Over the years, I have heard the phrase “everything happens for a reason.” Anytime something has not worked out as planned, that is the comforting mantra that is given.
I have a difficult time with that phrase. I am not one of those people who believe that everything happens for a reason. It is nice to say when a job you were really hoping to get was given to someone else, or the home loan you were this close to getting fell through.
But what happens when something truly devastating happens to someone? Offering that kind of platitude doesn’t seem right. Or accurate. I can’t imagine that it is appropriate to tell a loved one, or even a stranger that “everything happens for a reason” when their child dies, or they are in a horrible accident, paralyzed for life. No matter your belief system, it is difficult to believe that a loving God, or a benevolent universe that seems to have your best interest at heart would purposefully send some devastation your way so that you can learn a great life’s lesson.
However, I do believe that we can take these devastating moments, and create meaning and value for ourselves. We can find some lesson to learn, some way in which we can grow and become stronger. We can take that tremendous hurt, and become our strongest selves. We can acknowledge that this thing happened, and it truly sucks, and maybe there is no rhyme or reason for it, other than a universe given to chance and random occurrences that we live with every day.
That is what I try to help my patients with; acknowledging that this devastation has caused them pain. Sometimes enormous, lifelong pain that they will have to deal with. I don’t tell them everything happens for a reason. But I can be there to support them in their journey and in their fight; their fight to create something new, to grow up out of the weeds. I can assist in reducing their pain as they recover, and help them to achieve greater clarity as they move forward to something better in their lives.