman in the world, I wish you a wonderfully beautiful, relaxing, and highly blessed Mother’s Day! Thank you for all of the ways you make (and have made) the world a wonderful and better place! You are so incredibly valuable, special, and unique and life wouldn’t be the same to your loved ones had they not had you in their lives! Pamper yourself this weekend—you deserve it!

Wishing everybody an incredibly peaceful, blessed, comfortable, and memorable Mother’s Day! Allow yourself the freedom to do whatever brings you comfort and makes your heart smile!

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/

💐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

💕

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.

❤️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&nbsp;

❤️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&nbsp;

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

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

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