Tag Archive | traditions after loss

Relief From Grief

Throughout my grief journeys, I’ve always purposely ensured I take the time to care for myself – spirit, mind, heart, body, and soul.

I also have trained myself to continue pursuing my hobbies and interests during these tough times (even if I don’t feel up to it) because they offer a way to blow off steam, relax, or create enjoyment … which is so very needed during times of grief.

I call these times, “My relief from grief.”

Some of my favorite things to do are: spend time with God, my loved ones, and our family’s dogs, take time for self improvement (read, reflect, plan / implement self-improvement, journal), watch a good movie, go get a great cup of coffee, sit by the fire and listen to some good acoustic music, go lift weights, do tae kwon do, go on a run, listen to my favorite music playlists, cook/bake, and go to the shooting range to shoot guns. All of these have the ability to improve my mood greatly!

During a few grief experiences, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything. Life and grief had knocked me down…and I initially just felt like tapping out and doing absolutely nothing.

After awhile though, I knew that wasn’t the life I wanted to live. I’ve always thought of life as the greatest gift and best adventure. I didn’t want to waste the precious gift of life, the time I could be spending with my remaining loved ones, or the time I have here on earth.

I knew I had to embrace my grief and find a new strength so I’d have the ability to grow through my heartache and eventually press forward.

It’s painful pressing forward and creating a new normal. As you do so, you realize you’re taking steps forward away from the previous pre-grief life you once knew and lived. With each new memory made, you know that your loved one wasn’t there to be a part of the memory. It feels wrong.

I didn’t like the feeling of embracing my grief and eventually pressing forward at all … but I also knew I was hideously miserable staying stagnant. I also knew my loved ones loved seeing my smile and joy while they were here on earth – just as much as I loved seeing their smiles and joy while they were here with me– and I know they’d never want me to stay continually or permanently depressed.

So I chose to get up.

I remember someone telling me, “Every day you wake up, immediately make your bed and go wash your kitchen sink.”

I thought this advice was odd, but I committed to doing those two things.

The first day I cleaned my sink, I could’ve probably cleaned the sink with just my tears. They were heavily dripping from my face.

Then as the days went by, I found myself crying less, and I felt much stronger. It’s ridiculous, but doing those two small things really made a big difference.

Seeing how much relief simply making a bed and cleaning a sink created, I decided to do more activities…even though my emotions weren’t into it.

When you go through a tough grief experience, it’s truly like you’ve been born into a new life…and you have to learn how to navigate everything around you all over again.

You navigate through the tough terrain of raw, unpredictable emotions…through the toughest days of your life…through the times you literally feel as though you can’t breathe…to learning how to live without the loved one(s) that you absolutely adored, loved, cherished, treasured, and enjoyed. You navigate through the sinking quicksand of all of the dreaded “firsts” too: the birthdays (theirs and yours), the holidays, special occasions, important events, anniversaries, vacations, and the incredibly dreaded anniversary of the death date.

It’s a true suckfest.

But then you start to realize that you don’t have to permanently say, “goodbye”…you have the choice to instead say, “I’ll see you later.”

You can find relief from your grief not just by merely investing in your own hobbies, but you can incorporate their favorite hobbies and enjoy doing some of their favorite activities in their memory and honor, too.

You also find that you don’t have to be sad when you talk about your loved one…you can fondly remember – and even smile, find joy, and laugh about– all of the fantastic, fun, and heartfelt memories you will forever hold in your heart!

Ultimately, I know my loved ones greatest wish for me (as well as their wish for all of their other loved ones) is the exact same thing I’d want for my loved ones when my time comes: they want for each of us to be happy, healthy, inspired, and whole.

And a part of feeling happy, healthy, inspired, and whole is finding activities that bring much needed relief from grief.

What activities and hobbies bring – or previously brought – your heart joy?

Which activities or hobbies of your treasured loved one would you enjoy doing in their honor and memory? What activity do you think they’d recommend you do?

What ways can you find relief from your grief this week?

Each week (or month), set aside four special appointments/times: one to do something special with just God…one for just you to do a hobby you love…one to do an activity in your loved one’s honor…and one to do something special with your remaining loved ones.

Obviously, grief will still be present as you do these activities, but as I started to do these activities, I imagined my grief was a ball. I’d set the “ball” down before I left to go invest in these four specific appointments, knowing I’d pick the ball back up once I returned.

Finding relief from your grief can truly be one of the very best gifts of strength you can give to yourself during tough times.

I know it’s been one of the best gifts I’ve given to myself during my times of grief!

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:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

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Grief & Holidays ~ helpful tip #1

(This was originally published on this blog (Grief Bites) a few years ago. I’m just reposting it since it’s the holidays)

Throughout the Christmas season, I’ll be offering encouraging tips on how to get through the holidays during times of grief.

After going through multiple family deaths on or around holidays, the holidays became a very painful and challenging time. As I share what my family and I have learned through the process of creating special, enjoyable, and meaningful 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 very challenging to get through…but there truly is hope.

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

My first holiday tip is:

Grieve how you need to grieve and be kind to yourself. 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 normal,” or the freedom to do holidays differently for a season as well. Creating new normals doesn’t make anything (or return anything back to) normal. I like to think of and compare “creating new normals” to an inflated inter tube…it doesn’t make anything immediately better, but it will keep a griever from completely drowning.

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

• 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…even anxiety or depressed feelings

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

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

It is very painful navigating through the holidays when going through the loss 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, or other painful losses.

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

Explain to family and friends that the holidays are going to be tough on you and lovingly ask them for their help, support, 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.

Communication is key! Talk about it with your loved ones, to avoid hurt feelings or conflict. Some compromise may also be needed when choosing what to do (and not do) during the holidays. 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 just a little…or beginning some 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 special, meaningful holiday during times of grief.

If you have family and friends who love you, support you, and encourage you, what an amazing gift that truly is! Be sure to thank them for any way they bring encouragement, meaning, and love to your life!

I am praying for everyone who is going through a sad or tough time to have a meaningful holiday season – and I truly hope everyone is surrounded by understanding and caring family and friends who will encourage you this month.

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.

The first few years are the absolute hardest, but through genuinely remembering and honoring your treasured deceased loved ones, honoring your grief situation, showing love to your remaining loved ones, and working through your grief, holidays can hold great joy again…in time!

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): softcover and hardcopy – http://www.barnesandnoble.com or for $3.19 eBook – https://www.christianbook.com

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief
ible.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

🎄❤️🎄

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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

❤️

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, 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Christmas church service, 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 they avoid seeing them altogether. Please let them know you care. An invitation will 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, and simply let them know someone truly cares. No words necessary…just be truly, genuinely caring and be 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 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:
⭐️ <u
p://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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617

⭐️FREE YouVersion reading plan:

Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays🎄❤️🎄

When Mother’s Day Hurts…

Mother’s Day: a day filled with warm memories, joy, flowers, Hallmark cards, and celebrating moms everywhere, right?

Unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone.

There are many who will enter Mother’s Day with a heavy heart of grief, confusion, lost hopes, disappointment, intense sadness, and regrets:

  • some have experienced the death of their beloved mother
  • some moms are desperately missing their much treasured child who died
  • some have experienced a miscarriage or stillborn birth
  • some have never had the ability to have children
  • some have regretted having an abortion
  • some have placed their child up for adoption
  • some have a very tumultuous relationship with their mom; some moms have a broken relationship with their child(ren)
  • some adult children allow their spouse to keep them away from their mom; some moms allow their spouse to interfere in their relationship with their children
  • some realize that this is the last Mother’s Day they’ll have with their mom or child due to age or illness
  • some mothers have written their child off; some children have written their mother out of their life
  • some moms will not get to spend time with their child(ren) due to custody issues
  • some moms will not see their child due to military duty, travel for work, or they don’t live close by; some children will be missing their moms due to deployment, work duties, or location
  • some were adopted or raised by an aunt, grandmother, family member, or friend and are missing their mother deeply due to death, circumstances, or location
  • some have mothers or children who are incarcerated
  • some have mothers who have alzheimer’s or dementia who do not remember their children
  • some are stepmoms with stepchildren who are less than kind and vice versa
  • some moms feel rejected, uncared about, or unloved…some won’t even be acknowledged or appreciated

There are many heartbreaking situations and reasons why this Mother’s Day will be less than ideal and very heartbreaking for so many people.

Life, and holidays, can be excruciatingly unfair and painful. It can be difficult to see others who still have their moms with them…those who have all their children…those who were blessed enough to become a mom…or to see happy families when you are in devastating heartache and pain.

Here are some tips of how to show compassion to all who are discouraged, hurting, or dreading Mother’s Day:

  1. Show compassion and concern. Ask how they are doing, tell them you are thinking about them, and ask what you can do to make their day better.
  2. Realize how hard the day will be for them and go out of your way to make them feel special. Ask if they’d like to go out for brunch. Send or give them a card, buy them a special gift, ask to make them dinner or ask if they’d mind if you had dinner delivered to them, or buy them some beautiful flowers.
  3. Invite them to a movie, out to dinner, or out for coffee. Let them freely talk about whatever they’d like to talk about…without judgment and without unsolicited advice. Sometimes, it helps to have somebody genuinely care who will compassionately listen. Ask them to share something special about their mom or their child(ren).
  4. Acknowledge their loss and heartache. Mention their loved one by name and tell them what their loved one meant to you. You won’t be hurting them by bringing up their name…trust me, their loved one will be on their heart and mind all day.
  5. If you have a vacation home or extra timeshare points, offer to give them the gift of a weekend getaway.
  6. If you know of someone who is hurting, invite them to church and/or invite them to spend the day with you. Include them in all your plans for the day or a portion of the day.
  7. Think of a special way to remember your family members and friends’ moms, child(ren), or loved one. Light a candle in their mom or child’s honor, or help to decorate their loved one’s grave with flowers or items you know they would’ve liked. Do something you know they would’ve loved.
  8. Love them! They do not need a lecture on how they should feel or what they should do — and they definitely do not need to be told to “move on,” or “get over it.” They need people in their life who allow them the beautiful freedom to miss and deeply mourn the treasured person they are grieving, missing, and deeply love.
  9. If someone you know has a difficult relationship with their mom or child, reach out to them. Tell them you’re thinking about them by calling them, making them a gift basket, giving them a card, or by inviting them to do something that gets their mind off of their struggles.
  10. If you know of a military mom, send her a care basket. Be sure to send letters from her kiddos and photos, too. If able, set up a time to FaceTime or Skype as well. If there is a mom whose husband is deployed, consider doing something sweet for her too!

What if you are the one who is hurting? Here are some creative ideas of how to get through the day:

  1. Pamper yourself. Clear your schedule and remove any uncomfortable expectations others may place on you. Take a day off and do whatever makes you feel calm, relaxed, happy, or peaceful.
  2. Take some time to look at photos or home videos of your mom, child, or loved one. As you look at each one, remember the special bond and incredible memories you shared together.
  3. Take the day to journal or make a special scrapbook of your loved one and all the wonderful memories you shared together.
  4. Write a letter to your mom, child, or loved one and share what’s on your heart and mind.
  5. Spend the day doing what you normally would’ve done if your loved one was here…or go to a place that was special to the two of you. Know that your loved one loves you so very much, they want you to experience love, encouragement and comfort.
  6. Celebrate your loved one or honor your loved one’s memory by having a “garden day.” Plant a tree or some special flowers in their memory and create a beautiful space where you can go in days to come to celebrate or remember your loved one. You could also make a pathway out of memory stones or buy a special bench, hammock, or chair to enjoy in their memory.
  7. Have a relaxing movie day by either going to a movie or ordering take-out and renting movies that will make you feel closer to your loved one. Don’t forget yours & their favorite movie snacks and a comfy blanket.
  8. Invite others who are missing their mom or child to do something fun or meaningful. It truly helps to be around others who “get it.”
  9. Have a day of “writing & learning”: writing letters of gratitude to those who have had a positive impact on your life..it could be a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, child, family member, pastor, schoolteacher, friend, etc. If you have children, or nieces and nephews, be sure to share the warm memories and stories with them and teach them what was taught to you.
  10. Consider spending the day doing a relaxing hobby and including others in your day. I had a teacher who took a special interest in me by teaching me how to make pies, and I also was taught to bake by my mom and sister. I really enjoyed investing in this hobby and teaching my younger family members how to bake, too.
  11. Attend a church service with family or friends…or go by yourself and have a “God day” where you spend the entire day with just God and you. Go to a park and have a picnic lunch, lay in a hammock while listening to music, read your Bible and pray. Pray for everybody in your life. Share with God everything that is on your heart. “God days” are very refreshing and can set you up for a much better week!
  12. Last, but not least, make Mother’s Day whatever you would like for it to be. You may feel comfortable doing the usual familiar traditions that have been passed down to you…you may wish to spend and enjoy the day with your remaining loved ones…or you may want to create brand new memories, traditions, and experiences. Go out of town, take a day trip, and/or do something relaxing or special. Surround yourself with love. Pour into others. Encourage others who are hurting. There are many ways you can choose to celebrate or remember your treasured mother, precious child, or loved one, and many ways to remember or celebrate the day.

God loves you and cares about every intricate detail of your heart and life. He wants to help you pick up the pieces of your shattered life and help you to rebuild it. It may not be the exact life we signed up for or wanted, but God can help us realize that life is still an adventure worth highly valuing. Take the time you need to create a “new normal”…it takes time and it is totally okay to break down or be disappointed as you press forward. Learn new things each and every day. Learn from past mistakes and always look for better ways to live life. Look for and secure the support you need from family and friends…tell them what you need. Feel what you need to feel.

To experience the death of a mother or child is excruciating. Be kind to your heart and do whatever you have to do to get through the day.

To every mom, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, aunt, sister, niece, and woman in the world, I wish you a wonderfully beautiful, relaxing, and highly blessed Mother’s Day! Thank you for all of the ways you make (and have made) the world a wonderful and better place! You are so incredibly valuable, special, and unique and life wouldn’t be the same to your loved ones had they not had you in their lives! Pamper yourself this weekend—you deserve it!

Wishing everybody an incredibly peaceful, blessed, comfortable, and memorable Mother’s Day! Allow yourself the freedom to do whatever brings you comfort and makes your heart smile!

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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/

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

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

🌼FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

💕

Honoring Loved Ones Through Traditions, Kindness, & Encouragement

“Grief starts to become indulgent, and it doesn’t serve anyone, and it’s painful. But if you transform it into remembrance, then you’re magnifying the person you lost and also giving something of that person to other people, so they can experience something of that person.” ~Patti Smith

 

I saw this great quote today and really loved it!

If anyone has read my book, Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You, then it is clearly known that I am a big advocate for remembering and honoring special loved ones who have passed away.

After my sister died from a short 3 week illness on Thanksgiving Day, I was absolutely despondent…it went beyond depression. We were best friends while growing up and did everything together. After she got married, I still talked to her on the phone every day and saw her several times a week. After she died, I felt her absence in an indescribably painful way.

The things we used to do together that we once greatly enjoyed, now brought intense heartache…and we did most everything together, so her death completely rocked my world.

One of the things we loved to do together was bake…we had always baked treats together since we were in elementary school. In fact, at the time of her death, we were planning on opening a home based bakery and candy making business.

The night before my sister died, I had two choices: go visit her in the hospital or go home to bake some of her favorite Thanksgiving treats to surprise her with at the hospital the next day.

I chose the latter…and regretted it for many years. I had no idea how sick she truly was and I truly despised myself for not choosing to go see her. The guilt and regret haunted me for years, so much that I specifically chose to not make the items I had baked for her ever again.

One day, years later, a thought came to mind…my sister would not want me to be overcome with guilt or regrets. She loved life and she would want me to do the same. She was in Heaven and was totally not upset at all. What once may have upset her on earth doesn’t upset her now in Heaven. She understood I was trying to do something nice for her…and she knew that if I was given all the facts, I would have instantly chosen to go see her and spend as much time with her as I could.

Grief truly teaches you powerful lessons. One of my greatest lessons was to put people first, above everything else.

After realizing that had I known better, I would have chosen better, I made the important decision to honor my sister’s life through doing things she enjoyed while on earth…and one of those things was to continue baking. I decided I was going to honor my sister’s memory by blessing other people with baked goods.

That very day, I made all four of the items I had made for my sister and brought them to a family dinner that my sister’s young daughters attended. The next day, I made the four items again and gave them to people who I knew were having a tough time in life. I found that I could honor my sister through encouraging others with the gift of baked goods.

I couldn’t believe how healing it was. It brought so much healing and freedom to my grief recovery that I wrote an entire chapter about it in my book and I frequently speak about this very topic at grief seminars.

Enjoying life through traditions and honoring loved ones was key to breaking through my greatest monumental grief plateaus.

 

Today, if you are greatly missing your loved one, consider doing an activity you once enjoyed together, a kind deed for someone, or offer encouragement in your loved one’s honor.

Choosing to bake treats for people who I sense are going through grief, especially around the holidays, is something I now enjoy doing.

Sometimes, I’ll anonymously pay for someone’s coffee behind me at Starbucks in my loved one’s honor.

I also go to a mexican restaurant every year on my sister’s birthday…and have a GREAT time in her honor.

Every Christmas, our family gets dressed up in pajamas and go look at Christmas lights together in honor of the tradition my dad started before he died.

 

I have my own post-grief  life filled with my own original activities and traditions, and I choose to not stay stagnant in the past, but I also enjoy incorporating old traditions and things I previously enjoyed doing with my loved ones too. It is a meaningful way to say, “You meant a lot to me. Thank you so much for all of our good memories together. I loved you then and I still love you now so I am going to honor and continue to remember you.”

 

Sometimes, it can be difficult for grievers to honor their loved one(s) if there are guilt and regrets involved or if there were problems that were not worked out before a loved one’s death.

There have been times that I have had to forgive myself so I was able to press forward through my grief. Choosing to work out my guilt and regrets has truly been heart and life transforming.

We all make mistakes, and we all could forever dwell on the things we did wrong, but that ultimately accomplishes nothing. It just creates and brings about further loss and heartache.

Transforming our thoughts to think of all of the things we did right, how well we did love our loved ones, remembering all of the good times, and thinking of ways we can honor our loved one(s) is much more beneficial.

It is so important to remember that our loved ones do not harbor any negative feelings towards us. They completely forgive us.

We can stay stagnant in guilt and regrets or we can choose to bless another person, and our own hearts, by making a difference in the lives of others.

Through offering kindness and encouragement to others who are going through loss, you truly can make a difference.

I can’t think of a better way to truly honor my loved ones. I think they’d be very happy to know that I learned powerful life lessons through their deaths, that I still choose to enjoy the activities I once enjoyed with them…and I choose to thoroughly enjoy life itself…and that I choose to make the world a better place by encouraging others in their honor.