Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Anger at Illness

When people get sick, are in pain and in the hospital, they often are angry. They take it out on doctors, nurses, relatives and their bodies. They want to blame others for their distress. When you get sick to your stomach you may blame it on something you ate.  I used to blame my doctor for not warning me that the cartilage in my hip was wearing out. He should have told me to stop running. Some people get angry at themselves for being in pain. They think they have done something wrong. There is even a notion among some that being sick is God’s punishment for their sins.

Not everyone can be the patient patient, the serene bearer of all things or a perfect saint when it comes to being sick. Often we are just plain angry at the pain, discomfort, distress and helplessness of recovering from surgery or chemotherapy. We feel angry bereft and hopeless when we are not in control of what is happening to our bodies.

Feeling angry is a natural and normal part of being human. Anger is a basic emotion that arises in us when we are sick and sometimes when we least expect it. Perhaps it happens when someone we love scolds us suddenly.

Many people think anger is a sin and it is to be squelched. Others think anger is an unworthy feeling and should not be recognized. If you try to escape anger, it will always find you. Suppressing anger for too long may lead to an outbreak of violence.

My mantra is when you feel angry, notice it, watch it, allow yourself to feel how your heart beats, how your breathing quickens, your fists and jaw clench. Allow those bodily feeling to occur in you and don’t do anything, just feel the anger.  Take a deep breath or two, relax, try to think about how you feel and still feeling the anger in your body. Take some more deep breaths.

Then think about what you want to do about the anger that you felt, the person or event that triggered he anger.

If you are ill and in pain when you feel the anger, allow the feeling of anger to arise fall and get you to a place where you may want to get help, a pill, talk about it or sleep.

Sometimes there is nothing that can be done. You just have to lie there and allow the time to go by. Noting the anger probably won’t solve all your problems. But seeing your anger as a friend, a helper, a source of energy for healing and change.

When African-Americans got angry enough, they brought a non-violent revolution that crated healing, change and justice.

Letting you anger work for you, may be a way toward healing and joy.


Anonymous Fred Fnton said...

Thank you for endorsing the positive energy that can come from anger. Reading the NYTimes editorial this morning on the harmful impact for poor people of the proposed Republican budget made me mad as hell. You have reminded me to channel that energy into reminding my Democratic representatives to oppose Republican efforts to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor.

11:43 AM  

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