Survivor’s guilt causes an endless loop of questions: What is the meaning of all this? What is good and what is evil? Did I do – or say – enough? Why am I here? Or why am I still here?
It’s Thanksgiving this weekend in Canada, and that means it’s also the anniversary of the event that introduced survivor’s guilt into my life. In this week’s podcast, I felt compelled to share with you what that journey has been like in the context of reconciling my difficult emotions with giving thanks and gratitude each year.
“Survivor’s guilt, like all grief, is like an old coat. It always stays in your closet. It’s the one that you can’t quite get rid of. You can’t throw it away because every time you pull it out, you look at it, you touch it, you feel it, and it’s associated with your memories of something or someone that you loved or believed in that’s now gone. And sometimes you pick up that coat and put it back on and you allow it to cloak you in those feelings so that you can be connected to them. And then other days, and as time goes on, more frequently you’ll leave that coat in the closet knowing that it’s there and it’s not going anywhere, but being okay with carrying on, knowing that you were transformed by that experience.”
It might not be you. But I guarantee that you know someone who lives with survivor’s guilt. The thing is, they don’t talk about it. It sets them apart. Leaves them feeling marginalized. Unworthy.
This is no way to live. Sadder yet, if you haven’t experienced it, there is nothing you can say to someone with survivor’s guilt that will make them feel better.
But it’s possible that I can.
Please share this podcast if you know someone who might need to hear it. I’ve included a downloadable transcript for people who prefer reading to listening.
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