I was practically clapping and cheering in my seat as I read an article the other day. It was titled:
Everything Doesn't Happen For A Reason and it articulated a lot of what I have felt since becoming a widow.
Growing up Lutheran, I believed that everything happened for a reason, and that reason was God's will. That was ingrained in my head and I believed it without reason to question. Having a relatively tragedy-free childhood, that belief was never challenged.
Now that I have been through not only my loss, but heard of others as well, the saying "Everything happens for a reason" is like acid on my heart. I don't buy it. How can there be a logical reason why a person as caring, driven and kind as Warren is gone? What reason can possibly make sense?
I heard that so many times during the wake, funeral and weeks after Warren died, and I was thinking too foggily to respond appropriately. But that didn't stop it from being one of the more painful things I ever heard. It implies that there is a reason greater than logic, greater than love, greater than what Warren and I deserved, greater than what everyone who loved Warren deserved. I could not - will not accept that as truth.
That statement is hurtful even when it does not apply to me. How can a mother watching her child suffer from illness believe that there is a purpose more potent than her love and will and protect her child? How does that statement bring comfort to someone who is in pain, wondering how they are going to survive a tragedy or horrible incident?
Do the refugees of war sleep better at night knowing that their loss and suffering have a purpose they may never know? Do rape victims feel safer because their pain was for a reason that perhaps they can learn and grow from?
In times of hurt, people often want to find a scapegoat, but we know deep down that it will not bring comfort. Implying that we should be looking for a silver lining in the face of devastation diminishes our healing process. Part of the process involves questioning why the hurtful incident happened, but I am willing to bet there hasn't been a reason offered that feels satisfactory to the person asking. There are more sensitive ways to offer support to the grieving because to us, there is no reason great enough to justify the pain of our loss. All the reasons in the world do no lessen the blow of the tragedy, and trying to explain it away only devalues something that is of utmost importance.
Please, the next time you are looking for the words to comfort someone who is in pain, grieving, scared, or in need of some form of healing do NOT invalidate them by telling them that there is some greater purpose for their suffering. If you're at a loss for words, say that. If you are scared for them, share your feelings. If words fail you hug them.