survivor's guilt

How to Process Survivor's Guilt-3

As we talk about survivor's guilt, many people may identify with "not doing enough". They go over and over the incident and feel responsible for what they could have done. It's important to check your thinking and challenge your thoughts. Don't Give Into Negative Thinking

When you think about the disaster, it will be natural to think, "If I had just done this" or "I know I could have done more!" Those are all normal to the process of healing. Our minds need to look at the situation and process it. However, you want to really challenge the negative thoughts. In a disaster, there is usually too much for everyone to do. There is no way someone can do everything. Look at what you did do and know that you did enough.

Many people will feel they are to blame if someone died in their care. Remember- you did not cause the disaster. Someone or something else is to blame for it. In most cases people are doing everything they can. They just can't do enough. It's too overwhelming and not enough help.

It's important to allow yourself to grieve the fact that you couldn't help everyone. It's ok to grieve the feeling of loss that comes with not being able to do enough. Grieve the loss of safety and stability maybe you felt prior. Go over all your losses and grief them each individually.

It would be very helpful to do this step with a therapist. It's very hard to see when you are in the grief what is "normal" and ok. Many times we've been able to help someone see things in a different light and grieve what needs to be grieved. The pain will always be there but it becomes more manageable and easier to deal with when you get rid of the irrational thinking.

If you are reading this and have gone through a disaster, we are truly sorry. Our heart goes out to you. Please know there is help and hope!

Tomorrow Joleen will discuss ways to find support.

*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC, LCAC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling.  We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.

How to Process Survivor’s Guilt-2

As Christy explained yesterday, Survivor's Guilt is the struggle within ourselves that we're thankful we survived a traumatic event, while others perhaps did not survive. This week we not only want to explain Survivor's Guilt, but how to process and work through it. Recognize The Strengths You've Used in The Past

After a crisis or extremely stressful time, it's normal and common to feel emotionally fragile. It's times such as this when it's beneficial to recall how you've overcome other times of crisis and stress. What strengths got you through those times? Keep in mind those qualities will once again help you be resilient this time too.

Whenever I'm facing a stressful time, I recall the year my father passed away. I remember the strength, prayer and support from others (we'll talk more about that on Friday!) it took to help me survive that time. I always remind myself, "If I could get through that, I can get through this."

Please check back in as we'll give more ways to cope with Survivor's Guilt over the rest of this week. Thank you for reading.

Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

How to Process Survivor’s Guilt-1

Survivor’s guilt (or survivor’s remorse), is a term when someone feels they have done something wrong because they survived a traumatic event and others did not. This can occur in a variety of situations, including car accidents, robberies, an act of violence or terrorism, war, natural disasters, medical emergencies, etc. It’s the conflict of being thankful you’re still living while not understanding why you survived and others did not. Survivor’s guilt is often characterized by intense feelings of guilt, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, mood swings, loss of motivation, intense grief, obsessing over the incident, flashbacks, and nightmares. PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) can be present as well.

If you find yourself reading this week and identifying with any of the feelings or issues we discuss, we encourage you to seek professional help. No one should go through this alone!

Talk about it

After you experience a traumatic event, your first instinct may be to shut down and isolate. Trauma has a way of making you feel very alone in the world—and it changes the way you view your life and your priorities. What was important yesterday no longer matters today. Instead of withdrawing, you have to engage. Talk about what happened and tell your story to people who are safe—therapists, clergy, family/friends. It’s ok to tell your story multiple times, if it means you are processing through it. Fight the urge to shut down!

Find a sense of normalcy

Trauma takes your normal and turns it upside down in an instant. Fight to establish some normalcy as quickly as you can. Start exercising, working, and doing household chores as you can. It’s amazing how the brain is wired to crave routine. Don’t push yourself but slowly ease back into it. Things that you once enjoyed may not bring you as much pleasure now, but it doesn’t mean that the joy is forever gone. As time passes, you will once again feel glimpses of happiness and joy. Regain your power as you can and have patience for yourself.

Please check back this week as we discuss more issues related to survivor's guilt.

Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW

Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Christy enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Christy also provides family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.

Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.