Dealing With Survivor’s Guilt and Moving on With Your Life

If you’re suffering from survivor’s guilt, you may feel the need to regain control but aren’t sure how. Though challenging, it’s certainly worth the effort to repair the pain in your heart. You can find support and strengthen yourself.

What Is Survivor’s Guilt?

If you’ve never heard the term “survivor’s guilt” before, you’re not alone. The condition is not discussed frequently enough. Simply put, it’s a condition where you feel sad and possibly even to blame for surviving an incident others did not make it out of.

You might be experiencing it as a result of a military encounter, where others in your group died and you escaped unscathed. You might also have developed survivor’s guilt from a civilian circumstance. For example, you might have been caught up in the middle of criminal activity where others were killed by the perpetrator, but you weren’t.

Is It My Fault?

The first step in healing is to recognize that it’s not your fault. You’re not to blame for what happened to the others, nor is it your fault you survived. Remaining in a guilt-ridden state will not bring back the others, nor will it help anyone — yourself included.

What Should I Do?

There are many ways to cope with your guilt. Several factors will influence the best choices for you, such as:

  • Circumstance
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Mobility and connectivity
  • Severity
  • Schedule

For example, if you were in the military, you might have resources available via the VA that those with other situations don’t. Additionally, you might find support groups based on age or gender to be more helpful instead.

As for mobility and connectivity, these will influence how you can interact with others for support. Can you attend local groups, or do you have the ability to join an online support group? Your schedule will also affect when you can connect with support resources.

If your guilt is extreme, you might want to look into counseling to help you cope with the worst of it. Then, the other resources may bring more value.

No matter what, you have a wide range of choices regarding your treatment. Begin by recognizing it’s a process that will take time, and then consider finding a positive resource to help you.

Tools for Recovery

It’s important to take care of yourself so you can recover. Eat healthy foods and get the appropriate amount of rest. Practice meditation daily and learn deep breathing techniques. Also, look for positive and uplifting audio messages to listen to during your commute or down time.

Another tool you might want to utilize is a journal. Journaling lets you log your feelings and thoughts in a safe place. You might consider getting a plant or small fish to take care of as well. As far as plants go, cacti and air plants are low-maintenance choices that can spruce up any room and give you a way to focus outside of yourself.

You might not want to implement all of these ideas, of course. Pick and choose those most appropriate for you and begin to let go of your pain and grow as a survivor.

Contact 12 Keys for Help

Often, those dealing with survivor’s guilt turn to drugs and alcohol for relief, eventually finding themselves trapped in addiction. If this is you, 12 Keys can help. Contact our compassionate, caring staff for a personal, confidential consultation today.

The Addiction Blog