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How to Overcome Survivor's Guilt

Devika enjoys sharing her work with a friendly community. Writing opens the mind. I live in a foreign country learned a foreign language .

Overcome Survivor’s Guilt

What is Survivor’s Guilt?

Individuals experience feelings of guilt after they have survived a dangerous situation. These can be life-threatening scenes of a murder or situations that others couldn’t survive. A common reaction as one would experience in a traumatic event.

The person begins to show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. I explain in detail about survivor’s guilt, the causes, the symptoms, and let you know everything else about how an individual is affected by the symptoms.

A traumatic event causes survivor’s guilt, this is caused by a death in a family. When one person in the family survived the attack and the others didn’t make it, is a pang of survival guilt.

The questions are ‘’why did you survive and the others didn’t?’’

Feelings of guilt quickly affect your mind. They feel that if only there was something they could have done to have avoided the life-threatening situation.

The traumatic event couldn’t have been prevented and something the survivor will not understand in their minds. Survivor's guilt is diagnosed as Post-trauma stress Disorder since it is a mental health issue, and it fits into this disorder.

Those who experience survivor’s guilt are war veterans or anyone who had survived the war or other traumatic experiences. This includes car accidents, witnesses to a murder, and natural disasters. A loss of a child and the parents feel guilty for that.

You must know that not everyone experiences survivor’s guilt.

The feeling of guilt comes over you when you survive a life-threatening event situation while others don’t survive it. That feeling that constantly bothers you surviving a tragedy and someone you loved has passed.

Why didn’t you do something to prevent that incident?

If there was something that you could have done to avoid it. This question in your mind makes you feel such guilt. In such a guilty feeling you have flashbacks of the trauma.

You become obsessive about these, ‘’what if, and what could have been.’’

  • Such questions make you irritable and angry.
  • You feel a disconnection with people and feel helpless in your own way.
  • A symptom of confusion and fear gets to you.
  • You do not feel motivated anymore.
  • You are not getting enough sleep.
  • Constant headaches from not sleeping properly.
  • Stomach aches, and feeling nauseous are some of your effects.
  • You isolate yourself and feel that being on your own is a better way to live this nightmare.
  • Suicidal thoughts are on your mind and when you think like that it is not safe for you.
  • People with Post-trauma stress disorder do not see themselves in a safe place.

Traumatic experiences give you a list of mental health issues. Someone with no support can go through survivor’s guilt.

Childhood abuse is one of those bad experiences that can make you feel survivor’s guilt.

You weren't abused but knew of a child who was abused. Anxiety or depression or other mental health issues are known causes to make you feel survivor's guilt.

If you have a family history of psychiatric issues that too can cause you to feel survivor’s guilt.

The use of a substance to avoid the pain is another major symptom that you may ignore. You know that you were not able to prevent the outcome of the event but feel guilty about what may have or could have done and this can destroy your well-being.

Many negative issues you think about can make the guilt increase in ways that you can’t control. Distress increases your chances of mental health issues. Some people survive quicker than others, some in a year, while others for three years.

People seeking professional help are those who have had severe or ongoing symptoms. It is hard for you to accept the feelings you go through when you witness a trauma or have lost someone through an illness. Survivors' guilt responds to any traumatic experience.

Time is required to process the information and to process feelings of all sorts before you begin to feel good again. Stay connected with a few people and turn to a support group.

Small communities or big communities can help each other overcome survivor’s guilt. Certain techniques such as breathing can help you overcome painful emotions.

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Self-care is the practice to feel better when taking long baths, reading, resting a bit, meditating, listening to music, and everything you do to make yourself feel good again is to avoid the negative thoughts from coming back to you.

Sleep well, have a balanced diet, do daily exercises, and avoid whatever makes feel numbed. One of the best ways to overcome survivor’s guilt is to talk about your experience to others. Do something good for others and forgive those who have done badly for you.

Mindfulness and self-care add to an important part of your life to overcome survivor’s guilt. You thank your lucky stars you survived or that nothing happened to you, but that guilt stays with you for a long time.

For example, It should have happened to you or why it didn’t happen to you.

Unscathed and feeling guilty about the experience and you tend to hold on to those guilty feelings. You can feel despair or bittersweet feelings, and that you were safe while the others suffered in their last moments.

  • There is no need to be harsh on yourself.
  • Avoid sadness and deal with the situation in a subtle way.
  • Face up to true emotions and prevent the guilt from hurting you so much.
  • Guilt keeps you in that position and moving on is a problem.
  • Survivors’ guilt doesn’t allow you to accept what had happened.

Some people want to be quiet and face up to their guilt while others feel the need to cry out and scream at someone. To be intense with emotions and to feel whichever way you want in surviving the ordeal. Think about others who are overjoyed to have you then be deeply sorrowed by your gift of life.

I know of people who have survived the guilt from the war times and who had difficulty coping with these experiences. It is something that nobody can explain and know what they have been through and live with it each day in the hope of what they could have done to change the trauma.

Keep in mind that no matter what makes you feel Survivor’s guilt there is nothing better than to be saved and to be grateful for being alive. Everything happens for a reason and sometimes you just have to accept life as it is.

Survivor's guilt


Survivor's Guilt

“Guilt isn't always a rational thing... Guilt is a weight that will crush you whether you deserve it or not.”

― Maureen Johnson

Overcome Survivor's Guilt

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Devika Primić


Devika Primić (author) from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 03, 2021:

Audrey Hunt so glad you came by Thank you

Devika Primić (author) from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 03, 2021:

Hi Ruby Jean Richert Thank you very much.

Devika Primić (author) from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 03, 2021:

manatita44, thank you kindly and I so appreciate your time.

Devika Primić (author) from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 03, 2021:

manatita44 Wow! Guilt is big and from what you mention here sounds awful! I read recently about a family murder and one member of the family survived and he blamed himself for that. He wasn't at home when it happened and that got him feeling guilty. Thank you.

Devika Primić (author) from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 03, 2021:

Hi Pamela thank you kindly for comments. Guilt is a burden to carry with you for a long time.

Devika Primić (author) from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 03, 2021:

Peggy Woods so glad you came by thank you.

Devika Primić (author) from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 03, 2021:

Thank you

Devika Primić (author) from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 03, 2021:

Hi Bill thank you and so pleased you stopped by. I try to keep up with comments, but seem to have missed a few hubs. Appreciate your time.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on March 02, 2021:

An excellent and revealing article about survivor's guilt. Thank you for addressing this important issue.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 02, 2021:

Guilt is an emotion that is real, and you've written an informative article with some good advice.

manatita44 from london on March 02, 2021:

In Yoga, the five cardinal vices are: Ahamkara (Ego), Kroda (Anger), lobo (Greed), Kama (Lust) and Moha (Attachments). Most of the other negative traits, including guilt, spring from one or more of them.

manatita44 from london on March 02, 2021:

Guilt is a big one. In relation to your writing, you have done a thorough and excellent job. But guilt is infinitely bigger than that! It is one of the first things that make humans worry about the afterlife. My spiritual mentor use to say, that each soul, before it leaves the body, feels sad that it has wasted time.

About Survivors guilt. We have had an extreme case recently. A young man did not take Covid-19 seriously and ended up giving it to his father, who died. The mother is battling in hospital and some more were affected. He was full of remorse. Anyway, when dad was being buried, it is said that some relatives pushed the young man into the grave. Lovely piece of writing!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 02, 2021:

This is excellent information, Devika. Guilt never feels good. I think your article can certainly help someone that is dealing with survivor's guilt as I know some people carry this with them for years.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 02, 2021:

Survivor's guilt can be debilitating for anyone suffering from it. Talking it out with others can help.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 02, 2021:

Interesting topic. Great information! Very helpful article, my friend.

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