Tag Archive | traditions after loss


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.

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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.