Survivor’s guilt is something that some people feel when they survive a life-threatening situation that others didn’t. It is also a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder and one that can be all-consuming if steps aren’t taken to overcome it.
People with survivor’s guilt can experience flashbacks, obsessive thoughts, fear and confusion, sleep problems, headaches, social isolation, and even thoughts of suicide. If you have been involved in a traumatic incident that leads to a diagnosis of survivor’s guilt, here are a few of the many things you can do to help yourself.
Do Something Good
Many people who survive a traumatic event struggle with the idea that they are alive and well when others involved in the same event are not. While there are a variety of things you can do to help yourself, one that some people find quite helpful is doing something good.
You may decide to take emergency resuscitation lessons, CPR training, or a first aid course. These training courses benefit you if you’re concerned about being involved in another emergency, but they may also benefit others you may be able to help if that time comes. All that’s left to do now is decide how to select a qualified medical instructor.
Alongside receiving medical training, you may decide to become a more charitable person. You might consider making donations to organizations that need your help, donate blood, or lend support to others going through what you have experienced.
Seek Professional Help
For many, survivor’s guilt can be unbearable to live with. You may be angry, irritable, anxious, lacking motivation, or feeling disconnected from the world. These feelings can continue for months or years after an accident, which is why seeking help can be so important.
Thankfully, you don’t have to manage these emotions on your own. A trained therapist can help you work through your trauma while offering helpful management tools and techniques. Some of these might include mindfulness and meditation, which can help you accept the feelings and allow them to surface, no matter how uncomfortable they may be.
Practice Self Care
Being proactive in helping others, such as learning why you need an emergency medical course, can help many people manage their traumatic experiences. However, you also have to remember to do something for yourself.
Self-care is vital for your health and well-being, and small things can make you feel strong and happy. Even if you just make time for one nice action each day, you may be surprised at the benefit this can have.
Listen to soothing music, bake a cake, read in your favorite armchair with a warm beverage, or take a hot bath. Some people even find comfort in journaling, meditating, gardening, and fishing.
Consider Your Loved Ones’ Relief
Surviving a tragic accident may feel like a gift of which you’re not the deserving recipient. You are worthy of life and survival, even if you struggle to believe that you are.
If this is something that’s holding you back from living life to the fullest, think about the people in your life your loss would hurt and who are delighted that you are still here. As hard as it is for you to think about those who didn’t make it, it can be even harder to imagine the grief of your family if you also didn’t.
Understand What Happened
Just because you survived an accident and others didn’t, that doesn’t mean you are to blame. Even the version of events in your head may not accurately match the actual version of events. Take some time to work out what happened.
You may find that not only was the event not your fault but that it was no one’s fault. It’s not uncommon for people to experience survivor’s guilt for natural events like tsunamis and earthquakes.
Find a Support Network
After arriving home after a tragic accident, it’s easy to feel like no one understands what you’re going through. In truth, they may not. However, even though your family and friends may not be able to relate to your experience, they can be a source of support. Let them in to help.
Your support network can be made up of family and friends, coaches and mentors, and even trained therapists. You may also see the value in group sessions with people who have experienced events similar to your own. As much as you may not want to share your experiences for fear of being judged or seen as a burden, a support network can be necessary for managing survivor’s guilt.
Being involved in an accident or incident that leads to someone’s death can be a significant burden to bear. Sometimes, it can be even harder when you see the pain their loved ones are experiencing while you’re alive and well. As hard as this time of your life may be, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Practice self-care, do something good like emergency training and surround yourself with loved ones. You can make it through with time, patience, and help.