No, Not Everything Happens For a Reason

It’s tempting to offer these words of “comfort”, but there’s a much better way to support someone going through a tragedy.

Linda Smith
3 min readMay 5, 2021
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

We’ve all been there. We’re sharing a particularly painful or confusing experience with a friend and our struggle is met with the almost-inevitable cliché, “well, everything happens for a reason.”

The phrase, while almost always well-meaning, effectively shuts down the conversation.

Instead of encouraging an authentic, possibly-helpful dialogue, the adversity is unceremoniously summed up. What can possibly be said in response?

Saying things happen “for a reason” is actually a very natural, human response. It’s uncomfortable to be present to other people’s pain. We want to help, and it’s hard when someone’s problems just cannot be fixed.

It’s our attempt to cover up their pain and put a Band-Aid on it. It’s what we say when we want to convey comfort, but really don’t know how to express it.

Panacea for the Pain

Here’s the thing: we all want to think there’s a greater good for our troubles.

Believing there’s a higher purpose and a valuable lesson in our misfortunes is comforting. It…



Linda Smith

content creator | creative | coffee-enthusiast | Enneagram 9