I think that when something devastating happens, as humans, we find the need to make an effort to comfort the person who is hurting. I think that this desire to help people is wonderful, but I also think that so many times, this attempt at helping actually minimizes what the individual is really going through.
Things happen in life that are terrible, and this past week, my heart broke in a way that it never had before. It was senseless and as much as I try to wrap my head around it, I find myself not able to comprehend it, even now.
I want to talk about it, but people fear death, and the response that too many people offer is:
“I guess everything happens for a reason.”
I am not the first person who has been on the receiving end of this statement, and I am not going to be the last person to hear it either.
Saying that everything happens for a reason is a bit like putting a band aid on an arterial bleed.
It doesn’t help.
Saying that “everything happens for a reason” is a great way of removing yourself from the pain that the person who is suffering an immense loss has to experience. It can also make the person who is mourning feel like their sadness is not valid as they should be celebrating because this is all part of some greater plan.
My life is not part of some greater plan. Life isn’t.
People don’t die at five years old to teach the world a lesson.
Teenagers don’t die to teach people that each and every day matters.
People don’t die in car accidents on the way to Christmas dinner to teach us to say I love you more. People don’t get sick to function as your inspiration.
There is not a reason for everything, though we try to formulate them. It’s human nature to need to understand, and human nature to seek comfort in this understanding, but sometimes, we just need validation for how we feel.
Rather than hearing that everything happens for a reason, because there is no real reason for this. I’d rather hear you tell me that you have no clue why what happened happened, and I’d rather you be honest with me.
Speak to me gently, tell me that it is okay to cry, that this is terrible, and terrifying and that you don’t know what to say.
I’d rather just sit with you in silence than try to wrap my head around a reason for something that doesn’t exist.
It’s rather lonely to feel as though you cannot grieve.
Certain things in life just happen, and they can’t be fixed by simple words, they can only be carried. Yes, we can learn from them, but they did not happen to teach us something. Bad things happen, and that’s all.
They just happen.
Instead of forcing the human who is grieving to come up with a reason for their devastating loss, instead just hold them, and say instead:
“I acknowledge your pain. I’m here with you.”
And then just be there, and hold them.