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CWRU study examines family struggles with anger and forgiveness when relative is dying
Date:2/19/2013

Watching a loved one die tests some family members' relationships with God or the higher being of one's faith. And the spiritual anger and resentment grow with the level of pain and suffering their family member endures, according to researchers at Case Western Reserve University.

Psychologist Julie Exline and palliative care advanced practice nurse Maryjo Prince-Paul surveyed 147 family members with a hospice patient under home care.

More than four of every 10 respondents reported at least some level of anger with God, a major source of which was watching a loved one suffering great pain. Resentment was strongest among family members of cancer patients and weakest among family members of heart disease patients.

A family member's level of spirituality was also a factor. The less religious or spiritual family members said they were, the more anger they reported toward God. Family members also reported more anger toward God if they could not see any deeper meaning in the suffering that the patient and family were experiencing.

Exline, associate professor of psychological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Maryjo Prince-Paul, assistant professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve and research scientist at Hospice of the Western Reserve, published their findings in the current Journal of Palliative Medicine article, "The Spiritual Struggle of Anger Toward God: A Study with Family Members of Hospice Patients."

A related study by the researchers in a recent Journal of Palliative Medicine article (volume 15, issue 10, 2012), "Forgiveness, Depressive Symptoms, and Communication at the End of Life: A Study with Family Members of Hospice Patients," explored the importance of forgiveness-related communications between hospice patients and family members. Many family members reported that they saw seeking and granting forgiveness as very important in their
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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