Everything Happens for a Reason — Or, How to Sound Uncaring to Those Facing Significant Trauma

February 6, 2014  |  Mesothelioma

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Right. Got it. Everything happens for a reason…

How is a grieving person supposed to respond to that? To think about that?

Everything happens for a reason.

Death. A fatal cancer diagnosis. Loss of a child.

The truth is, life is uncertain. We cannot predict whether it will rain on our wedding day or whether our life savings will be safe in the stock market. We cannot predict much of anything, in fact — and this fact is even more certain when it comes to the things that matter most.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. But that does not mean that bad things happen for a good reason.

Religious faith aside (and we believe in faith – especially when facing cancer!), “everything happens for a reason” is more cliché then truth.

Most of the time we say the phrase just because we’ve heard it said many times, and because it sounds nice and because, on the other side of the those-who-have-just-experienced-bad-things line, we kind of want to believe it is true.

But how does this simple phrase sound to someone who is hurting? What about someone just diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma?

We’ll tell you how it sounds: uncaring, cold, detached.

So what’s a better way to speak to a loved one who is grieving, whether it is the result of mesothelioma or some other cancer or crisis?

How about something closer to the truth: “I can’t imagine what you are going through.”

Because you can’t.

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