Everything Does NOT Happen for a Reason

In America alone, someone dies by suicide every thirteen minutes.

Every thirteen minutes.

I originally posted this piece on SisterwivesSpeak.com in September. In this post, I mention a suicide that occurred my Senior year of high school. Today, the daughter of that friend is raising money for suicide prevention by selling t-shirts. If mental illness or suicide has touched your life, I urge you to help her out. Her goal is to sell one hundred shirts. She walks to remember a father she never got to know. I knew him, and he was a great guy. Thank you for your support. Click here to buy a t-shirt or leave a small donation. (FYI: After purchasing a shirt, I learned that you have to pick them up onsite.) 

“Everything happens for a reason.” Bullshit.

“It was all part of the plan. His plan. God’s plan.” Bullshit.

I know. It’s what people say. They want to help, to make you feel better, to make it easier, to try to justify…injustice.

“Only the good die young.” Truth.

“Gone too soon.” Truth.

“Life is short.” Absolutely.

I lost my first friend when I was in the sixth grade. He and his brother thought it would be a great idea to play with his father’s rifle, which was loaded and in their reach. BAM! Dead.

Another friend in junior high shot himself playing with his father’s loaded hand gun. BAM! Dead.

The next death happened when I was in the 9th grade. We all drove off campus for lunch. Well, I didn’t drive yet, but I was blonde and cute, so I easily found a ride and was spared the cafeteria food. Every single day, we drove the same country road. We passed the same friends, classmates, upperclassmen. We went to Sonic, and McDonald’s, and Subway, and Taco Villa, and every single day we drove back down the same two lane country road until one day. One day, four guys decided to pass another car on the shoulder, in the ditch, and they lost control, and one of them died. This was the first funeral I attended of a friend. Standing room only, sad music, and the chorus of, “everything happens for a reason.” “It’s all part of God’s plan.”

Tenth grade, another car accident, another friend, another funeral, another string of bullshit lines.

Junior year of high school, I became friends with Jason. He had big blue eyes, freckles on his nose, and a wide smile, and he knew how to make me laugh. He always sat next to me on the bus to Speech and Debate tournaments, and we talked the entire time, laughed until my cheeks hurt, and occasionally slept until we arrived to whatever high school was hosting the tournament. He was larger than life, but smaller than I. He was my friend, my good friend, and I loved him. The summer between our Junior and Senior year of high school, I got a phone call. He was gone. Dead from a car accident. Another friend, another funeral, another string of bullshit lines. My older brother came into my room and held me while I wept. He said it would be okay, and eventually it was, but still as I type this, I can’t see through the tears. Jason. He had the best laugh.

Senior year, Calculus class, Thursday afternoon: My friend Allison, Jennifer, and I sat together, all excited for prom, talking nonstop about dresses and hair and parties. “I’ve decided to go to prom. Jack and I found a dress last night. It hardly even looks like I’m pregnant,” Allison said.

“I’m so glad,” I responded honestly. I told her several times that nobody would care if she came to prom pregnant, that it was something she should experience. “We’ll all have a great time.” We whispered about plans for the rest of the class. I walked out and headed to my last class of the day, Government. As I turned the corner and walked down the hall, I saw my good friend, Katy, in the school office. Her dad was there, which wasn’t normal. Then I watched her sag, drop to the ground, shaking and sobbing.

I continued to Government, sat down in my desk and asked every single person who walked in if they knew what was going on. I heard a scream. Finally one of my classmates walked in clutching her books to her chest with a look, that look, on her face.

“What happened, Angie?”

“Jack just blew his brains out.”

I looked at her then, questioning. Did she really just say that?

“What?” I asked, defensively, hugging myself.

She repeated it again, stretching out the words this time, “Jack just blew his brains out.”

I can still see Angie’s face.  I can still feel my heart shatter. I can still hear the scream of my friend, my pregnant friend, who found out that her boyfriend, her husband actually, the father of her unborn baby, the guy who helped her pick out her prom dress the night before had just shot himself in the head with his grandfather’s shot gun. Katy, who I saw in the office, was Jack’s aunt. They were only a year apart and were more like siblings. I cried, big salty wet tears, sitting in my chair, heart broken for Katy, for Allison, and for myself. Jack? He was so young, so happy, so beautiful, such a great guy. Football player, popular, great looking, nice, funny, smart. Sure, his parents made him marry his high school girlfriend since he got her pregnant. Sure he wasn’t ready. Maybe he thought it was the end of the world, but suicide? His Junior year of high school?

He didn’t die immediately. He was in the hospital for two days. Prom was Saturday. He died that morning. We all agreed to go to prom anyway. My friend Katy, Jack’s aunt, was crowned prom queen. She cried giant ugly tears. We all did. They played his favorite song and dedicated the prom to him and said he was dancing with the angels. That is was all part of the plan. That he was in a better place. That it all happened for a reason.

Bullshit.

Freshman year of college. Another friend was killed in a car accident. My high school boyfriend’s best friend. Another funeral. Same story every time.

Sophomore year of college: a kid in my church got killed. He was sixteen. He went through a stop sign and was smashed by an eighteen wheeler. My father was the minister of the church and handled the funeral ceremony. He said something that I’ll never forget.  “This was not God’s plan. This did not happen for a reason. We live in an imperfect world, and bad stuff happens.” It was the first time I attended a funeral and wasn’t pacified.

I’ve attended so many funerals. So many of my classmates have died. In the last two years, I’ve lost five friends, classmates that graduated with me. Five. One was my best friend in junior high school. I can still smell her house, like a second home to me. She fought cancer, fought it hard, but she lost, and she left behind a husband and her six year old daughter. Our mutual friend spoke at her funeral, talked about childhood memories, memories that I shared. Then almost exactly a year later, she died, too. Of cancer. Two kids and a husband left without her.

Don’t tell me that it happened for a reason. Don’t tell me that their deaths were all part of some plan.

The worst death though, the one that I still can’t seem to get over the grief happened in May. I woke from an uneasy sleep at 1:30 am. I looked at the caller ID. Kimberly’s name flashed. Kimberly, my best friend of thirty years was calling me at 1:30 in the morning. This can’t be good, I thought. I expected her to say that her grandmother died, maybe that her mother was ill. I braced myself to be her strength.

What she said will forever echo in my mind.

“Thomas,” she whispered. I could tell she was crying. I sat straight up in my dark room, heart sputtering in my chest.

“What, Kimberly? Thomas what?”

“Thomas is gone.” She sobbed.

“What do you mean gone? Gone where?”

She kept talking about a phone call, about his friend going to her sister’s house frantic telling her to come with him that he was gone, gone. “Dead,” she finally said.

“No. No! Are you sure? It must be a mistake.”

“I’m on my way there,” she continued and told me in broken words about the car accident, rolled several times, no seat belt, ejected, died instantly.

“I have to go!” She said. Her sister, who I love like she is my own sister, was calling on the other line. The child’s mother. The mother who gave birth to a boy eighteen years before, a boy who was no longer on this earth.

I called my dad and begged him to tell God that He made a mistake. I had to repeat myself at least a dozen times before he could understand, maybe because I was hysterical, maybe because it was 1:30 in the morning. I don’t think he realized what I was saying until I finally screamed at him to wake up and listen and told him to pray as hard as he could that it wasn’t true. “Please, Dad,” I begged through breathless tears.

I stopped praying a long time ago, but my dad still prayed. He still believed in miracles, and I needed one. Kimberly needed a miracle.

But there wasn’t one.

It didn’t happen for a reason. It wasn’t all part of a plan. It was definitely not part of God’s plan to take a kind, caring, clever, funny boy away from my best friend, away from his mother, away from his younger brother away from a world that had yet to give him all of the wonderful things he deserved.

Everything does NOT happen for a reason.

Stop saying that.

Grief-sisterwives

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25 thoughts on “Everything Does NOT Happen for a Reason

  1. “This was not God’s plan. This did not happen for a reason. We live in an imperfect world, and bad stuff happens.”

    I remember when Kay was murdered, I turned to my husband and said, “I thought everything had a reason, but I don’t get this. Why would God leave me without my sister? Why would this happen?”

    If somebody would’ve said, “Everything happens for a reason.” I’m pretty sure I would have told them to, FUCK OFF.

    xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Had no idea I would be crying this hard today. I felt this. I have felt loss. I am in the same mindset as you…only I word it from the other side….Stop saying ‘everything happens for a reason’. Of course it happens for a reason…it happens because people are injured or they are sick or they have an accident. Everything we do or say or feel happens for a REASON…the reasons are because of cause and effect. It’s not a grand scheme..these things weren’t SUPPOSED to happen..they just did. Life is brutal and hard and I am thankful that people have each other to lean on. We need it. xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    • I didn’t mean to make you cry, Michelle, and I’m also sorry you’ve experienced this kind of loss. It’s not something that can easily be pacified by a few words.

      Like

    • Yes…that’s where I’m at with it. It’s not some grand, cosmic reason designed by the universe to weave into life’s rich tapestry – it’s a broken, tattered, agonising reason of someone coming to the end of their tether and not having the support or resources or will to continue.

      That’s the reason.

      And I believe in a God of love, who hurts more over these souls than the ones who just pass away peacefully, because they are souls in such agony, and so feeling a lack of love, which is what He’s all about (I hope, or else NONE of this is worth it).

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I have never bought into the ‘everything happens for a reason’ line. And the ‘it’s part of God’s plan’ is a lame excuse. Life and death are intertwined in a chaotic twerky dance. A well written article.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this.

    I loathe the fakeness that manifests in people when someone they know dies young or otherwise before their time. I’ve heard people say, “God just needed another angel,” and wanted to slap them for it. God didn’t need an angel. YOU needed a cop-out to make yourself feel better about something terrible.

    Enough with the patronizing stories and excuses people make up to try and smooth away death’s jagged edges so it won’t cut so deeply. The dead person didn’t get that luxury. Let it cut. Acknowledge the grief and anger and pointlessness of a life being cut short without cheapening it with pretty lies. Death is not a bedtime story. It is raw and crude and indiscriminate. Pretending otherwise to make a loss temporarily more bearable is just insulting to everyone, not least the deceased.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your response. Patronizing is a great way of putting it. I agree with every single thing you said. I get that people just want to say something, to do what they can and “try” to make you feel better, but it doesn’t help. At all. Thanks for stopping by and for the new twitter follow.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can identify with this, sadly! I had a friend in high school who was not popular, was not even noticed by most people but she was my friend. Her brother committed suicide with a shotgun and she was the one who found him. I have never seen a person so devastated and I stood by her and did what I could to just be there and be her friend. She didn’t have many friends but I did what I could in a time of tremendous sadness. I didn’t have to understand it or justify it, I just had to be there for my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Melissa, that’s all anyone can do is be there. Trust me. I’ve been there for so many. Trying to say anything just as the comment before you says cheapens the grief. I am sorry your friend had to experience that. I also had a friend who found her brother in high school. I couldn’t write about all of the deaths because my post was already too long, but that was another that rocked my world because of the sheer pain I saw my friend go through. It’s never easy. You’re a good person for standing by your friend though. I know she appreciates that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my gosh, I had so many feelings reading this post! I totally agree with what you have said.
    Just yesterday I went to my friends father’s funeral. He was a wonderful man who was full of life and taken suddenly. The preacher said those kinds of things and I remember sitting there thinking, “Seriously dude? If this is all part of God’s plan then he is kinda an a**hole!” He took a wonderfully kind, loving and giving man yet leaves behind horrible men who take joy in causing harm to others, how does that make sense in the big plan?
    *deep breath* and this is why funerals make me mad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve questioned my own beliefs because of the scum that God “keeps around” when so many great people are taken far too soon. It makes zero sense, and even my dad who I go to for all of my spiritual questions can’t make me understand. I have so many questions. If there is an after life and I get to hang with the big guy upstairs, he’ll get sick of me and probably send me back.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. :-(( What a post. I know guns only were a medium, not the reason, but a device to preform this sad plan. But sometimes those guns kill people not being involved at all then just having bad luck being there in that moment. In a country where private persons don’t have guns, no mass killing action in schools…yet a problem of being unhappyy and unheard stays. I agree a lot with a message of your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for always reading and commenting. Guns. I could write a whole post on how much I hate guns and the lack of gun control and parameters there are here in the U.S. I have no tolerance anymore for our system and all of the mass shootings. I keep saying I’m going to move to a different country. Maybe I need to just bite the bullet. See wheat I did there?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I will turn 60 this year which I assume means I’m probably older than at least some of the people responding here. I don’t know if older makes you wiser but I know being older you see a lot of things happen in your lifetime that you don’t understand (although I will say a lot of you have experienced things in your young lives that nobody should have to experience). My son lost a classmate in his 5th grade year of school (the classmate was an 11 year old innocent victim of a drive-by shooting). We went to the funeral for my son’s classmate which happened to be my son’s 11th birthday (not the way he’d planned on spending his birthday). I wondered why this kid who was the apple of his mom’s eye, who was an honor student, a scout and a fun loving kid would be killed in his own home just having fun playing with friends, but I had also learned not to question God after the loss of my dad, my best friend (although when my dad died I secretly wished it had been my mom instead of him). When my son was a sophomore in high school my mom died and then when my son was a senior in high school his favorite teacher committed suicide that April. Again, my son was going to a funeral for someone close to him. Following the teacher’s suicide, in October of the same year, my son’s best friend was training for his rowing team his freshman year of college when Nick (my son’s best friend) collapsed and died for no apparent reason (later an autopsy revealed he had a heart condition nobody knew about). Why am I talking about all of these deaths-well something positive came out of each one of them much later than the actual deaths. I’m not sure God expects us to understand why at the exact moment – after all God created us to be humans. But I do think at certain moments something will come to you and you may say to yourself “wow, so this is why” or maybe you’ll never understand why, maybe it’s not meant for you to understand.
    With all that being said, I can say from my personal experience had my mom died before my dad (like I wished at the time of my dad’s death), she and I would never have been able to come to terms with our differences. I believe God took my dad first to give me time to try to understand why my mom wasn’t the loving mom all my friends had and I learned to forgive her. I never would have forgiven her if she would have died first and that would have been a heavy weight for me to carry. All was great between my dad and I when he died-I just wanted more time with him. I know I will be reunited with him again.
    Still, when someone dies it’s definitely not the right time to say it’s part of God’s plan or it was meant to be because in our grief mode, we cannot accept that.
    That’s just my two cents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm. That’s a lot to ponder because basically it seems that in your case, your father died which gave you the connection you needed with your mom. Maybe that was God’s plan. I don’t know. I said in an earlier comment that if I had a chance to talk to God some day, I have lots of questions. I might have to bring up your scenario. The loss your poor son experienced though. What a shame for him to have to go through all of that. I know that pain, and it’s no fun. To watch a mother/father bury a child is excruciating. I must remember to be grateful for the life I get to keep living every day and for those that I love. Today I think I needed this reminder. Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the internet and leaving such a thought provoking comment. I hope to see you around again.

      Like

  9. I always like to think everything happens for a reason, that nothing is meaningless. But I’ve never ever thought or said it about death.

    I’ve lost a couple of important loved-ones in the past couple of years. I’ve also known an inordinate amount of people who committed suicide. Eight. I think that’s too many to have known in person.

    I think one is too many.

    My reaction over untimely death is always the same: Why? It never makes any sense and even past my grieving stage, I can’t stop wondering why. But no, there is no “reason.” It’s what you said, “injustice.” And I still want to know why.

    Like

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