I think "Everything happens for a reason" is the dumbest thing you can say to someone who is going through a difficult time. Some people even say that the BIBLE says everything happens for a reason... and they are wrong.
I don't believe that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes, really bad things happen to good people because we live in a fallen world. But I do believe that God can bring good from any situation.
Suffering CAN bring redemptive grace to those who love God and don't turn away from him when life hurts. What it actually says in Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
I think sometimes people say stupid or trite things because they don't know what else to say, or because they don't realize that they are being hurtful. I forgive them, because they are coming from a place of love. They just don't know what to say, and feel they have to say something. Sometimes, you just need to shut up and listen, or better yet... give a hug, offer a prayer, and just BE there.
I have a lot to say, but still need to collect my thoughts. Writing (and since 2003, blogging) has been a great way for me to process and share things, and I need to do that now. Thank you for listening.