healing from moral injury

Moral Injury — An Event that Violates Deeply Held Moral Beliefs or Values

21 July 2021

2.2 MINS

Moral injury is an event that violates deeply-held moral beliefs or values. It can cause a profound psychological distress that results from actions, or lack of them, which deeply impacts one’s moral code. (Williamson, Murphy and Greenberg, 2020)

It may be something I have done, deeply personal and not necessarily known to any person other than myself. It may be something I have done that involves others, even without them ever knowing. It may be something that has been done to me or I have witnessed done to others. It may be something that I have been compelled or obliged to do by others with the power to enforce it, or because they did not support me as they ought.

It may at times simply be the “failure” or not having the capacity and time to give assistance or care when such was necessary. It is more than “just” a traumatic event. It is also something more than “just” guilt, although this may also have to be dealt with. Even when the event involves no actual physical describable trauma, it is still a violation and it needs to be recognised as such as part of recovery.

Recognising/acknowledging the reality/truth of what happened, that it was more than just a traumatic or tragic event, that it ran in opposition to deeply held morals, that it was the result of a deliberate, non-accidental, course of action that was in conflict with those morals — even if it seemed there was no other course of action when it might have been the lesser of two evils — is required for recovery to occur.

One has to recognise the difference between this distress and other traumatic events; and recognise the “normality” of the particular distress. “Oh! So that’s why I feel so bad.” “Oh, that’s such a relief.”

And that might be all that is needed for spontaneous — even if guided — recovery to occur. For others, recovery may be protracted and intense, and the following may be helpful:

  • What happened? Tell me the story. How did it come about? This is what I remember.
  • Why? Further detail regarding circumstances. Was it preventable? Might it have happened differently?
  • If only’s
  • Anger (at significant others, those in authority, doctor, hospital, self, God)
  • Resentments & Appreciations (were there any?)
  • Unfinished business
  • Guilt
  • Mourning/crying/grieving/agony/lament.
  • Goodbye. May take many years. Including to ongoing relationships and privileges.
  • Letting go e.g. as per the Serenity Prayer
  • Hello to the future (to relationships at a different level; to new relationships; to wholeness and freedom)
  • Forgiveness of others and self (if necessary and as appropriate; is incomplete until we have acknowledged wrong and felt appropriate agony and anger and anguish and grief)

The above may be expressed as a diary entry to self or God, or a letter to God, or to parents, spouse, deceased, significant others — or just a written record.

Feelings are to be felt rather than analysed, and not judged according to rightness or wrongness. Mixtures of feelings all at the one time are OK.

“Staging” is artificial. We can move back and forth through the whole spectrum and this is also OK.

The use of the empty chair technique may be helpful in some of these categories.


See Luke’s Journal, Vol. 26 No. 1, February 2021, Moral Injury Conference.
Originally published at Choose Life Australia.
Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash.


We need your help. The continued existence of the Daily Declaration depends on the generosity of readers like you. Donate now. The Daily Declaration is committed to keeping our site free of advertising so we can stay independent and continue to stand for the truth.

Fake news and big-tech censorship make the work of the Canberra Declaration and our Christian news site the Daily Declaration more important than ever. Take a stand for family, faith, freedom, life, and truth. Support us as we shine a light in the darkness. Donate today.


Leave A Comment

Recent Articles

  • 29 June 2022

    11.4 MINS

    The fresh anti-discrimination legislation in the Australian Capital Territory will reduce religious freedom even further, applying the strictures upon faith-based schools to other religious institutions like hospitals and aged care, and even places of worship or university student societies. The Australian Capital Territory government has [...]

  • 28 June 2022

    6.5 MINS

    Samuel L. Jackson took a potshot at Justice Clarence Thomas, without understanding the legal foundations of his judgement. Here is a cogent summary of the majority opinion's reasoning in the recent Supreme Court case overturning Roe v. Wade. Ever since the Supreme Court in the [...]

  • 27 June 2022

    6.2 MINS

    What a momentous decision this was, a win for democracy and humanity. The SCOTUS judges responsible for overturning Roe v Wade are to be commended for their courage and clear legal thinking. While the pro-abortion Left threatens further violence, we must begin to rebuild the [...]

  • 27 June 2022

    4.5 MINS

    There is a close parallel between the racist reasoning of those who advocated for African-American slavery, and the amoral arguments used today in support of abortion. And especially to many civil rights advocates, the connection between the two issues couldn’t be more clear. As Norma [...]

  • 27 June 2022

    3.1 MINS

    The fallout from the Roe v Wade revocation in the United States continues. The pro-abortion lobby has been devastated by the change, while pro-lifers celebrate perhaps their biggest victory ever. What implications can we expect from the recent landmark decision? More importantly, what can we [...]

  • 27 June 2022

    3.4 MINS

    Donald Trump was instrumental in placing judges on the Supreme Court who acted on the fact that Roe vs. Wade was based on bad legal reasoning. Yet, he gives all credit to God for the astounding developments last Friday. The unconstitutional decision of Roe vs. [...]

  • 27 June 2022

    3.9 MINS

    The global fight against the evil of abortion has just been given a huge boost by the overturning of Roe v. Wade. This major victory shows that it is possible to overcome the culture of death with the culture of life, with much patience, prayer [...]