Survivor Guilt

Yesterday, I wrote about ‘Survivor Syndrome’ but today I want to say something about one aspect of the problem, that of ‘survivor guilt.’  When a person has lost many of his or her loved ones or companions (soldiers), the survivor often experiences the strong feeling, “I should be with them.”  Sometimes, the survivor identifies more with the dead than the living and feels closer to them than to other survivors.  Survivors feel like failures for not being able to save others, even though that was probably impossible.

Survivor guilt can last forever.  They often feel like being alive is a betrayal of those who died – those feelings accounts for some of the guilt.

You can see survivor guilt in a much milder, less traumatic form when one person has left others behind, whether that means she or he has left home, succeeded beyond the others, or found their way out of a bad (country, home, work, family) situation. It takes the pleasure out of their success and leaves them sad.  Anytime we leave a situation, even a difficult one, guilt and sadness can be present.

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