I 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?