Category Archives: The Counselor

What Words Do You Say To A Grieving Friend?

On this past Sunday, November 5, 2017, Patrick Devin Kelley walked into Sutherland Springs Baptist Church (TX) during worship, and, and with an AR-15 rifle, killed 26. A neighbor, hearing gunfire, returned with a rifle, wounded Kelly twice, and forced him to flee. … Continue reading

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Job’s Resilience: Social Support

                       At his lowest point, Job pleads with God to die. When his three friends hear of his tragedies,  they meet together and come to him to console him.  With … Continue reading

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Minimizing Another’s Grief and Loss

“Life can’t be that bad,” I said, in response to a patient who no longer wanted to live. I had tried to reduce her despondency; I didn’t want her to take her life. I felt somewhat surprised, therefore, to hear her … Continue reading

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Why do People Change the Subject from Grief and Loss?

Recently a woman whose son in his mid-20’s died. In her lengthy blogs, she complains about some people in her life who didn’t want to hear her grief. Her son’s death was recent, within the month; he also had an … Continue reading

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True Friendship

After many years of separation, one of my long-time friends in ministry and I took a walk at at convention after the end of our daily sessions. We talked about one particular subject when it became obvious that our views … Continue reading

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Respecting the Sufferer

Untrained and/or inexperienced counselors use several strategies to keep sufferers at a distance. They need to do this to remain “safe” from the pain engendered by what they hear. When they hear of tragedy, they rush to help, but as … Continue reading

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Counseling the Sufferer: Consider the Impact of Your Words

As a pastoral counselor in training, I said something to a psychiatric hospital patient that appalled my supervisor. He asked me in our group supervision, why I said such a thing. My answer sounded hollow even to me.  “Now, when … Continue reading

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Helping the Sufferer: Giving Advice II

Like most “rules,” we find exceptions. When I last discussed offering our advice to someone distressed (2/15/13), I made the point that it’s usually premature. Giving premature advice comes from our sense of helplessness–indeed, our very real helplessness. There are … Continue reading

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Helping the Sufferer: Giving a Beatitude

When our friend opens up to us about their suffering, although we don’t intend to, we risk making their suffering worse.  We try our hardest to listen, but their experience may not fit with our preconceived ideas about how life … Continue reading

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Helping the Sufferer: Seeing with “Expert” Eyes

When we focus on our message as comforters, it’s easy to wander into uncharted territory with words that wound. We may think we’ve got the perfect answer for someone in trouble; we may think we’ve analyzed their situation to a … Continue reading

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