Kinds of Comfort

I have been asked by a reader of these dispatches how Cancerlanders feel about that strange conversational offering, Everything happens for a reason.

We (okay, I) think it amounts to an unwitting confession on the part of the person saying it that he or she is totally and absolutely at a loss for anything else to say, that he or she may in fact be afraid to feel, or to hug, or to cry, that he or she doesn’t really believe when you come right down to it that there actually is any comfort to offer under the circumstances but that saying so (or fully feeling the truth of it ) would be even worse than saying Everything happens for a reason.

Everything happens for a reason.


Which entirely begs the question, Yeah, but for a good or a bad reason?  If for a good, what the hell is it?  And if for a bad, why?  Basically, Everything happens for a reason amounts to an injunction not to think any more about whatever has happened, to put it your of your mind, to accept and be done with it — as if any of that were possible.

The person who asked about this in the first place reports it as something someone said to friends of hers whose daughter had just died.  Not to be too hard on whoever it was (unless I have already been too hard, and it’s too late),  I am made sad by this silly and empty statement.  It is rather like It’s all part of God’s plan but with a very great and important difference.  The name-dropping makes clear that this offer of comfort comes from people of faith, and it would be graceless not to accept what they offer, whether it actually comforts you or not.   All part of God’s plan, yes, thank you very much, I see what you mean.

I am reminded of the old joke about a mother struggling to explain to her child why the child’s cat has been run over and killed.

“I know it’s hard, honey,” the mother says, “But I guess God wanted Fluffy up there in heaven.”

The little girl thinks a bit, then says, “Mommy?  What would God want with a dead cat?”

Old friends of my late parents lost a grown daughter, herself the mother of two children, in the collapse of the World Trade Center.  Everything happens for a reason?  And the reason in this case was?

What did God want with a dead daughter?

Heck, if you believe in God, It’s all part of God’s plan is at least something, I guess.

Whereas Everything happens for a reason is nothing.  Nothing at all.   Not in Cancerland, and not back home in the States either.

Published in: on April 17, 2010 at 7:56 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love the way you explained that. Well done. Thinking positive thoughts for you and sendig them your way.

  2. Are you a Christian, sir?

  3. Thank you for addressing my question. It makes me feel important! I still hate, “everything happens for a reason,” but I’m glad that Cancerlanders (at least, you) don’t find it offensive. What words comfort you? You may be interested to learn about how I try to comfort my friends (whose daughter died in the car accident) – we built a playground in Ethiopia and have since done some other things through a non-profit founded in her name. We lost our web site (we are just a kitchen table non-profit) but if you google “Laura’s World Fund” there may be information out there. Thanks again!!

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