Ask Dr. Giles: I'm angry at my parents' friends who have done nothing to help them

Lisa asks:

Dr. Giles,

My father is close to the end with this disease after about 6 months of being sick. I am so grief stricken and angry. The grief is overwhelming at times and I think things like, it would be better if we all died the minute we were born rather than live through such a life of suffering and injustice.

I was raised in church and felt very spritual and connected to God. Now I doubt. Almost everything. I pray and just ask why over and over.

Then I feel anger especially at the church people in my parents church who have not helped them in any way through this. I want to be able to tell them to their face what hypocrites they are and I mean to do that. I know that sounds awful, but I have seen them talk about how much they do for God, and it is not true.

I am not sure what advice you can give me. I am not only losing my Dad, but I think I am losing my faith and things I have believed my entire life without doubt. I still believe in God. I don’t think you can be angry at someone/something and not believe in it. But I have basically no faith in the established “church”.

I feel this will change who I am/have been for the last 46 years. I never want to come back to my hometown. I never want to have Christmas or Thanksgiving again. It is too much to bear.

Dear Lisa,

I can hear the heavy sadness and pain in your words. The end of your father’s life has impacted the way you see life, generally. I actually feel sorry for those who are close enough to your parents to help them but are not taking the initiative to provide that help. They are missing out on one of the most sacred and important parts of the human experience: taking opportunity to comfort those who stand in need of comfort. Some people recognize that blessed opportunity and some don’t. The difference between those groups has very little to do with which church they attend. The difference between those who seek to care for the afflicted and those who don’t is more a product of individual characteristics. A church can point out the way to go, but it is the members who must make the choice to walk that path.

It is hard to see why someone wouldn’t help those with obvious needs. I hope you will always be one who takes advantage of opportunities to help. If you are changed by the inactivity of you parents’ neighbors, let it be in the direction of resolving to never be like them in that way.