Is Saying “Everything Happens For A Reason” Helpful or Harmful? My Answer: It Depends On Who You’re Talking To

I recently read an article called “Everything Doesn’t Happen for A Reason” that offered an interesting perspective on how the words “everything happens for a reason” can invalidate feelings and experiences and cause harm instead of comfort.

Check it out for yourself before continuing, and come back here and share your thoughts.

Is saying “Everything Happens for a reason” helpful or harmful? My Answer: It depends on who you’re talking to.

For me, that article served as another reminder of how important it is to treat others how they want to be treated, and not how we would want to be treated, because what might work for us might not work for someone else.

If you, or other people you know subscribe to the notion that everything happens for a reason, fine

But more often than not, I feel that we can have a tendency to project our realities and belief systems onto others in unhelpful ways, no matter our good intentions.

Tragedy holds meaning to the extent that we are able to forge out of it, and that forging, or not, is done in different ways by different people.

I really appreciated the perspective that the writer offered, as well as the way it was delivered, because I think it portrays a level of frustration that people who have had similar experiences might share.

And how affirming it must be to see it put into words.

There are times that I believe that things happen for a reason, but there are other times where hearing that from someone would be the furthest thing from helpful.

This post just reminds me to be more considerate of others experiencing grief.

Not everyone believes that losing a parent, getting cancer, having a miscarriage, or some other tragedy is a part of some grand plan to build their character or something like that, and using personal growth and development, as a justification can be really hurtful if communicating with someone who doesn’t subscribe to that belief, and even someone who has in the past, but might not in that moment.

It’s complicated for me. For example, I’ve forged meaning and purpose out of my experiences with racism, but in no way do I think what happens to me or other people of color is SUPPOSED to happen.

Yet, there are things that have happened to me in other aspects that I feel happened for very good reasons (in retrospect of course).

My biggest takeaway from all of this is to just to be more considerate, and I definitely appreciated the writer’s suggestions towards the end about what to offer instead.

Those were my thoughts, but what are yours?

Has the phrase “Everything happens for a reason” been helpful, harmful to you, or both?

Have you found that your use, or non-use of it has been helpful when attempting to support others who may be grieving in some way?


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones, MSW, LLMSW



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Written by

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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1 Response

  1. March 25, 2016

    […] Is Saying Everything Happens For A Reason Helpful or Harmful? My Answer: It Depends On Who You&#8217… […]

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