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The Spiritual Crisis of Parkinson's Disease


Updated August 17, 2009

Most people who receive a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease ask: Why me? Challenges like PD often raise deep emotional-even philosophical, issues. The affliction seems to indicate that the universe is fundamentally unfair or even hostile. How does one cope with these sorts of deep and unsettling questions? For people with strong spiritual and religious commitments similar questions are raised. Why has God allowed this to happen to me? Am I being punished? Can I get angry at God for allowing this to happen? There are no easy answers to these questions. Each person, each family will need to work out their own answers to these questions. No one can do it for you. Trusted counselors, pastors, friends and family members can help, but fundamentally the answer has to come from you.

The experience of most people with PD suggests, however, that God, (or however you conceive of a higher spirit) is just as outraged as you are that this suffering has come to you and your family. A loving God does not punish people with afflictions like PD. You are not to feel guilty for this illness. Guilt should be let go of. You are allowed to get angry at God or the universe. It is a natural healthy response.

Once expressed, you may find that you want to move beyond the anger or channel the anger into positive coping behaviors like exercise, advocacy or study.

If your spiritual life involves a relationship with a higher being, then conversations with that being appear to help. God apparently will accompany you on your journey through PD and help you cope with all the challenges PD will throw at you. If ‘God’ is not a part of your spiritual picture, there are other sources of positive, life-affirming, strength that lie deep within and without you. You can tap these sources of positive strength to help carry you through the journey with PD.

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