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Anger: When Bad Things Happen to Good People

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By Kimberly Burnham

Does illness or death change your attitude towards God? How to deal with the feelings associated with situations where bad things (death and serious illness) happen to good people, loved ones and family members is affected by belief in God, a higher power or sense of spirituality as well as a person’s overall level of health and attitude towards life (happy or depressed) and pain.

Do you consider yourself happy or does depression sometimes creep into your way of viewing the world and life?

What kinds of feelings does pain bring up in you? Is it different if it is your own pain or someone else’s? Is physical pain better or worse for you than social, emotional or spiritual pain? Brain research shows that what pain does to the brain is similar regardless of the source of the pain.

Hospice care is the palliative care of seriously ill people. The main aim is to make them comfortable in their last few weeks or days. A recent study looked at the coping strategies of the family members of people in hospice care and associated anger at God.

“Anger toward God is a common form of spiritual struggle, one that people often experience when they see God as responsible for severe harm or suffering,” researchers said in the 2013 study, The Spiritual Struggle of Anger Toward God: a Study With Family Members of Hospice Patients. 

“Surveys indicated that 43 percent of participants reported anger/disappointment toward God, albeit usually at low levels of intensity. Anger toward God was associated with more depressive symptoms, lower religiosity, more difficulty finding meaning, and belief that the patient was experiencing greater pain.”

Strategies for managing conflicts with God included:

  • Prayer
  • Reading sacred texts
  • Handling the feelings on one’s own
  • Conversations with friends, family, clergy, or hospice staff
  • Self-help resources
  • Therapy

Researchers concluded, “Anger toward God is an important spiritual issue among family members of hospice patients, one that is commonly experienced and linked with depressive symptoms.”

In a 2011 study, J. J. Exline, noted, “Many people see themselves as being in a relationship with God and see this bond as comforting. Yet, perceived relationships with God also carry the potential for experiencing anger toward God, … and included holding God responsible for severe harm, attributions of cruelty, difficulty finding meaning, and seeing oneself as a victim. Some atheists and agnostics reported anger involving God, particularly on measures emphasizing past experiences and images of a hypothetical God. Anger toward God was associated with poorer adjustment to bereavement and cancer, particularly when anger remained unresolved over a 1-year period. “

How do you try to resolve your anger whether it is aimed at God, someone, or something else?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine holding onto long term anger is associated with liver and gallbladder irritation. These are the wood element organs of acupressure or acupuncture and associated with the color green and the natural environment. These organs, associated emotions and senses are also associated with vision or how you see the world.

You can think of it like a triangle with each point influencing the others. If you do things to make your liver and gallbladder better, in other words approach it from a physical health perspective your emotional state and ability to enjoy what you see improves. If you change how you see the world, your emotional state and physical health improve and if you change your emotional state both your physical health and vision improves.

What do you see in the world, the natural environment and spiritual life?

About Kimberly Burnham

Author of "Awakenings: Peace Dictionary, Language and the Mind, A Daily Brain Health Program" Kimberly Burnham, PhD (Integrative Medicine) investigates the relationship between memory, language, caring and pattern recognition to create a daily brain health exercise program enabling people to achieve better neurological health, mood, and quality of life. She is on a mission to create more peace and understanding in the world by collecting and writing about the nuanced meaning of “Peace” in 4,000 different languages and is looking for funding to complete the project. Known as The Nerve Whisperer, Kimberly uses words (books, presentations, and poetry), health coaching, guided visualization, and hands-on therapies (CranioSacral therapy, acupressure, Matrix Energetics, Reiki, and Integrative Manual Therapy) to help people heal from nervous system and autoimmune conditions. She also focuses on vision issues like macular degeneration and supports people looking for eye exercises to improve driving and reading skills as well as athletic visual speed. An award-winning poet, Kimberly grew up overseas. The child of an international businessman and an artist, she learned Spanish in Colombia; French in Belgium; then Japanese in Tokyo and has studied both Italian and Hebrew as an adult. The author of “My Book: Self-Publishing, a Guided Journal”, she can be reached for health coaching, publishing help, bible study zoom presentations or talking about peace at NerveWhisperer@gmail.com or http://www.NerveWhisperer.Solutions.

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