Tag Archive | loss of a loved one

The Yo-Yo of Grief & Holidays

Most grievers go through…and understand…the yo-yo cycles of grief.

You dread the holidays…then you desperately want to have the ability to enjoy the holidays…then you agonize about the holidays…then you go through a period of time where you just wish holidays could be normal again…and then you may feel guilty when you do enjoy the holidays…then you feel weird…then come to peace about it…and the grief cycle can spin you again out of nowhere…and so on…and so on…and so on.

The thing about grief: nobody who is going through grief signed up for it.

The harsh emotional turmoil.

The guilt.

The regrets.

The crazy emotions.

Nobody in their right mind would even wish it on their most annoying enemy. I know I wouldn’t.

My holiday yo-yo began several years ago…and I sure have learned a lot about God, grief, life, family, friends, and overcoming grief ever since.

Several years ago, my 22 year old sister died on Thanksgiving Day.

It shouldn’t have happened…she had everything going for her: she was married and she was a mom to three beautiful children who she loved with all of her heart. She adored and enjoyed being a mom so much that she was trying to have another baby. An amazing pianist, she had taken piano lessons at a university since elementary school since no teachers in our area could keep up with her talent. An accomplished baker, she and I had been going to several baking and candy workshops since we were in the process of opening our very own bakery and chocolatier…that way we could always have a flexible schedule and have our kiddos with us. She had everything in the world going for her.

But then she got sick. Really, really sick. Really, really fast.

That Fall, we were all on vacation having the time of our lives…a month later, she began to have allergy-like symptoms, and then within a few weeks of feeling ill, she suddenly and unexpectedly died of Wegener’s Granulomatosis (GPA) – a very rare autoimmune disease that was only named in 1939.

Thanksgiving has never been the same since…and believe me, I have really tried.

I’ve tried vacationing during Thanksgiving to get my mind off of it – to no avail. Then I tried going on a Disney vacation…the happiest place on earth…and during that trip, I had to go to the Urgent Center since I was so sick. In fact, the first several years after my sister’s death, I’d wake up every year around 4am and become violently ill. There has never been a Thanksgiving since that I haven’t gotten sick or felt major anxiety.

The last Thanksgiving morning she was alive, she had her nurse call us around 4am and ask us to immediately come to the hospital to be with her. We threw our clothes on and got there…only to be blocked from seeing her by her medical team.

Then the Code Blue came…and they revived her. And then the final Code Blue came…and she was gone.

I guess my body remembers the 4am time – and that whole morning – because every year since, I have become extremely ill or anxious each Thanksgiving from 4am-10am.

Frustrated by Thanksgiving, I finally found a way to cope. For years, I have put all of my Christmas decorations up by November 1, so I could just go straight into the Christmas season.

I still celebrate Thanksgiving with my family…and I am extremely thankful for God, my family and friends, and all of life’s blessings…but this has helped me to not focus on the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Although I am super thankful for life, loved ones, and every blessing God lovingly grants me – and although I put on a happy face for the sake of my remaining loved ones…mostly my sweet mom and the kiddos in my life – I just don’t like Thanksgiving.

In October, and up until this week, I was actually looking forward to Thanksgiving…it’s the very first year that I have actually looked forward to it.

I haven’t put up one Christmas tree, ornament, or decoration yet.

I was still feeling anxiety about Thanksgiving, but I was super grateful for the progress of my grief. And it felt good to not experience the yo-yo of grief the last six weeks – especially from all the years I tried so desperately to run away from the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

I’ve spent many years going back and forth trying to make my heart feel something it just didn’t feel.

I think most grievers understand what I’m talking about…especially if they’ve experienced a holiday death. But it’s not just the death of a loved one…it could also be loss of any kind.

But then this week, all of the feelings of dread are starting to creep back.

So the yo-yo is apparently still strong.

I always try to be very transparent in my grief so I can help and encourage others.

I hope this blog post doesn’t come across as whining. I truly hope it helps someone to know they’re not alone in their grief.

Here’s my advice for getting through the Yo-Yo of grief:

  1. Seek God’s heart. It is truly amazing the amount of comfort and love God will shower onto those who love Him! Making God my closest and most treasured Friend has made all the difference in the world! Even during times when I don’t think a grief situation is fair, He patiently and lovingly always directs me in the right way. I can’t stress this enough…when you feel like you don’t want to trust His plan, always trust His great heart! Fight for your relationship with God…never give up on the true Treasure of His Friendship!
  2. Be true to your grief. Don’t force yourself to feel anything that isn’t authentic. If you feel sad, honor that sadness. If you feel fine, don’t feel guilty for having a good holiday…it doesn’t mean you love someone less. Good days & good holidays are truly a gift…embrace them when they come!
  3. Share with your family and friends where you are at in your grief…and don’t be ashamed of your grief. Don’t assume they should know or that they should instantly understand…take the time to share your heart.
  4. Don’t make family or close friends be mind readers. Tell them what you need so you will have the ability and support you need to get through the day.
  5. Do only what you feel you can truly do. It’s totally okay to have a relaxed holiday. If you’ve lost someone very close to you, it can take awhile to find a “new normal” for life and holidays…and sometimes the “new normal” you found can suddenly change and need readjusting. It’s okay not to always be okay…and that is totally FINE!! Be gentle with your heart!
  6. Light a memory candle in honor of your loved one…or do something special to “include” their memory. I have found that lighting a memory candle is a very special way of including my loved ones – it’s a beautiful way of saying, “I love you…I miss you…I will never forget you…I sure wish you were here!”
  7. NEVER apologize for your grief. If other people are uncomfortable with you honoring your grief or loved one, well tough. Lovingly remind them that you didn’t sign up for your grief experience…you’re doing what you need to do to get through it. So they’re frustrated? Kindly remind them that you’re frustrated too. Losing a loved one is the highest price you pay for loving someone…just because a loved one dies, your love doesn’t die too. People sometimes forget that.❤️
  8. Be careful to not create future guilt or regrets. I love the quote, “Even though I am grieving, the clock is still ticking, and that’s why I keep living purposefully.” I take the time to truly honor my grief, but I also make a very purposeful choice to celebrate and extravagantly love my remaining loved ones. Just like my sister suddenly died, I realize that is a possibility for everyone else I know too…so I make sure not to isolate myself and I choose to make the most of Thanksgiving and other holidays. I’m very authentic about my grief, I honor my grief…but I also honor my loved ones who are here as well.

This Thanksgiving, I am praying for all of the Grief Bites Family! May you highly treasure God, enjoy your remaining loved ones, and honor & remember your treasured loved ones who are no longer on earth.

Wishing all of you a very peaceful, special, joy-filled, and loving Thanksgiving Day!!

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!For more encouragement: ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

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

❤️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

❤️

7 TIPS FOR HELPING A GRIEVING LOVED ONE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Do you know 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 loved, treasured, and missed. The holidays can be a painful reminder of the fact 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 can 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 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 hint or 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 or chores for them. A small kindness and helpful gesture goes a very long way in encouraging someone 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 special Christmas church event, 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, unfortunately, they avoid seeing them altogether. Please let the grievers in your life know you care. An invitation can 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. Simply let them know someone truly cares. No words necessary…just be truly, genuinely caring and a good listener. And if they confide in you, please do not betray that precious trust. 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 realize.

Please consider whose life (and heart) you can make a difference in this week! Think of someone you know who is going through grief or a hard time and 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:

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

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

⭐️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

5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance and advice.

🎄❤️🎄

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 Titan, 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, check out Part 1 of this series on pet loss.

We were very blessed to have support from our loved ones, which certainly 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 pet loss…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, multiple times each day, the first few weeks after my son’s puppy died. Then I seemed to be doing better (crying just a few times each day)…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 their beloved 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 my son and I euthanized his puppy, my mom and sister came to the veterinarian’s office. I didn’t even know they were coming, but it truly meant so much to me. As my son held his puppy and cried, 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 truly meant so much to us!

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, 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): Click here for book

❤️🐾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

Grief & Holidays—helpful tip #7

Christmas week carries so many tough emotions for those who are grieving. Emotions such as heartache, fear, anxiety, dread, and bittersweetness can be overwhelming. It’s so important to allow family and close friends to help you and comfort you.

Today’s tip for the holidays is:

Allow yourself the gift of receiving help, comfort, love, and encouragement.

  • Allow people to hug you
  • Allow others to help you through your grief 
  • Allow others to run errands for you
  • Allow others to spend time with you
  • Allow others to make the holiday dinner if you don’t feel up to it this year 
  • Allow others to help you send out thank you notes for any kindness others have done or do
  • Allow others to help you shop
  • Allow others to comfort and encourage you
  • Allow those closest to you to know how you’re truly feeling and doing

This is just a short list. Each person who grieves will know what they are comfortable – or uncomfortable – allowing others to do.

Grief is extremely hard work. Be kind to yourself and others – and know that nobody fully has grief all figured out. Grief is like a puzzle and each griever has to figure out what pieces to use so they can rebuild their heart, life, and traditions. One of the puzzle pieces is allowing others to help, comfort, encourage, and offer you their love, condolences, encouragement, and support.

Whatever help or encouragement you allow this holiday season, I truly hope your heart cared for and comforted.

May everybody have a blessed Christmas week!

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): Click here for book

⭐️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

5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance and advice.

🎄❤️🎄

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, 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, acquaintance, or neighbor, you have the AMAZING opportunity to offer compassion, support, and HOPE this Christmas season.

Choose to be the BLESSING and compassion today that you will hope to receive tomorrow.

Think about each of these tips, and while you’re reading them, think of who you can bless 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. 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 bereaved 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 them up is welcomed by most. You’re not going to hurt them 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 family holiday dinner or Christmas festivities. Sometimes, traditional family dinners can be challenging. If you are a close enough friend, they may welcome an opportunity for a new place and environment to go to for dinner or holiday celebrations.

5. Invite your grieving loved one to a holiday movie, out for coffee, to a Christmas church service, 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 a griever so they avoid seeing someone in grief. Please let them know you care. An invitation will speak volumes of your concern for them.

6. Be patient with those in grief. Life as they once knew it has been drastically altered. 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 truly, genuinely caring and being 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 Christmas 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:
⭐️
ng peace with God: http://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): Click here for book

⭐️FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Gri
s: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
2. Gri
s: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships
3. Gr
tes:
t Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
4. Gr
tes:
w Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

Overcoming Annual Grief Cycles: Why You May Experience Feeling Down Out Of Nowhere

When a tragic or heartbreaking grief event happens in life, it can velcro itself to your heart and memory storage. Some are obvious; others are not.

When you go through a major grief event such as a death, you’re much more familiar with the anticipation of sad feelings that will surface because the event has an exact date. Example: death of a loved one, divorce, etc. You know the date is coming up so you can easily label your feelings, grief, and heartache.

Other times, people can feel “blue” around a certain time each year and not be able to pinpoint where the feeling came from or understand why such intense emotions surfaced. A non-death grief event most likely happened, but the date wasn’t exactly remembered or written down. Example: a sexual assault while growing up (rape, molestation), adultery, divorce, a bad breakup, a natural disaster or house fire, discovering you have a major illness, tragic military event, major relationship issues, a PTSD/traumatizing event, etc.

These events can leave a huge imprint on your spirit, heart, mind, emotions, and even your body’s cells.

I’m a big advocate of creating a timeline of grief events that have happened in life and writing them down on paper…this way, you can go through each grief event and process it.

Feel what you need to feel. Allow yourself the freedom to thoroughly filter the circumstance and release the harsh emotions with the goal of nurturing and healing your heart.

Process each year of your life. Be so very grateful for all of the good that each year held, and work through and release any bad that happened as well.

While growing up, there were times during the year where I’d feel unexplainably down and discouraged.

I later figured out that during these times, a grief event had happened close to or on the date years before.

At that discovery, I made it a point to be mindful of potential annual grief cycles which greatly helped to overcome them.

So how do you overcome annual grief cycles?

  • Make a list of every significant grief event you’ve been through throughout your life
  • Keep a calendar of grief events so you are aware and prepared for them
  • Take the time to thoroughly grieve each event so there is minimal unfinished business as much is up to you
  • Seek out extra support and encouragement during potential or established grief dates
  • It can be helpful to talk to a trusted pastor, counselor, family member, or close friend on the date of an annual grief event
  • Pray God grants you the courage, encouragement, healing, and peace you need to get through the tough feelings of your grief event 
  • After thoroughly taking the time to grieve, make it a priority to have a day of relaxation, rejuvenation, and enjoyment on days of an annual grief cycle (this can take time and hard work to accomplish but is totally worth it)
  • Be compassionate to yourself and realize grief recovery takes time
  • Allow yourself the gift of grieving in healthy ways in your own time while growing through your grief

Once I understood and was able to anticipate annual grief cycles — and took the time to override annual grief dates with relaxing and enjoyable activities — my anxiety and sadness around those dates was dramatically resolved. It didn’t happen overnight, but with every year I chose to override these tough dates of sadness with new memories…good memories…I was freed up from stagnant discouragement and anxiety.

Imagine a piece of paper that is folded in half. To help “heal” the bent paper, you don’t just merely unfold the paper…it would still have a bend. To create a difference, you would need to fold it the opposite way. Yes, there may still be a crease, but the paper will no longer be bent.

We need to do this when it comes to grief and traumatic events in our lives: heal the fold by intentionally folding our lives in opposite much better ways. Yes, there will still be evidence of what happened…but the more we create a difference – after thoroughly grieving and feeling what we need to feel – it will no longer be as debilitating for us.

This week, make a list of any significant grief events you’ve been through, and think of creative ways to override annual grief cycles so you can truly begin to enjoy life once again.

Wishing all of you healing, peace, and great brand new memories as you work through your grief!

Gratitude & blessings,
Kim

©2016 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: https://www.peacewithgod.net

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): https://www.christianbook.com/getting-knocks-transparent-journey-seeking-through/k-b-h-niles

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

❤️Kim’s blog: https://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

5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print. 

⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance and advice.

💗

Mourning Those Who Are Still Alive: 10 Ways To Weather The Storm

Most grief recovery efforts naturally include helping grievers to mourn loved ones who have died…but what if the person you are mourning is still alive?

To have once enjoyed a great, solid, rich relationship with a loved one—and then no longer have a good relationship (or to then have a drastically changed relationship or no relationship at all)—this terribly and horribly breaks a heart in a very unique, painful way.

When drastic change occurs, or a difficult situation or relationship develops, it can cause excruciating heartache, loss, and sadness. It truly can feel as though someone you deeply love has died, and you are forced to go through a silent funeral inside of your heart every single day.

There are many reasons why this can happen:

  • Spouses commit adultery or file for divorce, or a significant other leaves or betrays you
  • Children react to parents due to divorce or co-parenting challenges…sometimes parents react back
  • A parent has an affair or gets remarried and then chooses to distance or remove themselves from the relationship with their child(ren)
  • Children react to an adulterous affair a parent had or children react to how the affair victim/parent handled an affair
  • A loved one battles debilitating mental illness, severe depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s, or a loved one goes through the longterm effects of a traumatic brain injury or serious injury— and these circumstances completely change the dynamics of the relationship
  • Parents react to children and children react to parents on “life” issues, moral decisions, or spiritual issues
  • A parent, step parent, or other family member spitefully pits a child, parent, step parent or family member against one another
  • Custody or visitation issues, foster care challenges, or family conflicts cause deep heartache…even estrangement
  • Spouses return home deeply wounded emotionally, physically, spiritually or mentally from serving in the military…or spouses betray the spouse who is away serving
  • A spouse, child, or family member goes through a serious medical challenge, experiences deep grief, or another terrible life event or life challenge and they drastically change or become a completely different person
  • Parents abandon their children, and/or children rebel against or abandon their parents
  • Siblings, or other family members, deeply change and are no longer close
  • A family member battles addiction—or another stronghold or wrong thinking—and you can’t get through to them
  • Relationship issues due to mistreating or reacting to one another…and one or both people aren’t willing to repair or improve things
  • An adult child can enter into a romantic relationship (or marriage) and their parent doesn’t approve or isn’t willing to respect their child’s partner, spouse, and/or marriage…or vice versa
  • Friendships heartbreakingly dissolve
  • Physical, mental, or emotional abuse issues create hardships, family division, and heartache
  • A family relationship, friendship, or church relationship dissolves due to a betrayal, a lack of understanding, conflict, or deep hurts
  • Family members or in-laws are mistreated due to another family members/in-laws dysfunction
  • Bitterness and an unwillingness to forgive or work on the relationship takes root
  • Some sever ties to “make a point” or to intentionally inflict heartache in reaction to their own pride or pain
  • A family member becomes a prodigal
  • A sibling, parent, child or other family member marries someone who isn’t respectful of sibling/parent/child/family relationships…so to avoid arguing with their romantic partner, they choose to “keep the peace,” and choose their significant other over longterm relationships…or a parent chooses their significant other over their children
  • Ultimately, a lack of respect, genuine love, honor, boundaries, and commitment – and ultimately a lack of good character – can wreck major havoc on relationships and families
  • Lots and lots of other reasons

Anytime a relationship changes for the worse, abruptly changes, or becomes fractured or shattered, it is very, very painful. And many times, the result is to feel helpless, as though you have run out of options.

When this happens, what can you do?

  1. Pray. Pour your heart out to God and ask for Him to intervene in the relationship and situation. Pray God touches your loved ones heart…pray God will show them a deep love for them, Him, (and you), and conviction for any sin that is in their life. Pray God pours His love, kindness, and provision into their life…anything that will help them to realize how much God and you love them.
  2. Possibly prepare for God to ask you to make a change or to do something uncomfortable.
  3. As much as depends on you, apologize and ask for forgiveness for your part…knowing that the other person may never humble their self by apologizing back to you.
  4. Place your loved one and the entire situation in God’s Hands….and take your hands off (and out of) the situation. Realize God can do more in one MOMENT than you could ever hope to do in an entire LIFETIME.
  5. KEEP YOUR NOSE CLEAN…meaning, do the right thing and choose to show genuine love no matter what. Take the higher ground. Be completely loving, Christ-like, and kind. Close your mouth (this can be very hard to do!) and do your God-given responsibilities. This will be extremely hard, but remember: God’s got this! He needs for you to reflect His character, love, and glory. It will be very helpful to memorize and recite these scriptures when you’re tempted to put your hands back in the situation or for the times you’re tempted to not keep your nose clean: Exodus 14:14, Ephesians 6:11-13, 1 Samuel 17:47, Psalm 34:18. This does NOT mean be a doormat, but for God to accomplish His greatest work, it’s very important to get out of God’s way and to fully obey God.
  6. Seek and find what helps to heal your heart. It might be going to therapy, talking to a pastor, or working through all of the emotions and grieving through your tough situation.
  7. Have faith and fully expect God to work in the situation. It may or may not be how you had in mind, but God will definitely be working in the situation (and working out the best outcome) as you genuinely trust in Him to do so.
  8. Ask God to provide you with a strong, loving support system: trusted family, trusted friends, trusted pastors/counselors, trusted support groups/biblical community…keyword here is TRUSTED. To get through the toughest times in life, a strong support system is vital. Accountability partners can also be very important. Work on yourself and do your own self-work with the Lord’s help. Consider your individual relationship with the Lord, your joy and life purpose apart from the situation, consider your part in the situation, look soberly at your own faults and possible blind spots – both in and out of the situation, and seek to improve yourself as you love and serve God to the fullest as you wait on Him. (Psalm 46:10, Matthew 6:9-15, Matthew 6:33-34, Proverbs 3:5-6)
  9. . There is a huge difference between peacemaking/compromise and allowing yourself to be manipulated/degraded. God never made anyone to be a doormat. For a relationship to be healthy, both people need to do the right thing. Relationships are like a swinging door… If it’s constantly opening for one person, but slamming shut in the other persons face, that’s never going to work long-term. Be careful allowing yourself to be degraded instead of creating healthy compromise. If genuine repentance and change do not occur, you’re always going to have conflict. It will just be a different situation and a different circumstance. Heart change is needed for lasting results... otherwise you’re just putting a Band-Aid on something that they’re gonna rip off and hurt you again.
  10. Delight in God (Psalm 37:4). When we go through hardships, it becomes easy to become impatient, worry, have anxiety, or become fearful or bitter. We can even be tempted to doubt God’s goodness or become greatly upset with Him. God has a better way! Delight yourself in God, learn to trust and lean on Him, and extravagantly love Him as He carries you through your grief and the storm you are in the middle of. He knows your heart, loves your heart (and knows and loves your loved one’s heart!), and no matter what happens in your situation, He will carry you, heal your broken heart, and love you back to life…no matter what! He will NEVER leave you!! In fact, other than our relationship with our own self, God is the ONLY relationship we are guaranteed to continually have here on earth. We can NEVER lose His love!
  • Allow God to positively change your heart through the process…and whether your situation or relationship changes for the better or not…eventually use your situation to wisely help and encourage others. You are going to be an absolute TREASURE to someone else who will be walking through a similar tough relationship situation. Learn as much as you can through your situation TODAY so you can encourage and help others in the present or FUTURE. God never wastes grief. There is always good that can grow out of it.
  • Whatever situation or relationship you are grieving or experiencing deep heartache in, please realize there is hope! I agree with you in prayer for God to heal, encourage, and help you and your loved one(s) through whatever you are going through. I pray God works mightily in each relationship, heart, mind, spirit, and situation! If a positive outcome is not possible due to a permanent, toxic, or debilitating situation, I pray God grants you the gifts of grace and His peace that passes understanding…and the ability to truly press forward and heal. God DOES love you, He greatly values you, and He already knows how He plans to help you – and every situation of grief you are facing or will ever face!

    Even if a relationship never finds peace or reconciliation again, realize it does NOT diminish your value. Before you were ever a family member, spouse, child, parent, or a friend, you were God’s. He will always unconditionally love you, because you are totally valuable and “enough” to Him. Yes, you will go through incredible heartache if reconciliation does not take place, but God will be there for you every single day—especially on your toughest days!

    There is always hope and your life is precious! Please never forget that!❤️

    Gratitude, healing, love, & many blessings,
    Kim

    ©2016 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): Click here for book

    ⭐️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

    5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

    6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

    7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

    ⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

    ⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance and advice.

    🎄❤️🎄