Tag Archive | individual grief

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 in 2010 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, an international grief ministry that would encourage and give hope to people through multiple church campuses, a 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 in 2010, 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 retirement savings due to a then trusted person’s foolish decisions
  • many key relationships I dearly loved deeply changed (grief can do that unfortunately)
  • my son’s father died
  • I was diagnosed with a lifelong serious autoimmune illness

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 the night before my parents wedding anniversary
  • 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 tragic event happened when I was 12 years old, and as a result, I was hospitalized in ICU where I almost died
  • my boyfriend died in a car accident when I was 15 years old
  • one of my best friends died…then a few weeks later…
  • 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


The Challenge of Unspoken or Hidden Grief

Some of the most difficult grief experiences to heal from are those that are unspoken.

The reason unspoken grief experiences are so difficult to heal from, is because of the nature of the grief – and the choice to isolate oneself.

As I was helping an anonymous young lady on an online grief forum last week, my heart sure did go out to her. She – unknown to her parents, family, church family, and friends – had gotten pregnant and miscarried her first child 8 weeks into the pregnancy. Fearing judgment, she didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone except for the father of her child. For three years, she’s walked the road of grief all on her own. 

Isolated. Heartbroken. Alone.

With unspoken grief, some grief events have happened recently, while some happened decades ago.

Some may have believed that time would heal their wounds, only to find that time hasn’t healed anything.

There are many grief experiences that are “unspoken” or “unknown”…experiences someone may not feel comfortable sharing with others:

  • Unplanned pregnancies that end in miscarriage, secret adoptions, or abortion
  • A sexual assault 
  • Medical diagnosis such as HIV
  • Mental health diagnosis 
  • Adultery
  • Family or marital issues
  • Abuse
  • Conflict with adult children or other family members
  • Addictions
  • Mistreatment of others or conflict that you never had the chance to make right
  • Church conflict/church abuse
  • Suicide issues that remaining loved ones have to go through
  • Suicide attempt survivors

There are many life challenges people go through. With unspoken grief, they’re just not at a place they feel comfortable sharing with others the tremendous heartache they’ve been through. 

Unspoken grief presents a big challenge for the person going through it: if they keep their grief concealed, they may never find the help or healing their heart needs.

So how do you heal from unspoken grief experiences?

Please realize God never intended for us to walk through grief alone. Community, as well as the many resources available, are very powerful gifts when going through heartache, challenges, and grief.

There are many confidential options for finding help and healing when going through an unspoken grief experience:

  • Seek out confidential help with a trusted pastor, grief counselor, or therapist
  • Find encouragement through a local grief group (GriefShare, The Compassionate Friends, local funeral homes who offer grief seminars, Grief Bites conferences, etc.). Many grievers do not realize their grief situations can remain completely anonymous at these meetings, conferences, and seminars. Outside of introducing yourself, you don’t even have to talk if you don’t wish.
  • Utilize online grief resources (blogs, YouVersion’s grief related reading plans, grief related Facebook pages, GriefShare daily emails, The Compassionate Friends private groups, Grief Bites blog, etc.)
  • Talk to a trusted family member or friend…keyword: trusted. When choosing who to confide in, always realize that two listening ears are also attached to a talking mouth – meaning, they can share what you confide in them, so be very selective in who you choose to trust!
  • Go to your local bookstore or favorite online bookseller and purchase books on grief. 
  • The best place to go with your broken heart is to God. He is always there 24/7, He cares deeply for you, and He has the power to heal your heart and spirit.

If you are going through an unspoken grief experience, please know there is hope. You can find relief and healing. Seek out the help you need today so your heart has the opportunity to truly and fully heal.

May God bless and encourage your heart!

Gratitude & blessings,

©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 Hope Seems Lost

When going through grief or the hardships of life, it can be easy to lose hope.

When googling a definition for hope, this came up:

1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
synonyms: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, design; More

After I saw this definition for hope, I quickly realized that the reason hope is not readily available to a griever is because the expectation and desire is for our loved one to still be with us…or for a past circumstance to not have happened…and we can’t make that happen.

As I looked at the synonyms…aspiration…desire…wish…expectation…ambition…aim…goal…plan…design, I realized hope itself can be created out of these synonyms of hope.

We can’t bring a loved one back…and in many situations in life, we may not have the ability to take back something that happened in the past…but we can all make the important life-saving decision to aspire to create a new normal.

We can create new desires for our futures. We can form new wishes and expectations, have new ambitions, aim our sights on fresh new goals, make new plans, and come up with a new design for our lives.

It’s not easy or fun…and if a griever is completely honest with themselves, it will most likely be one of the hardest things a person will ever have to do. Creating a new “normal” isn’t something any griever would willingly sign up for…but the alternative is to die a little bit more inside every. single. day. The ultimate alternative is to permanently lose hope.

So we hope for a better tomorrow…we hope someday the pain will not feel as fresh as it does today…we hope that life will once again be the joyful song we once knew it to be…and we hope that eventually hope itself will be renewed so we can truly feel hope once again on an everyday basis.

How do we regain our hope after life devastates us?

That will look different for each individual griever. Hope is something that requires self-work and renewing hope is something we must CHOOSE for ourselves.

I personally find hope in God. In grief, He is the only thing that has ever made sense…and the only One who has ever had the ability to make sense out of my grief.

As I struggle through situations I don’t understand, I ask God to show me deeper levels of His love and comfort. I ask Him to reveal a greater depth and perspective about life that will help me, or someone I know, at a future date. I do not like to feel as though life or grief is in vain or wasted, so I seek to learn life lessons through anything I go through in life…good and bad.

A few months ago, I came across Psalm 107:23-31 as I was studying about prayer. It spoke volumes to me because grief makes a soul feel as though it is drowning in the deep. As the waves of grief come crashing in, it can feel just like a horrible storm that leaves you miserable and at your wit’s end. It can make you feel as though you have no hope.

Psalm 107:23-31, “Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, Which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men!”

When we cry out to God in our heartache and troubles, He has the powerful ability to renew our hope and bring us out of our distress. He is the One who can quiet the waves we go through in life, causing the storms of life to be still, when we allow Him to guide and direct us in life.

Today, if you are struggling with God and wondering if hope will ever be a true part of your life again, I encourage you to call out to God and seek Him for His help. I encourage you to do whatever you need to do to regain your personal hope.

Hope can be renewed. It may take time, and maybe even a lot of tears, but it can happen. Life can be good again, too!

Faith and hope go hand-in-hand. When you are lacking in one, strengthen the other. Both can be built by choice.

Ask yourself, “How can I strengthen my hope or faith today?”

Diligently think of new ways to build your hope back up.

It may be hard at first…and it may take baby steps…but one step at a time, made each and every day, will eventually lead you to a new normal of experiencing HOPE.

Once one rebuilds their hope, they then have the incredible opportunity to start rebuilding their life.

Gratitude & blessings,


©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

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

FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: 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: (Coming November 4, 2015)

A Personal Authentic Grief & Life

Grief (and loss) comes in many packages:

  • Some are normal unavoidable life events: loss of a loved one who lived a full life, loss of health/abilities as you age, etc.
  • Some are the result of natural/unpreventable occurrences: illness, disease, natural disasters such as tornadoes or mudslides, etc.
  • Some are the result of another person: death of a loved one by another person’s decision, various crimes, medical negligence, abandonment or rejection, adultery, conflict, divorce, war, etc.
  • Some are the result of our deceased loved one’s personal choices: suicide, unintentional drug overdose, fatal accident such as drunk driving, etc.
  • Some are the result of our own self: losing a relationship due to choosing to mistreat or cheat on someone, disability or illness due to personal negligence of health or well-being, foolish decisions, poor financial or business decisions, family/marital conflict due to our pride, etc.

There are also different timeframes of grief and loss:

  • Some are temporary: being laid off at work, short-term illness or injury, separation, etc.
  • Some are permanent: death of a loved one, permanent disability, divorce, etc.
  • Some can be ongoing: family/marital conflict, health issues, mental illness, a family member’s rebellion or substance abuse, a rude boss that makes you hate your job

Grief and loss ALL have one thing in common: no matter the situation, each circumstance breaks the heart, and attempts to break the spirit, of the one going through grief or loss.

Each person has to take an inventory of their own grief and do what they feel is best. I personally think that as long as someone isn’t hurting other people or themselves, their grief is healthy and appropriate.

If we fail to take an inventory of our grief, we (by default) plan to become stagnant and stunted in our grief. Being stunted destroys our growth…and being stagnant causes us to become detached.

What stunts us in times of grief? Caring what other people think. Not wanting to deal with it. Turning to substances or addictions. Making sure we stay overly busy. Becoming extreme people pleasers.

But. it. is. there. Grief doesn’t magically go away.

When we deny our right to feel what we need to feel or we choose to not go through grief the way we need to individually process it, we cheapen our grief…and worse, we stunt any growth we could experience from the situation.

And there is growth a griever can experience…and there are lessons one can learn through every situation they face in life…good and bad.

Grief and loss are too personal to allow someone to tell a griever how to process their loss. EVERYBODY…and EVERY SITUATION is different.

And grief isn’t something to be put away in a closet, high up on a shelf, neatly out of sight…or putting a permanent “game face” on just to make other people more comfortable.

If a griever is ever going to find genuine relief from their grief, it has to be addressed. And grievers need to address it because it can affect so many other aspects of life: marriage, relationships, work, health, etc.

It is far better to have 6 months (or however long) of genuine, real, messy grief that you truly work through than to go through the rest of life wounded or having to wear an artificial game face.

Authentic grief is going to look different for each griever. What works for one griever may not work for another griever.

There are 7 BILLION different ways to grieve…a unique style to each griever on earth.

Make a list. Ask yourself what your convictions are. Seek to see what you truly want out of life. Ask God to reveal His purpose for your life (we ALL have a life purpose). Find any silver lining you can out of grief (not always easy…but usually can be found with hard work. Not always but usually.)

What personally works for me during times of grief is:

  1. Drawing close to God
  2. Being true to my spouse, child(ren), family, and myself
  3. Grieving how I need to grieve
  4. Choosing to be kind to everyone
  5. Taking good care of my health & wellness (grief can cause lower immune system functioning)
  6. Choosing not to neglect remaining loved ones (this can be difficult while going through grief but I have seen many people lose or damage relationships with their spouse and children which later adds to their loss and heartache. I always try to keep this in check for myself.).
  7. Being honest with God and myself (can be messy at times but I grow through it)
  8. ASKING family & friends for what I need if I need something (this prevents MANY hurt feelings or the all-too-common feeling of “nobody cares” while going through grief)
  9. Choosing to be grateful (finding 5 people and 5 things to be grateful for every morning and evening)
  10. Enjoying life (many grievers think this a weird one…but “life” is still going to happen and I can’t buy back time. Life’s “clock” doesn’t stop ticking just because I am sad or I am going through a tough event. Grief takes away so much…it’s a personal conviction of mine that life is still a gift and I’m going to unwrap that gift every single day. Grief takes enough from me…it’s not going to get my “life” too.)

Find out what “authentic grief” means to you.

Nobody wants to be permanently stuck in the vortex of grief. Use times of grief to find out who you are…and who you truly want to be.

Allow your authentic grief to teach you life lessons and allow the incredible growth from life’s events to make you a better person.

Oftentimes, it is out of the positive and negative reels of life when we fully “process,”…becoming a better person…and “develop” an authentic life.