Sunday, March 3, 2013

Everything happens for a reason – I dare to disagree!

Measure words carefully
Platitudes, those things that fall out of our mouths, often without much thought, when we are trying to make someone feel better. Saying, “Everything happens for a reason”, to someone whose child has vanished, or a victim of a tragic accident, surely would not make a parent feel better. I know this from personal experience as I vomited up those words - it took only once. Lesson learned.

How about the platitude, “God has a plan.” I am sorry but a benevolent God would never sacrifice the life of a child or create intense physical and mental suffering and even death, to fulfill a part of a plan. If anything, God is watching over us and offering love, comfort, and strength when his children are suffering, just as we should do when someone we love is in pain.

I have heard people say, “Bad things happen to good people”, but let us be real here - there is just no explanation as to why “anyone” must suffer.

Rarely, if ever, can a cliché or platitude make anyone feel better. Facing some difficult times throughout my life, I know I have heard them repeatedly, like “It can’t get worse.” What does one say to make someone feel better after it does get worse? During times of suffering in my own life or trying to be strong while watching my own children suffers from traumatic events, I know I fought to hold in the tears after hearing such platitudes because I understood those offering them did not intend to create additional distress.

When people are attempting to deal with crisis, saying such things dismisses the severity of what they are going through. You can’t tell me things will get better when I was just told I only have months to live and will not be here to see my grandchildren grow-up and certainly not that I will be In a better place, nor will that truly comfort those I have left behind.

When people are going through hardship, often people try to make them feel better by using these common phrases. Equally painful, is when friends and family say nothing and vanish from your life.

Painful experiences often lead to isolation because those suffering feel no one really understands what they are going through and often those around them are uncertain how to respond. Everyone’s experiences are unique to them due to previous life experiences, loss, and trauma they have endured in their lives. It is impossible to measure pain and additionally traumatizing is to play the “I had it worse than you and I made it” game. Suffering is not a competition.

Telling another person, you have to be strong when they are already searching for every ounce of energy and strength only diminishes the incredible courage they have already mustered. Dealing with one crisis often leads to multiple crises because the experience permeates through the entire life affecting relationships, work, sleep, and health. Eventually people become worn out as ongoing stress has a tendency to do that to the human mind and body.

Responding to those is crisis is actually quite simple. Just taking their hand and sincerely saying you are there for them, or calling to ask if they need to talk can mean the world to someone. Maybe we cannot take their pain away or solve their crisis but we can be a brace in the midst of a storm. Those in crisis may not respond immediately because they do not want to reflect weakness, they may feel they are burdening someone else with their problems or severe depression can set in. We should never take this personal, and remember there is not a timeline to recovering from crisis and trauma. I speak from personal experience; a gentle reminder that people care, could save a life.

Before we speak, we should always remember we are dealing with human lives and what you say could be the last words they hear or can endure hearing. Less is more . . . make them count!

~Written by Kym L. Pasqualini, and dedicated with love and respect to my friend Brian who is currently enduring every parent's nightmare and anyone who has heard those words - everything happens for a reason. ♥

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