no one fights alone pinI find myself drawn to others who I share a common bond with. Mommihood is an easy bond. Or standing shoulder-to-shoulder with anyone who has pulled themselves through dark times to see a brighter day is rewarding as well. I feel welcomed in both of these circles.

A few years ago I became a member of another group: the brain tumor survivors group. Members of this tight-knit community come in all shapes and sizes, ages and socioeconomic classes. Within our differences, we still have one thing in common: survival. We each have our own story of frustration that comes with healing. We are represented with symbols (like gray ribbons) and cute sayings (“Gray Matter Matters,” for example). These reminders make me smile and appreciate my victory. But sometimes I forget the seriousness within all the cuteness. Last week the news of a young woman’s death due to a brain tumor permeated our tight-knit community. I had only met this woman on-line and had limited interaction with her, yet when I heard the news I sobbed.

When I told my husband about her passing, my words didn’t seem to convey the situation or my feelings. I barely knew this woman–why had her death affected me so deeply?

After a period of solitude, realization hit. I had survived and she didn’t. Survivor’s guilt found a home in my heart.

Not everyone suffers from Survival’s guilt. But if you have ever been involved in a life-threatening event and have lived to tell about it, guilt may find your door–and it can be overpowering.

I am still deeply saddened by the death of this young woman. But my relationship with God helps me overcome the guilt.

If you have you ever suffered from Survivor’s guilt, what wisdom could you share with others to help them see the other side?

2 thoughts on “Why Wasn’t It Me?

  1. I have been surviving GBM IV for 6.5 years so far. I have never wondered why, why I got this cancer; after all I was low risk. I have never thought that those that live a high-risk life deserve to get this. I have watched too many die from this destroyer of dreams, lives, along with their family and friends.
    Once In a while I wonder why I have survived, I think that is a normal emotion to go through.
    Through my years as a psychotherapist I have met many personality types. When it comes to survivor’s guilt, there is a hypothetical sliding scale you could measure anyone’s emotions on for comparison. The thing to remember is, it’s always fluid and possibly changes with a triggering stimulus.
    The best thing I would say is, you always have a choice. You can spin this into a positive paradigm, or move ahead in sadness.
    You should allow for those feelings and acknowledge them. It is a healthy way not to compromise your health.
    We all suffer from stress having a terminal diagnosis, in my research I have come to believe that stress is the number one cause of disease.
    There is much to say about healing and positive and negative energy. While some scoff they most likely have not researched this. Mine also comes from being a surviving member of GBM. I know what I did to survive. You might have noticed that I try to avoid the word “survivor”. It’s because everyday we are surviving it is more than a one-day occurrence. I know semantics…
    I had an abnormal MRI 3 weeks ago I am having another one on Dec 1st although this caused a lot of cognitive dissonance I finally got my senses back and back to believing I will overcome.
    We have each other to help overcome this world and to give hope when there seems to be none.
    Randall K Hixson

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