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Joanne

Good post on NOT saying "everything happens for a reason"

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In the case of a non-tragic thing your house example, I would view the phrase as being encouraging and motivational.

 

 

Yes, I would too. But some of the medical horrors and disability issues we've struggled with as a family, no.  Just be kind to me.

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What I've noticed when my son died is that responses that were about how the other person was feeling or that made them feel better made me feel worse. So the "It all happens for a reason" type responses, which were making the other person feel better, made me feel lousy.

 

The responses that made me feel better were things that showed the other person understood how I was feeling and accepted it right then. The 12 yr old who, after struggling with herself, burst out with "You must be P%$$^&"! Yep, she was right, and it made me feel better to know that she understood that I was angry. (Gotta love kids). Or the mom who  quietly said "The day my son (a wonderful kid with severe, multiple special needs) was born was the worst day of my life, too." The neighbor who cried with me because "they should have played together" as we watched her toddler pull books off the shelf.

 

They got it. Not many people did-but those who did were the ones who got me through.

 

 

 

 

 

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What I've noticed when my son died is that responses that were about how the other person was feeling or that made them feel better made me feel worse. So the "It all happens for a reason" type responses, which were making the other person feel better, made me feel lousy.

 

The responses that made me feel better were things that showed the other person understood how I was feeling and accepted it right then. The 12 yr old who, after struggling with herself, burst out with "You must be P%$$^&"! Yep, she was right, and it made me feel better to know that she understood that I was angry. (Gotta love kids). Or the mom who quietly said "The day my son (a wonderful kid with severe, multiple special needs) was born was the worst day of my life, too." The neighbor who cried with me because "they should have played together" as we watched her toddler pull books off the shelf.

 

They got it. Not many people did-but those who did were the ones who got me through.

I think you've touched a really good point. Authenticity with our grief is a struggle for people because grief isn't neat, tidy, or always politically correct. And when people try to make it so this weird and awkward stuff comes out. People being real, genuine, and caring for each other might make the above comments, but they're a heck of a lot better than trying to be a hallmark card.

 

I don't think it always works - some people are authentically thoughtless assholes - but I think that, with the circle principle in mind, is a solid start.

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Yes, Christians say this stuff too often and it shoots our wounded. Not being theologically sound and feeling uncomfortable = stupid and hurtful.

 

And for those who believe it is theologically sound? It still equals stupid and hurtful. I think it serves the needs of the person talking, not the person suffering, and I think that's just mean, mean, mean. 

 

Don't say to a rape victim that God will use this for your good. No. Don't. Just shut up.

Say, God hates that someone hurt you and grieves with you, as I will.

 

I think this is hardly better, honestly. It's another theological nightmare, and another instance of the speaker soothing their own worries without actually considering the suffering going on. 

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And for those who believe it is theologically sound? It still equals stupid and hurtful. I think it serves the needs of the person talking, not the person suffering, and I think that's just mean, mean, mean. 

 

Yes, that's the whole thing. They're not considering you and your feelings. They're giving their viewpoint. Even if that aligns with my theology, I need understanding when I'm low, not a theological lecture.

 

Maybe I'm showing my middle-aged stripes, but there really are just a handful of people that I know personally who get it.

 

As I said earlier, I'm more and more private because of that. I've had a lot of situations that were just plain rotten that I didn't want people digging into.

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Haven't read the other posts, but actually, I find 'everything happens for a reason' to be extremely comforting. It gave me hope to go on, to fight through and to look at the silver linings of my experiences. It helped me a lot.

 

I get that it doesn't help everyone, and I don't say it unless I know the person is a Christian, but please don't dismiss it as a terrible thing either because for some of us it's the most comforting thing we can hear. 

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And for those who believe it is theologically sound? It still equals stupid and hurtful. I think it serves the needs of the person talking, not the person suffering, and I think that's just mean, mean, mean.

 

 

I think this is hardly better, honestly. It's another theological nightmare, and another instance of the speaker soothing their own worries without actually considering the suffering going on.

I said theologically sound plus uncomfortable with the grief.

 

To the second paragraph, I disagree. That's not what happened in practice.

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I didn't think anyone still said this phrase. It's incredibly insensitive. How can people not know that? 

 

Unfortunately, I hear it ALL THE TIME.  It it like nails on the chalkboard for me.

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Unfortunately, I hear it ALL THE TIME.  It it like nails on the chalkboard for me.

 

Yes, I hear it all the time among those at our church.

 

When you're in deep grief over a relative that died unexpectedly and tragically or are dealing with progressive, terminal medical problems, they might as well slap you across the face. These things are deep and long-lasting, not like not getting a job you interviewed for or finding out that something you wanted isn't available.

 

Grief is very real and shouldn't be glossed over with platitudes anyway.

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I believe bad things happen for many reasons—because God intends them for good, because God allows them for testing or sifting, because we live in a fallen world, as discipline, as punishment, as a result of unbelief. God does whatever He pleases, and I don't think we really need to know why, although it has been comforting to me to look back and see how He's used the bad as well as the good. Sometimes all I can do is say with Job, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him."

 

If someone wants to talk about the question of why, they will. If not, my instructions as a Christian are clear: mourn with those who mourn. Often I can't think of anything to say other than, "I'm so sorry," but probably that's for the best.

 

:grouphug: to all who have suffered loss.

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I said theologically sound plus uncomfortable with the grief.

 

To the second paragraph, I disagree. That's not what happened in practice.

 

My point is that being theologically sound is irrelevant. What is theologically sound to someone else is not theologically sound to you (ie, "everything happens for a reason"). But the corollary is true, what is theologically sound for you is not so for others. So theological soundness doesn't matter with regard to the effect of the logistical quagmire or hurtfulness of the comment. 

 

Saying god grieves with you is no less hurtful, imo. It still serves to make the speaker feel better about their faith when they see the claims of the faith simply don't come to pass. As the god of the gaps continues to shrink, from showing his presence by shooting fireballs from the sky and making soggy altars burn, to healing the diseased (never amputees, curiously enough), this god is now regulated to merely being there, not even providing comfort in any functional pr discernible way. The believer has to be reminded of this. As if they forgot, or more likely, as if reality simply doesn't conform to the expectation of the faithful and they can't avoid this. So again, the comment serves the one speaking. I think this illustration explains well [bigger version]:

 

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If the one hurting is of the same mind as the one speaking, then both are in agreement and it's like preaching to the choir. All is good. But as we've seen in this short thread already, xians don't agree with each other even as they share the same faith, the same belief in the same god. Simply being a xian isn't enough to assure one believes a particular claim will be considered theologically sound, and what might be comforting to one xian could be hurtful to another. I find it most interesting that even people who believe this claim is true know enough to not say it out loud unless they're in "safe" company. They know it's interpreted as hurtful. They know sharing their faith hurts others. But it brings comfort to them. I find that fascinating from a behavioral point of view. For me, it's like saying, "I know rubbing lemon juice in your paper cut is painful, but it really makes me feel better, so I won't say it, but I'm going to imagine it all. night. long."

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Haven't read the other posts, but actually, I find 'everything happens for a reason' to be extremely comforting. It gave me hope to go on, to fight through and to look at the silver linings of my experiences. It helped me a lot.

 

I get that it doesn't help everyone, and I don't say it unless I know the person is a Christian, but please don't dismiss it as a terrible thing either because for some of us it's the most comforting thing we can hear.

I hated it when I WAS a Christian.

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I believe bad things happen for many reasons—because God intends them for good, because God allows them for testing or sifting, because we live in a fallen world, as discipline, as punishment, as a result of unbelief. God does whatever He pleases, and I don't think we really need to know why, although it has been comforting to me to look back and see how He's used the bad as well as the good. Sometimes all I can do is say with Job, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him."

 

If someone wants to talk about the question of why, they will. If not, my instructions as a Christian are clear: mourn with those who mourn. Often I can't think of anything to say other than, "I'm so sorry," but probably that's for the best.

 

:grouphug: to all who have suffered loss.

Hmmm. If God allows bad things to happen as punishment, wouldn't we see a greater percentage of cancer/car wrecks/fires among atheists/Muslims/Wiccans/insert non-chosen belief system?? Wouldn't us special Christians have more health, wealth and happiness?? Sorry but your theology is a mess.

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Hmmm. If God allows bad things to happen as punishment, wouldn't we see a greater percentage of cancer/car wrecks/fires among atheists/Muslims/Wiccans/insert non-chosen belief system?? Wouldn't us special Christians have more health, wealth and happiness?? Sorry but your theology is a mess.

 

I didn't say or imply that God always punishes unbelief or sin in this life, nor would I. "The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after" (1 Timothy 5:24). "The Lord your God...is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil." (Joel 2:13)

 

I also didn't say or imply that God always chooses to bless Christians. Many of the verses I cited dealt specifically with the suffering Christians experience in this world.

 

I don't know anything about your theological beliefs, but if you're a Christian who doesn't believe God uses events in this world to punish and discipline, do a survey of the Old and New Testaments. You'll find it throughout both.

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Apparently, I am insensitive jerk because I do use this phrase. It has no religious connotation for me. It isn't about trying to make sense of death or significant tragedy (I wouldn't use it in that way. I do think that is insensitive.) I use the phrase when events don't go the way I (or others) had hoped. Because I believe there is meaning and a reason and that it will work out for the best in the long run. It has positive meaning for ME but I can understand how someone might not get that.

 

When someone is grieving, supporting them isn't about what makes sense to you, but what comforts them. If you don't know them well enough to know what could possibly comfort them, then stick to "I'm sorry."

 

My dd has a long-time group of friends who ranged in age from 19-25. These are/were bright, kind, decent kids who were going places. A couple of years ago, a car full of drunk teens driving over 70 mph t-boned the car of two of dd's friends - who were brothers. Over a three year period, that random accident triggered one death, one suicide, one near-death due to alcohol poisoning, and a nervous breakdown. The survivors are very scarred.

 

My dd had already struggled with depression and this situation has at times left her with a very tentative hold on life. The long-time family friend who has recently become both much more devout and much more rigid told dd last year that this was all part of God's plan. I thought I would hit the roof. In my mind, I could see a scale with a totaled car, a cemetery, hospital rooms and psyche wards, booze bottles, buckets of tears, and years lost piled high, while on the other side, I could see absolutely nothing. I could not think of anything that could possibly balance out the whole painful mess.

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I hate to say, some people did even try to imagine what "best" it might have been that my baby died. *rolling eyes* one person said, "Well, you never know, maybe she would have grown up to be a bad person and this was God's way of taking her to heaven so that would never happen..." Where is my puking icon? Also, maybe she would have been handicapped. Because, you know, dead is so much better than handicapped.

 

Quill, that is just so...horrific. I can't imagine being on the receiving end of that. I sorry that anyone could be that callous or thoughtless. :grouphug:

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When someone is grieving, supporting them isn't about what makes sense to you, but what comforts them. If you don't know them well enough to know what could possibly comfort them, then stick to "I'm sorry."

 

My dd has a long-time group of friends who ranged in age from 19-25. These are/were bright, kind, decent kids who were going places. A couple of years ago, a car full of drunk teens driving over 70 mph t-boned the car of two of dd's friends - who were brothers. Over a three year period, that random accident triggered one death, one suicide, one near-death due to alcohol poisoning, and a nervous breakdown. The survivors are very scarred.

 

My dd had already struggled with depression and this situation has at times left her with a very tentative hold on life. The long-time family friend who has recently become both much more devout and much more rigid told dd last year that this was all part of God's plan. I thought I would hit the roof. In my mind, I could see a scale with a totaled car, a cemetery, hospital rooms and psyche wards, booze bottles, buckets of tears, and years lost piled high, while on the other side, I could see absolutely nothing. I could not think of anything that could possibly balance out the whole painful mess.

:grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug:

 

I'm so sorry, Lisa. :(

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I hated it when I WAS a Christian.

 

Well I'm sorry that was the case for you, I generally try to avoid saying it to people I don't know well enough to know their beliefs on sin/bad things. But, your experience is not everyones, and some of us have taken great comfort from a concept you hated. I've even been known to say it about my own circumstances, to others who are feeling upset on my behalf, at times.

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