Poor Counsel #1:
"You should keep your distance from people for a time so you can really grieve. "
When someone is really overwhelmed in a trial it can be difficult to know how to be around them. Because of this many people assume incorrectly that the grieving person needs to be alone during their pain. One of the ways that Christ comforts his flock is through his body - the church. Romans 12:15 reminds us that we should "weep with those who weep." Jesus Christ demonstrated this kind of compassion when he wept with Mary and Martha over their loss (John 11:35). You may be well intentioned when you tell your friend to grieve alone but you are taking away his best grief support - the church.
Poor Counsel #2:
"Take as long as you need to heal from your pain before ministering to other people."
The best way to heal from the pain of a tremendous loss or a difficult trial is to reach out and minister to other people that you come into contact with. Ministry forces you to think more about the needs of others than your own personal pain. The best advice you can give to your hurting friend is to teach him how he can use his trial to help other people. 2 Corinthians 1:4 tells us that God "comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." Counsel your friend to be purposeful not powerless in the midst of his darkest time.
Poor Counsel #3:
"Your Problem is Sin . . . Stop it!"
It's very possible that the trial that your friend finds himself in is a result of some sin he may have committed. Even if this is the case you need to remember that your goal is to get your friend to view his situation through the lens of Scripture. You want your friend to think of himself as God sees him. Biblically your friend can't just stop sinning by himself. Furthermore, the Bible demonstrates that every trial is not a result of sin. Be careful to not to condemn before you know the facts.
Poor Counsel #4:
"You have grieved long enough, it's time to move on."
No counselor or friend would ever come out and actually say this but it can be implied. We imply this by simply changing the conversation when our friend brings up his trial or by ceasing to seek to comfort our grieving friend. The brutal nature of grief forces you to live one day at a time. If your friend has experienced a profound loss this will stay with him for the rest of his life. Grief is a lot more unusual than we think. It does not follow a logical course of a predictable timetable. Instead of trying to get him to move on teach him to rely on God more and more each day.
Poor Counsel #5:
"Since you were grieving at the time you aren't responsible for your hurtful words or actions."
Since we are all human we all are prone to react negatively when we experience pain or loss. Often in grief we don't think clearly about what we are doing. As a result we let down our guard and behave in ungodly ways at times. The truth is that our most common sin when we are hurting is to hurt other people. By "hurts" I am referring to the intentional or unintentional actions and words that hurting people can often do. These hurts are normally directed at those who are closest to the hurting person. When you are trying to help your friend it is absolutely necessary that you point out the hurtful actions and words he uses. There is never a good excuse to sin. If you are going to help your friend you must be willing to confront.
Posted by Caleb