Tag Archive | Kay Warren

Choosing To Make Every Day A Celebrated Day Throughout Grief

Life is made up of days.

Most people typically describe their day as one of the following:

  • Good
  • Bad
  • Great
  • Fantastic
  • Lovely
  • Terrible
  • Sad
  • Frustrating
  • “Fine”
  • and every other adjective known to mankind

You rarely hear people say, “Celebrated.”

Especially not in grief.

When most people think of the word celebration, they think of birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, won sporting events – all of the happy occasions.

These celebrations are easy. They’re all smiles, fun, and enjoyable circumstances. No effort needed at all.

But what about when life gets hard? Really, really hard?

Celebrating every day during grief is much more challenging – but I have found it is equally needed.

Throughout my lifetime, I have experienced an extraordinary amount of grief. I’ve been through three major waves of grief and through these waves (each wave lasting between 5-11 years of continual grief events), I’ve experienced…and learned…a lot.

The past 10 years, I have been through intense grief…30 major grief experiences – including my son’s tumors and surgeries, ten family members being diagnosed with cancer, 13 family members dying, and experiencing six close friend’s deaths, my son being greatly wounded by his church and choosing atheism as a result, my husband experiencing a midlife crisis, a family suicide, among other grief events. I’ve also been diagnosed with several autoimmune illnesses throughout this time.

There has been extreme anguish throughout this past decade. Debilitating grief and prolonged hardships are all very tough to go through.

When you initially go through intense grief, you don’t feel like celebrating. A good day is holding it together and concealing your tears so you don’t draw unwanted attention to yourself. For some who go through grief, a good day is simply mustering up the courage and energy just to get out of bed.

About half way into all of these grief events, I became concerned that I’d never feel genuine happiness again.

Thankfully, I found that happiness and joy are both a choice.

Before you discontinue reading the rest of this blog post, please keep reading on. I understand how annoying that statement sounds. Truly!

It used to majorly annoy me when people would say that happiness and joy were choices…

…until I heard a dear bereaved mother who had lost her adult son to suicide say, “Choose joy!

Before Kay Warren said those two words, I always thought people were very insensitive to say that joy and happiness were a choice. But when someone can say these words in the midst of excruciating heartache, such as Pastors Rick and Kay Warren, I’ll listen to them.

Because it’s genuine. It’s real. It’s hard-fought. It’s extremely authentic.

I have found that joy and happiness are definitely choices…choices I now intentionally choose every day of my life.

I have also found that choosing to celebrate each day is also a choice.

Before grief, the words joy and celebrate hold much different definitions. These words were easy. Blissful. Comfortable, even.

After grief, you find these two words hold brand new meaning. They’re hard-fought treasures that you had to walk through emotional hell on earth to obtain.

I can’t go back and change anything that has happened in life. I can’t change the heartache and grief I’ve experienced. I can’t bring my loved ones back to life. I can’t undiagnose illness. I can’t undo other people’s hurtful or devastating decisions that led to massive consequences.

I do have complete choice and control over my own personal decisions, though.

Although I would definitely go back in time and change some things…and I most definitely would reverse my loved ones deaths if I could…I wouldn’t give up any lesson I’ve learned through the incredible teacher of Grief.

I have learned a phenomenal amount of life lessons as I embraced my grief.

At first, I saw grief as something that ripped my heart out and was holding it hostage…but as I chose to embrace my grief, the lessons came pouring in. I didn’t embrace my grief at first – I resented it greatly. I am thankful I opened my heart to the rich lessons I have learned, though.

Deep heartache and loss attempted to define my life…I, in turn, sought to allow grief to redefine – and refine – my life instead.

Through many tears, grief allowed me to see things clearer.

I think very differently.

I feel things at a much greater level and have a much higher capacity of intuitiveness.

I have found that the experience of life is viewed, felt, and experienced at a much higher quality.

I’m different, too. Very different than who I once was.

And I am much stronger.

I absolutely do not celebrate any grief event I’ve been through…but I do celebrate the many byproducts – all hard-fought and earned – that I have gained throughout my grief.

A few I most treasure:

  • A much closer, genuine, authentic, and more intimate relationship with God
  • The strength I’ve gained through grief and hardships
  • The ability to clear away the mundane and focus on who and what truly matters in life
  • The incredible ability to love and appreciate my family at a far higher level
  • The depth that is created through hardships and grief…I am no longer comfortable being shallow in any area of life
  • The wisdom, discernment, and understanding you gain through grief
  • The ability to be grateful… genuinely grateful … for everything in life
  • The ability to be a good “read” on people very quickly and the ability to discern even the most subtle emotions of others
  • The ability to appreciate and celebrate each day – regardless of what I’m going through (this gift took years to achieve)

These are just a few of many “gifts” I have received throughout grief. They’re not gifts you’d ever expect…and nobody in their right mind would willingly sign up for grief or hardships to gain them…but they are very precious gifts, nonetheless.

Focus is key in creating a celebration mindset. What you focus on is where your heart will be…and each day, I am given an important choice: If I focus on all of my loss, I will most likely live a life of loss. If I focus on even the smallest celebrations of the day, I’ll live a life of continual, intentional celebration.

I’m not suggesting to bypass grief or that a celebration mindset will remove grief. Absolutely not! Each griever must be true to their grief and thoroughly experience it. To not do that would be to cheapen grief and dishonor loved ones. I still experience grief, sadness, and missing treasured loved ones – for sure, I just also simultaneously choose to experience joy and allow celebration into my daily life.

I have found it helpful … even lifesaving … to balance grief and celebrating the gifts God and life still have to offer.

Each “gift” leads you to the unmistakable truth that every day can be a celebrated day.

Every day is a great day to be alive.

Every day is a fantastic day that you have the exquisite and exclusive gift of being able to love, talk to, share life with, and hug your remaining loved ones. Remaining loved ones truly are an extravagant miracle if you seriously think about it.

Every day offers the new ability to learn more. Know more. Understand more. Empathize more. The more you learn, know, understand, and empathize, you are then able to do better.

Every day allows you to seek and find fresh new strength…and new ways of creating the best “new normal” you not only initially muster – but eventually enjoy.

Every day is an opportunity to enjoy God, remaining loved ones, work, nature, hobbies, adventures, and the simple things in life like working out, savoring a great cup of coffee, enjoying pets, appreciating music, and the ability to set and achieve goals.

Life, no matter what we go through, is the best adventure – an adventure not afforded … or continued … to all. I have found the best way to honor my loved ones (both the deceased and my remaining loved ones) is to honor them by celebrating life.

Just having the breath of life is an extravagant gift…and that is definitely something to celebrate every single day.

The very best days of life may not have even happened yet. On my toughest days, this is a truth I focus on.

Each day – no matter how excruciatingly tough it is – is a choice. We have the ability to squander life or create the life we want…and we make this very important choice each and every day. And this makes every day an opportunity to make the choice of making every day a celebrated day.

Will there be extremely hard days? Yes. Will there be heartbreaking days you dread, where you feel like your grief could literally consume and destroy you? Absolutely!

But with each daily decision to press forward through the pain– and truly see each celebration offered throughout each day, life can eventually be the true celebration you choose and want it to be.

It may take time…maybe even lots of time…but it is possible.

A quote I’d like to encourage you with:

“Although I am grieving, the clock is still ticking, and that’s why I keep living…purposefully.” ~Kelli Horn, grief author

How can you choose to make each day a celebrated day?❤️🎁

Gratitude & many 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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8 Things I Wish People Understood About Suicide

When a family member or close friend attempts or succeeds at suicide, the remaining and affected loved ones are left with the broken fragments of their loved one’s fragile, hurting life. They’re also left with heartache, confusion, grief, guilt, regrets, depression, sometimes anger, and many other emotions and questions.

Suicide is an issue that is very close to my heart. I’ve lost several loved ones to suicide and have had people close to me attempt and (very thankfully) not succeed.

Suicide is one of those taboo, uncomfortable topics that most do not want to talk about…but did you know that everybody at some point in their lives will be affected by it?

Here’s some startling, heart wrenching statistics:

  • 80% will contemplate suicide at some point during their lifetime
  • 50% of all students have thought about suicide 
  • 15-18% have seriously contemplated suicide with an actual plan to do so
  • 8% will actually go through with it

With statistics like these, it becomes imperative to talk about…so why are people so hesitant to do so? 

I think suicide is an extremely uncomfortable topic because everybody wants to fancifully believe they and their loved ones are exempt.

Suicide isn’t a respecter of anybody though. It tempts the rich and the poor…the young and the old…the successful and the less ambitious…the beautiful and the more ordinary…the super spiritual and those with absolutely no faith affiliation…male and female…and all races. It doesn’t differentiate…all are affected.

It can affect anybody and everybody.

Many people don’t want to talk about it to someone who unsuccessfully attempted suicide, because most feel if they bring the topic up, the person may attempt suicide again. Also, if someone lost a loved one to suicide, there are no words to bring comfort—and that truly scares people so they do the worst thing possible…they ignore the person impacted by the suicide. 

Yet, there are so many individuals and families who are wearing the emotional scars that suicide have inflicted on them and they are hurting very, very badly!

I think knowledge is key. The more people know better, they’ll do better. The more they understand what to do and say, the more they’ll better understand how to comfort others, too!

With that said, here’s what I wish people understood about suicide:

1. Suicide is not primarily meant to be a selfish act-

When a hurting person attempts suicide, they truly are not trying to be selfish. They’re not considering who their actions are about to hurt or devastate…they may even falsely believe they’re making life better for those left behind. They could have ALL the love in the world for their loved ones (and from their loved ones) they are about to leave behind…but their pain just happens to win out. Life has finally become too much for them to cope with and they just want to escape their incredible pain or the painful consequences (of their own self or brought on by others) of whatever they are experiencing or dealing with in life. 

They aren’t in their right mind and they aren’t thinking about all of the new crop of problems they’ll be leaving for their family and friends to deal with…so they choose a permanent solution without fully realizing there may be solutions they have not yet thought of…but they genuinely are not trying to do a selfish last act. It can completely seem as though suicide is a most selfish act, but for majority who consider it, they’re not thinking about anything or anyone (including their own self), their focus is just on their own pain.

Think of it this way: if you were thrown out to sea, you would most likely tread water. Even if the waves got choppy, it’d become more challenging but you’d still continue to tread water. Eventually, you’d become weary and feel beat down…but you’d still keep treading water. But, what if it suddenly began to horrifically storm and the waves were engulfing you, forcing you down into the depths of the raging sea…and you kept trying to tread water, but no matter what you tried, nothing seemed to help. Maybe you’d even try to float on your back for awhile but the waves keep pounding you down with no relief? You’re left broken down with no feeling of hope. That’s how life is every single day for someone who is hurting…they just can’t seem to ever catch their breath…so in an incredibly weak moment, they randomly decide to quit on life.

I don’t believe they intentionally mean to quit on their loved ones…they instead feel they are simply quitting on their painful existence that they call life.

Truly, they are NOT trying to hurt anyone and they genuinely are not trying to be selfish…their focus is completely condensed into focusing only on their personal drowning pain.

It just became too much.

2. The loved ones left behind (from either an attempt or a succeeded suicide) are hurting incredibly but are often ignored, displaced, neglected or left to themselves

Most people, after attempting suicide, are completely ignored. Family and friends have mixed emotions: some do not know what to say…some are angry the person didn’t reach out to them…some falsely believe the person was selfish or just “trying to get attention”…some are fearful they’ll eventually lose the person to another attempt so they retreat…some are laden with guilt and don’t understand how to apologize or how to make things right or better…so they choose not to talk to the person who attempted or to the family of the one who succeeded.

It is VITAL for people to reach out to those who have attempted suicide, and if the person succeeded, to reach out to the deceased person’s remaining family! 

If a person failed at the attempt, not only are they left with the original hurt that drove them to their attempt, they now have to deal with the fact that everybody knows about their attempt. They now may feel foolish, embarrassed, and/or regretful.

If the person was successful, their family and closest friends are writhing in pain and regrets.

Please do not ignore those impacted by suicide. They need your love and encouragement more than ever! If you’re not sure what to say or do, take a step back and think if it were you or your family member in the same situation…how would you hope others would treat you? What would you want for others to say or do? Empathy goes a long way when dealing with others who are hurting.

Majority of the time, those affected by suicide…or any type of grief for that matter…really just need for people to show up and just be there. No words required or needed.

3. After a loved one unsuccessfully attempts suicide, their family & closest friends will go through extreme heartache, worry, and fear for months…maybe even years…to come

When a family member or close friend attempts suicide, they unknowingly—and unmeaningly—unleash a multitude of fear and hard emotions onto those closest to them.

They now know what it feels like to almost lose their treasured loved one, so for many months, they will worry and may be fearful that their loved one may attempt suicide again. Each morning, they awake with the all too real understanding that they may get a phone call to say their loved one did something foolish throughout the night. They feel as though they need to be on guard 24/7…and they also probably feel totally helpless.

If they are the ones who found their loved one, the image can haunt their mind daily. They may even experience PTSD from the incident, depending on how bad the scene was.

Also, their loved one who attempted suicide may not be open to talking about what happened and may not be open to receiving help…which can further amplify their bad feelings and experience.

If you know someone who is going through any of this, please contact them. Let them know you’re here for them to talk to. Be a trustworthy friend to them…do NOT betray their trust. They’re already going through so much that they do not need to deal with further gossip or harm. Allow them to feel what they need to feel, free from judgment. They are beyond over-the-moon thankful their loved one is still here, but they will have some emotions (sadness, gratefulness, fear, worry, numbness, etc) they’ll need to talk about and work out. They may even need to speak to a trusted pastor or therapist who can help them through this tough time.

4. Suicide prevention needs to start in homes, churches, and schools…in that order…and suicide awareness needs to begin early 

A person will learn how to be kind and compassionate from three primary places: home, church, and school settings.

Suicide prevention truly originates, begins, and continues at each of these places so we must get better at teaching children—at age appropriate levels—the value of their own life as well as the value of others lives. We have got to start with the purest prevention which is to teach others how to treat one another and also how to get through trials in life.

So many times, we start to educate people on suicide too late when they’re in high school school. I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to start educating on character qualities and coping skills at the youngest age possible, growing their character education and coping skills each year after that, and then teach suicide prevention (again, at age appropriate levels with age appropriate information) in addition to the character qualities and coping skills starting in middle school.

Something has to change because the current strategies are not completely effective. There are strides though, and I believe people truly want to do better. People genuinely do care! They may just not know how to best go about suicide awareness or prevention within their community or with their loved ones.

I’m so grateful for organizations such as To Write Love On Her Arms and Celebrate Recovery (and other organizations I’ve listed at the end of this post) for doing so much more than the status quo. I’m thoroughly impressed how they are creating dialogue and sparking communication about self-harm, grief, depression, and suicide awareness so people will better understand. Again, when people know better, they can begin to do better.

People, whether in home settings, churches, or schools, need to teach children to understand that their words and actions truly affect others…for the good and also for the bad. We have got to teach children while they are young the character qualities of mercy, kindness, compassion, and consideration…and give them plenty of opportunities to practice these qualities. We also need to teach them solid coping skills so they can understand how to truly navigate through life no matter what happens to them through an unexpected grief experience.

It all begins in our homes, churches, and schools—and must continue and be built on each and every year.

5. Suicide isn’t always a mental illness issue

Sometimes, suicide is very much a mental health issue and at times, it is an isolated moment. Other times, it is an extended grief issue. When people understand which type of issue suicide stems from, they’re much better able to serve and help the person who is hurting.

I think some who are hurting do not reach out for help because they don’t want others to perceive them as mentally ill or “crazy.”

I also think that some who are hurting have been through an isolated incident (such as abuse, rape, or something similar) and they don’t reach out for help because they don’t want to reveal what has happened in their life.

Other times, I think some who are hurting have not effectively received help for a past or recent grief issue, so their sadness and grief extends itself, overwhelming them.

Wherever their depression or thoughts of suicide originated from, in a weakened emotional moment, they choose to end everything.

It is so important to know where loved ones are at emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and grief-wise so we can know how to most effectively help them.

6. Sometimes, even the best efforts possible can’t prevent a suicide attempt

Even with the best plan…the best suicide prevention implemented…the best family and friends…the best strategy to prevent suicide…sometimes, nothing works.

I’ve met people who have attempted suicide who seemed to “have it all”—an enormous amount of money, family and friends who deeply love them, a great career, great looks/body, great car/home, etc. Yet, their pain catapulted them into thoughts of suicide.

I’ve met families who did everything in their power to help their loved one, got them the best spiritual, psychiatric, and therapeutic help possible, brought incredible love and encouragement into the life of their loved one… yet they could not stop their loved one from committing suicide.

I wish every family member who is kicking and hating themselves could find the peace, comfort, love and grace for their hurting heart and tortured soul they so desperately need. Sometimes, the best efforts in helping simply couldn’t connect to the one who chose to commit suicide.

7. It is incredibly rude, arrogant, and mean spirited to tell a person their loved one is now in hell due to committing suicide, or to talk about how selfish their loved one was for committing suicide

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve had a griever share how someone came up to them and informed them that God sent their loved one to hell for committing suicide or how someone made cutting remarks about how selfish their loved one was. I also can’t tell you how much I find this to be rude, hateful, and inappropriate. 

God is never fond of anyone cutting their life or life purpose short…not at all…but God is also a God of great compassion, love, redemption, mercy, and incredible empathy.

God collects every tear each person cries…records every heartache each person ever goes through…carries each person’s grief experiences in His very own heart…and cares so much about each person that His thoughts of them outnumber the grains of sand on the earth! God is not a God of hatefulness…His love always covers over a multitude of sins. This goes for the ones who chose to end their life, the ones who failed at their attempt, as well as the remaining loved ones who are now battling deep grief.

Please consider how you would feel if you were already going through a horrendous grief experience such as suicide…what would you want someone to say to you? 

Love others how you would want to be loved in a similar situation. Be the mercy and compassion today that you would hope to receive tomorrow.

8. There is HEALING and there is HOPE!

Whether you are someone who failed an attempt at suicide or you are the remaining family and close friends of someone who attempted or succeeded at suicide, I truly hope this blog post has helped you. I also hope you will share it with your family and friends to help them better understand your heartache, anguish, and pain.

When people haven’t personally experienced a devastating grief experience such as suicide, there is so much they simply just don’t understand. They most likely do care, very much so, they just don’t have the knowledge of what to say or do.

There is healing in God’s love, healing within grief communities and grief organizations, healing within the love and safety of family, churches, and close friends… and there is HOPE!

If you are someone who has attempted suicide, or you feel hopeless and are considering an attempt, I wholeheartedly ask you to get the help and encouragement you need. If you had a broken leg or severe allergies, you’d get medical treatment to become happy, healthy, and whole again…how much more precious is your heart, spirit, mind, and soul? There are so many loving people who care about you and are willing to help bring you back to life. Please contact a trusted pastor, therapist, family member, or friend, or the National Suicide Hotline or Focus on the Family. ALL are committed to helping you through this tough time in your life. You have a life purpose that only YOU can do. Without you here, it cannot be accomplished. Your loved ones would be left devastated with an ache in their heart that will never fully heal. Ask them for their help and allow them to fully help, love, and encourage you!

If you are a family member or friend who has lost a loved one to suicide, I am so incredibly sorry for your loss and your devastating heartache, and your ongoing grief and pain. I wholeheartedly encourage you to reach out to a local church, grief organization, or grief support group, as well as trusted family members and friends, so you can begin to heal. 

I am including a resource list at the end of this post with helpful encouraging resources to help anyone who is going through a suicide issue or a grief experience.
Thank you for reading this blog post! I hope it truly encourages and motivates all who are hurting, and hope it serves as a bridge to help connect all who read it to important resources, and truly hope it encourages each to make a difference in their hurting family members and friends lives!

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2015 by Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved. 

If what you read was helpful, please feel free to share it❤️

RESOURCES:

❤️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