Tag Archive | mourning

Have Questions for God?

All throughout history, people have struggled with the question, “Why did God allow this to happen?” – and even accuse God of abandoning them.

Gideon was no different.

Judges‬ ‭6:12-13‬, “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.””

Gideon was in the middle of a crisis and his hope and trust were thin. Can you relate?

My interest in Gideon was piqued while reading my friend (Tom R. Harper)’s book, Servant Leader Strong: Uniting Biblical Wisdom and High-Performance Leadership, and I have thoroughly enjoyed studying about Gideon in the Bible as a result.

Gideon was an unlikely hero and conquerer – the odds were significantly stacked against the poor guy – yet God greatly used him in a huge, powerful way.
But first, God needed to work in Gideon’s heart.

In the 6th chapter of Judges, we find God revealed to Gideon some key things that needed to happen before He granted deliverance:

  1. A removal of a false God – what do we need to remove from our lives so that God can powerfully work? What “god(s)” are we choosing over the one true God?
  2. Sacrifice – God doesn’t NEED our sacrifices (Hosea 6:6 – another great book!) but He does desire a heart that is sold out to Him and Him alone. God wants us to give Him this: rightful first place in our hearts and lives. Loyalty. Love. Commitment.
  3. God desires for us to trust Him – we need to remove our doubts, our fears, and overcome our questions so we can have – and intimately experience – a dynamic encounter with Him.
  4. Obedience – whether it makes sense to us or not.

Notice as you read Judges 6 that God was patient with Gideon. When Gideon lacked hope or faith, or even had questions, God lovingly provided grace and evidence of His love and guidance.

God will do the same for us, too!

The most difficult times of my life have led to some of my greatest times with God. Difficult times are never easy – they’re painfully excruciating – but God has always carried me through these tough times. Faithfully.

When life throws BIG problems at you…these are often allowed so we will stop depending on ourselves and depend on God.
God-sized problems always open up the opportunity for God to provide God-sized love and answers.

Today, read Judges.

God will never abandon us. Ever.

Whatever “battle” we are going through in life, God has the power to bring total victory – no matter what the odds appear to be.

I challenge all of us to:

  • seek God’s face
  • remove the things/“gods”/sin in our heart that prevent us from truly putting God first
  • be fully devoted to God
  • Love and obey Him with all of our heart
  • ask God to remove our doubts, fears, and worries as we cast all of our cares upon Him
  • and ask to experience a dynamic encounter with Him

When we are tempted to question God’s Will, may we always remember this:
God’s perfect Will is exactly what we all would want if we knew ALL the facts. His ways are good and perfect – even if they don’t seem to be perfect and don’t feel good to us. He sees the big picture – start to finish.

Choosing to obey and trust God in difficult circumstances is a beautiful act of faith. And we need God’s continual love, help, and strength to accomplish this.

Let’s choose to love, obey, and trust God – and entrust Him with all the facts as we submit to Him today.
He loves you!💗

Hope all of you are safe and well,
Kim

©2020 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:

❤️Making peace with God: http://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.

❤️

Getting HOPE & The Best Days Of Your Life Back After Grief, Loss, & The Pandemic

Discouragement. Fear. Heaviness of heart. Defeat. Guilt. Regret. Weariness. Anxiety. Turmoil. Fear of the future. Depression. Uncertainty.

There are many feelings that can weigh down and haunt the soul, especially with what all is currently going on in the world.

Many of the feelings that haunt the soul are competitors…they’re competing to knock out your peace, joy, and HOPE.

Due to the pandemic, the world has dramatically changed in just a few months – and in some places, just a matter of weeks or days.

Most of us were enjoying life and loved ones, feeling hopeful about a strengthened economy, and were looking forward to better and brighter days – our best days yet…

…then the rug below was harshly ripped out from underneath us.

We’ve helplessly watched people – even loved ones – suffer. Some have even experienced the death of a treasured loved one. Many are going through financial/job fear and hardship like never before. We’ve watched fear, worry, and anxiety spike…as hope, peace, and faith in the future rapidly fall.

With this pandemic, COVID-19 will affect you in one of three ways: it will seek to massively weaken your (or a loved one’s) health and lungs by infecting your ability to breathe…it can seek to literally and permanently kill your (or a loved one’s) breath causing death…or it will attempt to steal your breath in “life” from you – your hope, faith, relationships, finances, your trust in God – everything you love about life.

I’m so very sorry for all who have experienced the death of a loved one, for all of my readers’ heartache, and all the world is going through. My heart hurts badly for everyone.

I’ve thought a lot about this pandemic…this terrible intruder that continues to affect the lives of so many. I’ve had a lot of extra time to think. Being at home, not being a big TV watcher, and work being affected which has opened up several hours – time seems to be in abundance right now.

We’ve all wanted more time, desperately wanted more hours in our day, but this is not the way we wanted to gain them.

A few days ago, with this new time, I decided to deep clean. Having been affected by cancer, I came across a quote a friend had given me:

WHAT CANCER CANNOT DO

(by Dr. Robert L. Lynn)

Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

With what is going on in the world, it is so very important we all remember a huge truth: nothing on earth – no grief…no pandemic…no disappointment…no financial challenge…no hurts…no loss…no uncertainty…no heartache…none of it can take away any of the things mentioned in the cancer quote above. None of it can take away God’s love or sovereignty, or our life purpose. Nothing.

Re-read the quote above and insert the word of what you’re presently going through (all you are being affected by or are worrying about) to replace the word cancer. For example:

COVID-19 is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

OR…

Grief…illness…financial loss…divorce…(or whatever)…is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

Grief, pandemics, illness, divorce, marriage/family issues, addiction, financial loss/hardships, relationship difficulties, life challenges, rejection — any struggle in life — NONE of these terrible events have the true capacity to defeat you…so don’t allow them that sacred privilege to damage, defeat, or negatively affect you or your soul. Each of these things can do a real number on you…for sure…but it’s up to us to limit their influence and damage.

Sucky life events steal and take away so much from us…but do not ever allow life events to destroy you, your relationship with God, family, or loved ones, or destroy your heart or soul. Never allow anything to destroy your hope.

We can’t completely control grief, loss, or the hard things in life…but we can decide how we will get through each event.

We can choose to be hope-filled…or defeated. And it’s normal if we go back and forth as we continually try to navigate what life has thrown at us. If we want to have better days, we need to continually choose hope if we are going to make it through the tough times.

How do we press forward — especially when our soul is tired?

A little story. It’s a small story, but I hope you’ll find it useful.

When I was in high school, one of my good friends was in a fight. The person who chose to start the fight didn’t give my friend an advantage. Not even a warning. Not at all. My friend was significantly smaller than their opponent and had no idea they were even going to be punched that day. And there wasn’t just the opponent…the opponent brought several friends along with them.

After being punched…my friend, in response, threw a huge, fast, and hard punch back. It just about knocked the opponent out. I was shocked…I bet my friend was shocked…and the opponent and his friends were definitely shocked. The punch allowed my friend to get us out of a bad situation so we’d be safe.

That lil bit of unprecedented courage made an impact: my friend is now a leader in the military. He credits that day with changing his life.

Totally not advocating violence…not at all…but the principle here is a great analogy for life challenges and grief. We will all be sucker punched out of nowhere by an unexpected life event…we won’t even know what hit us…but instead of quitting or accepting defeat, we need to dig deep to find unprecedented courage and punch life challenges back. Huge. Fast. Hard.

Life challenges and grief rob so much from us…do not allow it to rob you further by stealing more of your life, allowing it to get you to quit, or giving up your hope.

Feel what you need to feel. Get through those harsh emotions and horrible days. Learn all you can through any bad event life throws your way. Allow the events to teach you the lessons you didn’t sign up for…but do not ever tap out. Fight with everything you have to get your breath back after life has knocked it out of you.

We will get through these tough days. We may lose a lot along the path of figuring out this new normal and getting our breath back…we each have a long road ahead of us…but life can be good once again. It can definitely be good once again because we will choose for it to be good. We’re not going to allow bad events to choose for us what the quality of our life is going to be. We’re not going to allow life challenges, this pandemic, or grief to decide that for us. It’s already chosen so much for us…now it’s time to start taking the choices – especially choosing to build a quality life – back. We each get to choose what life is going to be now.

Don’t lose hope or faith.

Don’t lose your most prized relationships: God and family…your best loved ones.

Choose today that no matter what you go through, you will choose hope. You will choose to rebuild. You will choose to create.

Building life back up after a major loss is rarely easy…it’s truly painful…but six months from now…one year from now…five years from now…a decade from now…we will look back and be grateful we intentionally chose hope – and to create a good life in spite of monumental challenges. We’ll be thankful we chose to fight to get the breath back that this pandemic – or any other situation of grief – attempted to knock out of us.

What are the steps you need to take today to get your breath and life back? What choices need to be made so you can create the new in your future instead of continually getting lost in the old of the past? What has punched you…and what do you need to punch back huge, fast, and hard? What lessons need to be learned, implemented, and honored during this extraordinarily tough time?

We’ll each get there. I know this because you wouldn’t have read this far if you didn’t have the courage, desire, and tenacity for life change.

Take one step at a time. Continually look at your personal situation, assess and reassess each facet of life, regroup as much as needed, know ahead of time that tough days will continue and happen, allow God to strengthen you, and search for any way to improve your quality of life with God’s grace and help.

Just a note of strong encouragement here: This is the ultimate time for change. When life is hard, it steers us – forces us – into new territory. We don’t like being steered into a new direction…most of us inwardly kick, scream, and resent it…yet it’s the most opportune time to do a true life assessment in every area: relationships, work/career, family, marriage, education/trade, health, etc. Thinking outside the box will undoubtedly lead to new innovation and invention. Ask God what He wants to do through you. Ask Him for major creativity and unprecedented ways to improve life and ways to better help others. All inventions throughout history were created out of times of hardship, uncertainty, or finding ways to better meet a need in the world. I’m looking forward to seeing what new technology, business, and opportunities – as well as life, health, and relationship improvements – will be born out of this time of unparalleled challenge and change.

We have a lot to look forward to.

Several years ago, at a conference in Chicago, I heard a great quote from Wayne Gretzky: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” A small sentence that packs a great big punch. We can all look backwards…and it’s important to do so periodically to learn and not forget…but our best use of time is looking to where life potentially is going to be. That’s what will get us through, and out, of the insurmountable rut and challenging emotions we are all in.

No matter what happens in life, life is still an exquisite gift. The opportunity is there. It’s up to us…each and every day…to choose how to best unwrap the gift of life and enjoy it.

Praying for everyone in the world today. May we all seek God, always choose to do better, and live the absolute best life possible.

By the way…this week, take the time to read Romans 8. See what God has to say to your heart. He loves you and deeply cares about your life. God truly has the power to bring extreme good out of extremely bad circumstances. Ask Him to.❤️

~Kim

©2020 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

Related posts you might like:

❤️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 $3.19 book – all proceeds go back into helping the grief community): 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.

The Perfect Way To Grieve

Anyone who has experienced heartbreaking, life-shattering grief understands just how difficult grieving can truly be: all of the emotions…how mentally and emotionally draining it is…how it can affect your relationships (in both positive and negative ways)…the toll it can take on your energy level…and how it can even impact your health.

Grief can do a real number on you.

There are so many different perspectives and viewpoints on grief – and each person believes their perspective and viewpoint is best:

  • Some say you need to write a letter to say goodbye…others say it’s never “goodbye;” it’s “I’ll see you later.”
  • Some say you need to quickly move on in life…while others say fully embrace your grief and take your time.
  • Some say time heals all wounds…while some still experience difficulty for many, many years.
  • Some say God has nothing to do with grief…others say He’s in every detail.
  • Some attend grief groups and gain the support of family and friends…others prefer to grieve alone and privately.
  • Some cry a lot…others rarely cry at all.
  • Some like to talk about their loved one or loss…others prefer not to.

So what is the perfect way to grieve?

What’s right and what’s wrong?

The truth is: there simply isn’t a perfect way to grieve. And there is no cooker-cutter, one-size-fits-all, right or wrong way to grieve either.

Advice is simply advice.

Help is simply help.

Encouragement is simply encouragement.

Thoughts are simply thoughts.

Grief steps are simply grief steps.

After my sister and one of my best friends died three weeks apart, I tried to follow the traditional grief steps. Problem was, I didn’t experience any of them in the correct order. I felt like a grief failure!

I eventually learned what works for one person may not work for another. What one griever might find encouraging may not encourage another person at all.

Some are easily able to process their grief/loss immediately, while for others, it seriously takes time and a lot of effort.

Some are able to eventually date/remarry, while another widow may never find the ability to get married again.

Some feel relief (or other extremely difficult, complex emotions) when a loved one dies (due to abuse situations, terminal illness, abandonment, relationship difficulties, etc), while others may feel total, utter loss.

Some are able to celebrate holidays and return back to living life quickly, while another may need a lot of time to find their smile again. Some may never fully find it.

Grief is an incredibly personal journey…and there just simply isn’t one perfect road to healing. There are many.

It is so very important for all grievers – and their family and friends – to remember this very important truth:

The perfect way to grieve simply doesn’t exist.

Each person’s grief experience is as custom and unique as the person who is navigating through it.

Have compassion and empathy for one another as you seek out and find the best grief resources for you. With so many good grief resources available – locally, nationally, through churches, as well as on the internet, each griever can customize these precious resources to best fit their needs.

The most important thing is to find the help and encouragement you feel most comfortable with to grow and heal throughout your grief journey.

This may include:

  • deepening your relationship with God and allowing Him to guide and direct you through your grief
  • allowing trusted family and friends to encourage and support you
  • talking to a trusted pastor
  • finding a good grief counselor or therapist
  • reading good books on grief and loss
  • seeking out your church’s grief resources
  • attending a grief group (online or in person) such as GriefShare, The Compassionate Friends, Grief Bites, The Grief Recovery Method, or other grief support groups offered through various churches.
  • online resources such as Grief Bites, Hope For The Broken Hearted, or Open to Hope, various grief blogs, or other trusted organizations.
  • reading grief and loss related Bible reading plans on YouVersion, the Bible app
  • anything positive and healthy you find to be of help

Although there is no one “perfect way” to grieve, each person has the daily opportunity to grieve in their own unique perfect way.

Wishing all of you healing, comfort, and peace!

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

❤️Connect on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

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

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

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

❤️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

Above grief resources and organizations are only mentioned for encouragement purposes only and are not to be considered an endorsement by Grief Bites. Use of any is a personal decision and at own risk.

A Huge Lesson Learned From My 100 lb Friend

This entire year – especially the past few months – has been a time of learning and growing.

Sometimes, I love and enjoy learning/growing seasons. This one…eh…not so much.

It’s been painful…very, very painful.

…Yet I do appreciate seasons like these.

Anyone who reads my blog, or has been to an event I’ve spoken at, knows how much my family and I love dogs – especially our dogs.

We have really, really big dogs. Our family’s biggest dog weighs 180 lbs (and stands 6’5″ on his hind legs) and our smallest one weighs 90 lbs. Our dog in the middle weighs 100 lbs – and she’s just a puppy!

Due to the breed our puppy is, she recently had to have a gastropexy surgery, along with being spayed.

She wasn’t a happy camper.

She still isn’t.

Having the surgery saved her life…and will prevent future major agony – which could’ve potentially also caused a very painful death due to bloat.

She doesn’t see it that way. She just sees that we took her to a strange place…dropped her off…seemed to abandon her…picked her up and brought her home to teach her a new way of life for a lil bit…only to greatly limit her freedom by putting a cone around her neck and not letting her play, run, or have fun for 14 days.

To keep her incisions clean and to where she couldn’t get to them, we’ve put t-shirts on her, too….(she’s been quite the lil master of destroying cones…she’s chewed through two of them…so the t-shirt is extra protection).

Notice I said “t-shirts”…plural. Oh yes, she’s destroyed 4 t-shirts as well.

Normally a super sweet pup (well, to us she is…she thinks everyone else is an axe-murderer), she’s been miffed. Super, super miffed.

She normally trusts us 100%, but I’d say the level of trust during her recuperation was 20% at best.

You’d think she’d trust us completely because she has an incredible life and she receives tons of love and hugs. Seriously, I wish I had the life of our dogs. It’s a charmed one. She has every reason in the world to trust us.

…But…

During the time of the surgery and healing, she stopped trusting us.

As I was helping her, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity of how I treat God when going through a major grief event.

God is so good to me…

…yet I have accused Him in my heart of taking me to a strange place (grief)…dropping me off…seemingly abandoning me…picking me up just to have me learn a new way of life…only to greatly limit my freedom…and it is definitely not fun.

The same way my puppy is not trusting me…it’s sad to say there are times I’ve treated God the exact same way.

When we get to heaven, I wonder how many days God will show us (throughout our lives) when He worked for our best…preventing future heartache worse then we experienced – and we accused him of not caring. Perhaps He prevented something so much worse that we couldn’t even comprehend.

Times of grief, growing, and learning are hard…but God does care about us. He loves us. And He will make all things work together for good…when we love Him and trust His heart!

If my puppy could simply understand how much I love her…all of the great plans I have for her…the surprises I have in store for her once she’s fully healed….

….goodness, don’t you know that God wants so much more for us – and is willing to give us good gifts in the future!

Matthew 7:11, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

I’m grateful for my big puppy and the spiritual lesson God taught me through her time of recovery. God teaches me lessons through our dogs all of the time.

Just like I would never hurt our dogs or allow pain without a future purpose, I know God would never intentionally allow pain to me without a future purpose.

And sometimes, we cannot see the purpose at all…

…but God can.

Isaiah 55:6-9, Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

‭‭It’s a good reminder – and huge lesson – from my furry lil 100 lb. friend.

Prayer:

Dear Most Gracious Heavenly Father,

Thank You for each and every day of our life…the good and the bad. Sometimes, it’s difficult to trust Your heart and plans, and it’s hard to be thankful in some situations, but we know that You are good. Lord, there are so many who are hurting today. Some are grieving the death of a much-treasured loved one…some are battling addiction or have a loved one battling addiction. Some are going through divorce, adultery, or intense relationship problems. Some are weary from ongoing family or parent/child relationships. Some are experiencing deep financial issues or health issues. Some are trying to figure out how to heal from a loved one’s suicide. So many need to desperately know You are near. I pray for all who are reading this! I pray You will draw near to their heart…give them fresh hope…bring the healing they so desperately are seeking from You. If they have been praying for a loved one, I pray You will answer their heartfelt prayers! Lord, You are good…really, really good! I pray You bring healing, comfort, blessing, strength, and love to all who need it. I especially pray You will show everyone a fresh, new revelation of You and Your incredible love!

I ask this in the powerful Name of Jesus, Amen!

Today, seek God’s heart. Camp out in God’s Word (I especially love Psalms and Proverbs during times of grief). Get to know God for yourself. Take time to delight in God. Pour your heart out to Him. Entrust your situation into His hands.

He is for you. He loves you. He will never leave you. He is the ultimate Comforter.

Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who have been called according to His purpose.

Wishing everyone a good weekend!

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2019 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:

❤️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

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⭐️⭐️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.

Healing From Pet Loss ~ Part 3

This post is a continuation of a series on pet loss I started writing last year.

Most of my readers know that our family experienced the death of our much loved two year-old puppy last Spring. I never could get myself to write about his last day before today, because it was – and sometimes still is – very painful.

If you haven’t read Parts 1 & 2 of this series, I’ll start by sharing about our family’s relationship with our sweet puppy and how we rescued him…and how he rescued us.

At the very end of this post, I will give 20 important tips that can help you tremendously regarding the euthanasia of your treasured pet. There are some lessons my family and I learned the hard way and it is my hope to help others prevent the same (and even unnecessary) pain we experienced.

You can read this entire post in one sitting, break it up into a few reading sessions, or you can feel free to skip down to the 20 tips if you are short on time.

Before I get started, I’d like to share my heart by saying that I realize 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 totally 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 the same way. Whether it is a human being or a pet, this is truth every griever can agree on: The greater the investment, the greater the love…and the greater the love, the greater the grief.

Now to continue, here is how our new puppy was introduced into our lives and how he forever changed our lives and hearts:

For my son’s Christmas present of 2014, all he wanted was a puppy. I wasn’t a dog person at the time. I didn’t even like dogs.

But there I was, granting my son his Christmas wish: a new puppy.

My son had asked me if I would be willing to puppy-sit and help train his new puppy for him, as he worked 10 hours a day and my job is much more flexible since I can work from home. I immediately said yes since it meant I’d get to see my son every day.

When we took my son’s new puppy to the veterinarian for his first checkup, he noticed a few things about our new puppy. The puppy had been abused and was only three weeks old…not eight weeks old like we had been told. The vet noticed our puppy had an injured paw and had little cuts on his head. We hadn’t noticed until the vet pulled back our puppy’s fur.

The lady we had rescued the puppy from told us he was eight weeks old…among other mistruths. We would later come to realize through our vet that this lady had been reported several dozen times for intentionally harming puppies. My heart absolutely went out to this precious, fluffy, sweet puppy as I looked at his scars. Who abuses helpless puppies…and what on earth had he endured the few weeks he had been with her? Our family would find out in just two years that the lady had created the perfect storm for our puppy getting cancer.

After getting the new puppy, I can’t explain it, but my heart absolutely melted. Other than family and close friends, I don’t think I’ve ever loved anyone as much as this puppy. We instantly bonded.

We had our set routine every single day. After my son dropped the puppy off at our house, I’d snuggle with that tiny puppy every morning. It was Christmas time and I was working on an important writing assignment. The puppy was so little, maybe 3 or 4 pounds when we got him. That sweet puppy would gently rest on my shoulder, snuggling so close to my neck and heart, as I researched and did my writing assignments.

The Christmas lights on the trees were aglow in our living room, peaceful Christmas music filled the air, and the preciousness of snuggling with him…and that sweet puppy breath🤗💕…everything was pure bliss! I ended up keeping all of the Christmas decorations up until the end of February because I was enjoying the atmosphere so much with my new furry friend.

Our family was going through a terrible grief experience at the time, and the addition of this new puppy brought so much life back into our lives.

After our snuggle time while I was writing, I would take a few hours to take the puppy on a walk, play with him, and train him. I was absolutely surprised how close I got to this puppy and how much fun we were having! Since the vet had told us how he was abused, I made it my mission to help the puppy understand our family was safe. I wanted him to feel so loved and treasured. Every afternoon, I’d give the puppy a little massage on his back, ears, and paws so he would trust that our hands would never hurt him. After that, he would fall asleep on my lap for about two hours as I took phone calls for work.

We were absolutely inseparable during the day. If I had to leave, I’d even take him with me. Everybody at our bank and our local Starbucks knew our puppy and would get him a dog treat or a puppuccino – a special puppy treat Starbucks offers complimentarily. In the middle of the day, I also took the puppy to see my son at my son’s workplace on his lunch break to strengthen their bond.

As the puppy grew, my love for him grew deeper and stronger too. My appreciation and respect for the puppy grew as well. I had seen how this puppy loved my son back to life. I saw my son go from a deep depression … to smiling and laughing again. My heart will forever be grateful to this sweet puppy for helping our family through that hard time.

God also used that little puppy to heal my heart. As my heart deeply grieved for my son because of all he had been through, and also throughout my dad’s cancer and another grief situation, that little puppy would lick the tears off of my face and get me to smile. He was just so intelligent and intuitive.

As time passed, the puppy seemed to make it his life mission to protect our family, deeply love our family, and it seemed that he wanted to show his gratitude to us for saving him out of his own terrible situation as much as he was helping us through our situation. I’d often look at our puppy and wonder, “who rescued who?”

Our puppy didn’t just love us, he loved us with his entire heart and being. When he would snuggle with us, it was like he was trying to melt his very body into our chests. He didn’t just want to be on our lap, he wanted to be as close to us as he possibly could be. Sometimes, he would snuggle into our necks and it would feel so soft and furry as he enveloped and intertwined his neck into ours. From the time he was a mere three pounds, all the way up to his full weight of 90 pounds, he loved being a lap dog!

When any of us would arrive home, he would greet us at the door and shake his entire body. His little wiggle was so cute! He’d be so happy to see us, that he would let out the sweetest cry as if to say, “Finally! You’re home! Come spend time with me!”… even if we had only been gone for 5 minutes to get our mail.

Our family had the most extraordinary relationship with this precious puppy. I never in my wildest dreams would ever have thought that a puppy could love us so much and that we would love a puppy as much as a human being. We enjoyed such a special bond!

That’s why it hurt so very bad when we found out he had cancer.

I also think one of the many reasons we loved him so much is because we had fought so hard even before the cancer to save him several times from euthanasia. One of his vets had requested three different times for us to have him euthanized. He had some behavioral issues that we had to correct in specialized training classes and his life medically was intense. He constantly had vet appointments because he had such terrible allergies and skin allergies due to not having his immune system built up (since he was taken away from his mom too soon). We poured a tremendous amount of care into him to keep him happy, healthy, and whole, even bottle feeding him when we first got him. Our love for him certainly developed as we took care of him.

When we found out he had cancer, we were beyond crushed! We were actually at one of his dog training classes when we first noticed something was amiss. The trainer thought our puppy had gotten some gravel embedded in his paw. He was limping but we couldn’t see any gravel. I wondered if maybe he had a sprain due to the agility work that he had done. He had just won 1st place at an agility competition…he loved his training classes and loved his agility work so much.

We took our puppy to the vet and they requested to keep our puppy and do x-rays. They called and asked us to come back in, so we did. The vet said she had very bad news. I was thinking she was just going to say he sprained or broke his paw and would need surgery. Instead, she told us he had a very aggressive cancer called osteosarcoma…and that he only had three months to live. I felt like I couldn’t breathe…did I really just hear what the vet had said? My son and I started crying. Even my husband (who isn’t very emotional) cried. We couldn’t believe what we were being told. How does a young, spritely, 2 year-old puppy get cancer? The vet explained he had old scarring in the paw that had the cancer and that it had never healed – and that’s how the cancer formed. I remembered right then what all the original vet had told us about the lady we got him from…I also remembered that the lady said she kicked our puppy away from the trash multiple times for getting into it. She said he had been nothing but trouble to her.

We ended up taking our puppy to two other vets – one, an oncologist – hoping to save him. The oncologist said that a popular drug that was prescribed to our puppy for his skin allergies was a major cancer causer as well. She said majority of her canine and feline patients had previously used this commonly prescribed medicine. She believed that his previously injured paw had been compromised, the cancer set in, and the drug accelerated the cancer.

Being told by the oncologist that our puppy’s cancer was preventable greatly upset me. I was very angry at the lady we got our puppy from for abusing him and I was also upset that a pet pharmaceutical company knew the high risk and incidents of cancer … yet still put the drug out — knowing it was going to harm pets. (My next post will share the dangers and solutions to creating the ultimate health for pets…especially in regards to cancer…we learned so much!)

We tried very hard to save our puppy. I truly believe we could have, but unfortunately, our puppy was exposed to a common virus that he just couldn’t beat. After showing great promise and rapidly getting better on the treatments we were giving him…he went downhill just as quick. We ultimately had to do the right thing for him…which was euthanasia. We owed it to him after everything he had done for family. We were not about to let him suffer.

We made the dreaded phone call every pet owner hates to make…we set up the appointment for his euthanasia.

As the time came for his euthanasia, I literally thought my heart was going to break. He continued a downward spiral, and it was heartbreaking. He was perfectly housebroken and crate trained…it literally only took me about two weeks to potty train him. He had a perfect record in our home. As I saw him “piddle” on the floor, he looked up at me and was so ashamed. It broke my heart that his dignity was compromised. He began sleeping a lot more. You’ll never know much I missed his energetic, fun-loving, spritely personality that he vibrantly spread all over our home.

He could no longer jump up on the couch, so he would quietly lay down on his bed and sleep. I would gently lay on the floor beside him, holding him – never wanting to let him go, and would kiss his cheek and head, as I sang his favorite songs to him (Penny Lane by The Beatles, I’ll Be Home For Christmas by Michael Bublé, and Ho Hey by the Lumineers…he would “sing” these songs anytime we played them).

The day of the euthanasia came, and my son and I decided that we were going to give his puppy the very best day of his life. We agreed that we were not going to show our sadness or have him around any crying.

We woke up and took my son’s puppy to all of his favorite places and let him eat all of his favorite foods that we’d previously let him only have a tiny bite of, as well as the bad food we never allowed him to eat. We also took him to get some toys and had one last photo session done at his favorite place – the park. We also snuggled with him a lot! We tried to give him the very best day possible and he was so very happy all day.

We picked up some sedatives from our vet the day before so he would be as calm and relaxed as possible when he arrived for his appointment.

We arrived at the appointment, expecting a calm, peaceful, and as gentle as possible euthanasia.

We received anything but that.

We arrived at the vet and was placed into a private room with our puppy. The vet also suggested that we bring our other dog who was extremely close to our puppy. We kept our third dog at home at the vet’s request. So the puppy, our other dog, my son, and I were all in this little room…and my husband was on FaceTime so he could also “be there” since he was out of town. The vet came in and explained how euthanasia works. The vet assured us that we would have time with our puppy before she stopped his heart with the final shot.

They then told us that they were about to take him to another room to insert an IV into his paw so they could administer the medications in that way. We had told them which paw had the cancer.

As they led our puppy to another room away from us, we heard him crying out in horrendous pain several times. It seriously made me wince.

After they brought him back into the room, to our horror, we saw that they had put his IV in his sore paw that had cancer. I can’t even imagine how excruciatingly painful that was for him to have a needle shoved into his tumor. Our puppy had been guarding that paw the last three months…he wouldn’t even allow us to touch it.

Our puppy at that point was highly anxious and was highly guarding his paw. After about 10 minutes of the vet and vet tech trying to force our dog to be okay with letting them touch his bad paw, I asked them to stop and asked if they could insert the IV in his good paw. They reluctantly did and our puppy came back looking hurt and worn out. He was also in defense mode. Instead of taking the time to calm our puppy down, the vet and vet tech ended up being rough with him. The vet on his right put one restraining leash on him and the vet tech on his other side put another restraining leash on him – our puppy was freaking out. It seriously reminded me of a video I had seen of a frightened, chained elephant on his hind legs trying to be controlled at a circus. As our puppy became more bewildered and confused, looking up at us as if to say, “why is this happening to me?” … the vet and vet tech slapped a muzzle on him.

We had never euthanized a pet, so in our shock, we didn’t know what to do.

In hindsight, I wish we had immediately called off the euthanasia, left, and went to another vet. Never having done this before though, we just didn’t know better. My guilt was excruciating in the days and months after the euthanasia. I felt like I had majorly let our puppy down.

The euthanasia got worse. My son and I were promised time with our puppy to say our goodbyes. We each wanted to have time to hold him while he was alive…to talk to him and snuggle him one last time.

Our wishes were totally not honored.

Thankfully, my son had gotten on the floor and was holding his puppy to comfort him…or our puppy would have died without feeling comfort, peace, or security.

The vet then administered all shots at the same time…and our puppy went limp within 20 seconds and was dead within a minute. I will never forget the loud cry my son made when he realized his dog – his very best friend who had been his everything the last 2 years – suddenly (and unexpectedly) went limp and died in his arms. When my son realized his dog was dead, and he didn’t get to say his goodbyes, my heart broke for him as I saw the anguish and regret in his face.

The vet then said to our deceased puppy, “you’ll never have to wear a muzzle again!” and walked out of the room. He had only worn a muzzle twice during his entire lifetime so I didn’t understand why she said something so heartless and thoughtless like that. As hard as my son was crying, and with my own face flooded with tears, the lack of empathy surprised me. The vet tech did come back in and apologized for what had transpired, but the damage was already done.

It was a bad situation. I know that the vet and vet tech are both very good at what they do, but I didn’t like how our puppy’s last moments in life were filled with pain, anxiety, and chaos…especially since we worked so hard to give him the very last gift we could give him – a peaceful life exit.

After we were left alone with our sweet puppy, I quietly said my goodbyes to him as I got on the floor and held him. As his death sunk in, I began to miss him so very much! I kissed his cheek and deeply inhaled the smell of his fur as I pressed my face into his soft neck. I told him “thank you” for loving my son back to life and for loving our family so very well. As I was leaving the room, my heart broke into a million pieces. I couldn’t handle the pain. I hugged my son and left the room so he could have time with his best friend to say his goodbyes.

This entire situation deeply broke our family’s hearts, and the regrets we felt in the days after the euthanasia were terrible.

It took me awhile to write this post because every time I’d start to write about this, I’d start crying. I cried today as I wrote it. There are some pets who make such an incredible impact in your heart and life that “goodbye” becomes truly unbearable.

Our family could never replicate the special relationship we built with this puppy because we deeply bonded with him during one of the toughest seasons of our lives. He kissed (licked) away our tears, brought us so much joy, and loved us so very well! God really blessed us when he gave us Titan!

I read a blog post right after our puppy died where the author said about her dog (a German Shepherd named Hugo): “To me, he was a person in a dog suit, a special being who opened my heart as it has never been opened before. Because of him, I know I am forever changed for the better.” ~Lisa Plummer Savas

When I read that, it brought tears to my eyes because that is exactly how I felt about our puppy…he was a person in a dog suit who opened my heart in a beautiful way that had never been opened before. He made our family – all of us – better. We loved better after knowing him. I used to not even like dogs. Now, I love and adore all animals! I “get it” now.

I truly hope our story helps others to not make the same mistakes we made…and to be very proactive if (and when) the time comes to euthanize your much-loved pet.

⭐️Here are my tips for creating a peaceful euthanasia:

1. Talk to the vet you would like to perform the euthanasia. Ask them what their protocol and timeline is…in great detail…for a euthanasia.

2. Ask the vet how long you can spend with your pet in between the shot that completely sedates them and the shot that actually stops their heart.

3. Ask for sedatives to give to calm your pet (before you leave to go to the appointment) so your pet will be most relaxed at the euthanasia. You usually pick these sedatives up the day before. The sedatives may also prevent your pet from twitching or taking a final deep breath which can startle you as your pet passes away.

4. Know that whatever outfit you wear to the euthanasia might remind you of that very sad day. I couldn’t wear the outfit I wore on the day of the euthanasia for almost a year…it was very painful to see that outfit.

5. Give your pet a super great “one last day.” It could be a day like I described or simply a quiet day at home enjoying your pet. Be sure to take pictures or have a photo session done with your pet. Whatever you think is a perfect, special day for your pet is what you should do. When I think back to our puppy’s last day of food, fun, and snuggles, my heart smiles at the joy he experienced. I’ll never forget how happy he looked all day, on his last day with us.

6. When you take your pet in to be euthanized, remind your vet about the conversation you had with them (when you talked to the vet about the amount of time you would have to spend with your pet, in between the two shots). Remind the vet and every tech you come into contact with of your wishes. When they administer the first shot, remind them again of your wish to have time with your pet before they are deceased.

7. Euthanize your pet on a Friday. You’ll have two whole days before you have to go back to work or school. Consider taking vacation days too. My boss was exceptionally kind to me…he had recently experienced his dog’s death and gave me three weeks off. He also said he’d extend it if needed. I will forever be grateful to him for being so understanding.

8. Consider where you want the euthanasia to take place. You can have your pet euthanized at the vet, inside your home, or at their favorite place in your backyard. In hindsight, I wish we had euthanized our puppy in his favorite place in our backyard and then planted a tree to remember him by.

9. Ask your vet what options you have for your deceased pet’s body. We were told we had the following options: allow the veterinarian office to dispose of his body…we could take him home and bury him…we could take him to a crematory…we could have our dog buried at a pet cemetery…or we could allow the vet’s office to take him to a crematory and they would return our puppy’s ashes to us for a fee. We ended up choosing the last option and selected a beautiful urn for his ashes. We wanted him home with us.

10. Consider what will be best for your emotions when you return home from the euthanasia: do you want your pet’s belongings to be out or do you want to pre-pack them and place them in a room, attic, or in your garage? We chose to leave them out where they had always been…but it was very painful to see all of his belongings once we got home – and realize he’d never be there again. I placed all of his belongings (his most loved toys, his favorite blanket, favorite bag of treats, all of his cancer/prescription meds/supplements, and his collar/leash inside his crate and shut the crate door so our other dogs wouldn’t get into any of it. I still have his crate out and finally feel – a year later – as though it’s time to move it into our attic. I had told our puppy every single night, “Goodnight little baby, I love you!”…it was comforting to still say that every night even though I knew he wasn’t there.

11. I greatly underestimated how upset and sad I’d be after our dog’s death. Consider having a trusted family member or trusted friend safely drive you home from the euthanasia. My mom and sister knew what vet we were going to and came up there unannounced right after the euthanasia. I was so very grateful that they showed up. It was really good to have their compassion and support.

12. Have some easy meals – easy to prepare or already prepared – for when you get home (pizza, cereal and milk, frozen waffles, fruit, soup, cheese and crackers, salad, etc.). You may not feel like eating, but if you do get hungry, you’ll appreciate having something quick and simple already prepared.

13. Sign any necessary paperwork and pay your bill before the euthanasia. Feel free to decide the aftercare after the euthanasia though. We decided the final plans for our puppy’s body right after he was euthanized. I’m thankful we waited until afterwards to decide his aftercare because we changed our minds. We considered having him be taken to a pet cemetery, but the finality of the situation hit and we decided we wanted his ashes at home with us.

14. Bring items you know will provide your dog with extra comfort…such as a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, and/or toy. Make the experience as comfortable as you possibly can.

15. Our vet said to bring our other dog. I really wish we hadn’t. Our other dog was super anxious and he didn’t handle it well. It brought a sadness to the mix that made the situation tougher. If you don’t bring other pets, you can exclusively focus and pour all of your attention onto the pet you are saying your goodbyes to.

16. Understand that your pet’s eyes may stay open after they die. They also may urinate or defecate after they pass away as well. We had our dog potty before we left the house and also right before we entered the vet’s building. We also wrapped our puppy in a comfy blanket too. We were not prepared for his eyes staying open after he died and the vet or the vet tech didn’t shut them. We didn’t expect that. Talk to your vet about these issues beforehand so you’ll know what to expect and to also prevent any unnecessary bad memories.

17. Realize that no matter what you do or how perfectly you plan your pet’s last days and euthanasia, you may experience extreme guilt. We did everything we could to save our puppy…got him the best care, loved him extremely well, gave him a fantastic life and wonderful last day, and took the time to pre-plan a perfect euthanasia where he’d be comfortable and at peace…yet we fell short. Guilt – and questions – haunted my heart for several months…”what if we had taken him to get a 4th vet’s opinion?”…”why didn’t we stop and leave the euthanasia after we saw how frightened he was?”…”could we have done more?”…”did we do the euthanasia too soon or did we do it too late into his cancer?”…”why didn’t I sleep in the living room with him the night before?”…”did we do everything we could have done?” My thoughts and guilt wouldn’t quit. It took me months to gain some much needed peace. The fact is, you can do all the right things, and plan as much as you can, but that in no way 100% assures that everything will go as planned or turn out as you hope it will. Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to fully grieve. Cry if you need to…I cried almost every day for 11 months since I missed him so very badly. Realize that your pet is so very grateful for the terrific life you gave them and how well you loved them! Please go easy on yourself and know that majority of pet owners will experience some very tough emotions…as well as guilt…after a euthanasia.

18. Remember the amazing love and incredible lessons you shared and received from your beloved pet…and know that your pet absolutely loved and adored you! If they could tell you “thank you” in a letter, it’d probably be 1000 pages long! You made their life so very meaningful…their best days were when they were with you!

19. After you euthanize your pet, consider planting a memorial tree or garden in their honor. You can also place a bench, chair, or hammock by the tree or garden so you can sit down and reflect on your time with your pet.

20. Take care of yourself and be gentle with your heart. Grief is extremely tough and can wreck havoc on your health. Take the time to intentionally relax. Do something that brings your heart peace and joy. Surround yourself with loved ones. Start a journal and write down your thoughts and feelings. If you live with a spouse, child, or your family, comfort and help each other. Most importantly, share your heart, grief, and feelings with God. God sure was faithful in helping me each and every day … especially on my worst days!

I’ll never forget that very extraordinary, sweet, exceptionally special, 90 pound fluffy fur baby of ours. He blessed our lives with so much love, fun, and joy! I’ll always remember him and love him!❤️🐶🐾

I hope this blog post and these 20 tips are helpful to all who read them. And I truly hope and pray that if you are in the heartbreaking position of having to plan your treasured pet’s euthanasia, that God will bless you and your pet’s last days together.

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): 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 #1

Throughout the next few weeks, I will be offering holiday tips that I hope will be encouraging and helpful to your heart.

After going through multiple family deaths, the holidays became a very painful and challenging time for my family and me.

As I share (in these next holiday posts) what my family and I have learned through the process of creating special, meaningful, and eventually enjoyable holidays again – in spite of grief – I hope all who read these helpful tips will be encouraged and comforted!

Grief can definitely make the holidays excruciatingly painful to get through…but there truly is hope.

Having experienced the death of family members on major holidays (Thanksgiving and Easter) and the day after Valentine’s Day and day before Christmas, I truly understand how challenging holidays can be.

To be honest, I never thought our family would ever have the ability to enjoy these particular holidays again…ever…but we finally were able to after navigating through tremendous grief.

My first holiday tip is:

Grieve how you need to grieve and be kind to your heart.

Do not put on yourself the extra pressure of having the “perfect” holidays.

Just like you are having to create a “new normal” in day-to-day life, you may need to create a “new holiday season” – or the freedom to do holidays differently for a season, too.

Creating a “new normal” doesn’t make anything “normal“…oh, how I hate that word…yet I like to compare “creating new normals” to inflating a life raft: it doesn’t make anything immediately better, but it can prevent a griever from completely drowning.

When going through grief, holidays can lose their previous joy, sparkle and specialness.

•Holiday meals can be excruciating since a much-loved family member is no longer here to enjoy loved ones, the meal, or the holiday. Their presence is sorely missed!

• Suddenly, the tree that used to shine bright holding treasured ornaments and memories can now bring about intense sadness.

• Baking treats and making favorite dishes you used to bake or make for a loved one who is no longer here can now bring about incredible heartache.

• Old familiar traditions can now bring intense pain or anxiety.

• Certain Christmas songs can be tied to a special memory, remind you of a loved one, or can bring sudden tears out of nowhere.

• And seeing happy couples and cheerful families—on social media or in real life—can bring about feelings of depression, hopelessness, anger, or maybe even envy.

The holidays can be a huge reminder of the great treasure you lost.

It is very painful navigating through the holidays when going through the death of a loved one, adultery or divorce, miscarriage/infertility, financial or job loss, family/marital/stepfamily conflict, physical or mental illness of a loved one, addiction issues, family rebellion or estrangement, illness, or other painful losses.

…And it can be extra painful and burdensome when family and friends do not understand or don’t agree with how you are handling your grief.

Explain to family and friends how the holidays are going to be tough on you and lovingly ask for their help, support, love, understanding and compassion.

Some grievers may be able to do all of their usual holiday traditions, while others may not…BOTH are perfectly fine!

Pray about and consider what you need to do, or not do, this holiday season and come to a place of peace about it.

It doesn’t mean it will always be like this…(just because you choose something this year doesn’t mean it will be cemented forever)…it simply means you are doing what you need to do THIS holiday season to make it through the holidays.

Communication is key! Talk about your plans and how you are feeling with your loved ones, to avoid hurt feelings or conflict.

Compromise may be needed when choosing what to do (and not do) during the holidays…but it is important to grieve however you need to grieve.

Ideally, it is best to come to decisions where your grief is genuinely honored…while also factoring in honoring your time with remaining loved ones.

Just like there is no such thing as “cookie cutter” grief, not every griever or family will handle the holidays the exact same way either. Each must communicate and find what’s best for their own individual family. It may include fully celebrating holidays as usual…or changing things up a little…or beginning a few new traditions…or completely changing everything this year…or going out of town, on a vacation, or to visit family who live out of town for a change of scenery. There are many ways to create a peaceful, meaningful holiday during times of grief.

If you have family and friends who love you, support you, and encourage you, what an amazing, incredible gift that truly is! Be sure to thank them for all of the ways they bring encouragement, meaning, and love to your life.

Grief is so unique and personal – and affects so many facets of your life – it isn’t a cookie-cutter experience. It’s a journey that is between God and you – and, at times, those you live with.

Grief isn’t designed for everyone to have input or an opinion about it.

…You don’t “get over it”…

…You can’t go around it…

…You can’t fly above it…

…You have to go through it…

…And there isn’t an ending to grief while on earth because grief will resurface from time to time. As long as there is love, grief will lovingly linger…because love doesn’t die.

Yes, grieve however you need to grieve and be kind to your heart. As long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others…and you’re not hurting the heart of God…your grief is totally appropriate.

I am praying everyone who is going through a sad or tough time will have a meaningful holiday season. And I truly hope everyone is surrounded by understanding and caring loved ones who will offer encouragement and kindness the next few weeks.

It can take time to find a new holiday normal, so please don’t be hard on yourself. It takes time, effort, and grace to work out a broken heart and to pick up the pieces of a shattered life.

Grief can be excruciatingly heartbreaking during the holidays, but through genuinely remembering and honoring your treasured deceased loved ones, honoring your grief, and showing love to your remaining loved ones – while working through your grief – holidays can hold great joy again…in time!

I wish each of you a peaceful Christmas season that is filled with comfort, encouragement, and hope.

With God’s help, the holidays can be meaningful again.

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.

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.

💗