I’m friends with Canadian fish who thinks she’s a peach-flavored desert. Despite her incredibly amusing identity crisis, she’s pretty much my favorite imaginary friend with access to wifi and a Facebook account.
Peach Flambee (that’s her name and it’ perfect) keeps me around, I think, because she finds me – and my penchant for amusing word tangent in response to her Facebook updates — as endearing as I am easily distracted. Personally, I think it’s unfair to bait the woman incapable of one word responses without first checking if:
A) I’m on deadline
B) what were we talking about aga…
C) I’ve got any adderall still working in my system whilst being tagged.
Because what’s happening here is a perfect example of why Peach could probably live quite happily without cable.
Peach got downright philosophical in response to Piccard voicing the very thing most of us are thinking when someone else says something like this after our cats get run over on the very same day we seem to have run out of chocolate. I was just going to paraphrase, but I went with a straight up cut & paste because I’m already losing interest here.
The meaning of what we say is determined by denotation, connotation, and context.
“Everything happens for a reason.” Denotatively, this is self- evident, so why say it?
Consider the context: Something unfortunate has happened to someone you care about, typically involving a loss: life, mobility, job, functionality, home …
Some well meaning folks respond with “Everything happens for a reason.” What is the connotation of this? Somewhere, somehow, a benefit will come from this loss, so really, you don’t need to feel so bad.
That’s right, you shouldn’t feel so bad.
This is invalidation of normal, healthy grief and anger. And why? Can this person tell us what the elusive benefit is?
Uhhhh … no. Well, sort of. Maybe. It might be guesswork, But no, not really.
Who feels better for this? The person suffering the loss? Let’s see: The loss is still suffered, and in some way that he can’t quite put his finger on, he now gets the sense that the way he feels is somehow wrong, or inappropriate or demanding … but no one told him that, so *that* perception must also be wrong …
How about the well- meaning person? With one platitude, he’s spread a positive thought to a suffering person, and without any real effort on his part. He’s been thoughtful and it was so easy … and now he can stop feeling awkward because he has had something pleasant to say and something helpful to do.
We feel uncomfortable when the people we care about are suffering. This encourages us to say or do the first thing that will alleviate our own discomfort, often without thinking, because this is what we have learned to do by watching other people. We’re not alone in this so it must be the correct thing to do, right?
When you’re on the receiving end of the platitudes, they great, but you’re conditioned to believe that you’re just grumpy because you’re suffering. All the same, you find yourself feeling that you want to push away the people who care about you, and that makes things worse. Around and around it goes.
Sometimes there really is no useful advice you can give to a loved one. So don’t. Just offer to be there and not judge. Accept the sufferer’s feelings. Give him space if he needs it.
I adore how Boggle the Owl presents advice for these situations. I suggest giving Boggle a read
(Tagging Pauline, as the resident expert )
I know what you’re thinking…that’s one smart goldfish. But stick with me here, because one of us need to stay focused and we both know I’m pointing at you when I say that.
The Reasons that Everything keeps happening include ( but are not limited to):
- life’s a bitch
- karma has probably *always* a bitch
- no, seriously. Have you EVER heard someone say “Wow, that Karma…sweet as pie, that one... No?! -EXACTLY.
* you like pounding your head, repeatedly, on a hard surface.
* don’t lie and try to cover it up. “Namaste” is nowhere nearly as effective a mental picture as *HEADDESK* when trying illustrate frustration over The Everythings & The reasons the Everythings don’t take a fucking coffee break
* your mother called
* his mother called
* you didn’t forward that chain letter meme to 667 people before mercury went into to retrograde, DID you?
* you IDIOT
* You got out of bed this morning
* You cut the tag off of your pillow just to see what would happen
* It seemed like a good idea at the time
* You didn’t bother aiming and crossed the wires, thereby angering Zuel and inspiring over-achieving Pinterest users to make your s’more look like the unoriginal schlopp is really is
* You wore white after Labor Day
* The damned chicken just wanted to get to the other side, okaaaay?
* Well you see, Susie, when a Mommy and a Daddy like each other, they share a special hug…
* You poked the bear. Stop poking the fucking bear, will you?
This list could very probably never become suddenly outdated because there will always be stupid people in the world who say stupid (but well-meaning) things like Everything Happens for a Reason when the best response is usually none at all.
It’s either that, or Ben & Jerry’s better get to mixing new flavor combinations and slap Sorry About You Cat on the label. Because that’s really the only acceptable alternative allowed.
The Resident Expert