A Better Name for Survivor Guilt - Part III

Guilt is the unpleasant emotion that arises when you’ve done something wrong. In my April 7th post, I offered 8 things survivors may feel guilty about after the death of someone else from the same disease.

The first two -- (1) surviving and (2) suffering less than other patients -- are illogical and relatively easily dismissed. Your survival can't affect others' survival. You haven’t done anything wrong by surviving or having an easier time of it. Period.

The next five bullets outline common thoughts and feelings, such as relief it wasn't you or blaming the patient for the illness. You've done nothing wrong by having a thought or feeling (even an embarrassing or ignoble one), unless you've acted on it in a way deemed "wrong." 

Harmless normal thoughts and feelings may still cause you distress. If so, try interpreting your discomfort as a signal of an issue that may need some attention. Then talk with someone with the experience and expertise who can help you understand and respond in healing ways.  

What about the last bullet: not savoring every second of life? You’re living in a world filled with responsibilities and gumption traps (situations that drain energy). You are human. It’s natural to lose the Zen of reordered priorities while in the midst of life’s daily ups and downs. And that's okay. Try transforming any sense of guilt into heightened gratitude for all that is good in your life.  Even unpleasant times may feel less painful if perceived as proof you are still here.

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