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!
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)
- 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 and was bedridden for several months (I finally found an effective treatment so I can be fully functional)
- a family member went through a midlife crisis (God healed the marriage and now other couples are helped in saving their marriages)
I felt incredibly defeated and depressed.
To go through several deaths, my son’s illness, my illness, heartbreaking 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
- after my mom remarried, we moved twice within 9 months due to extended family conflict
- our home completely flooded the week of Christmas and we lost everything. We ended up living in a motel for several months while our home was being repaired
- my step-grandmother unfairly rejected and mistreated my mom, my siblings, and me…just because my mom was a widow with children
- I lost two grandparents, step-grandmother, two uncles, and an aunt to cancer
- I was raped, and as a result, I was hospitalized in ICU where I almost died
- my high school boyfriend died during Christmas break
- one of my friends died of cancer
- my best friend died from suicide
- a good friend was shot and killed
- a friend from my bible study group died from suicide
- my dad was laid off twice and had to live in a different city for two years
- my sister’s fiancé died (who was also one of my best friends)
- my 22 year old sister died 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 this time was different.
I didn’t want to just “get over” my grief. This time, I was desperate to get through it and 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. I count grief as one of the best things to ever happen to me. Not the grief events…goodness no...but how my grief shaped my heart and life purpose. It was through everything I went through in the past that made me who I am today. With each grief experience, it widened my ability to eventually help others. 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, grief coach, 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 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 completely goes away…because love never dies, grief velcroes itself to your heart. 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. It doesn’t have to be a thing that weighs your heart down…it can become one of the greatest catalysts of growth you’ll ever experience.
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.
Like Pastor Rick Warren says: 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 – all proceeds go back into helping the grief community): Click here for book
❤️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