SURVIVOR GUILT IS REAL
Let’s face it! Harvey was a monster that wreaked havoc on Southeastern Texas. If you live in the impact zones and have been able to walk away with your family and possessions at least mostly unscathed by the loss and destruction associated with the storm…
CONGRATULATIONS–YOU ARE A SURVIVOR!
As a survivor of such a tragic and traumatic event, there is a good chance you may wrestle with survivor guilt.
SURVIVAL GUILT, in its most basic definition, is a sense of guilt over the fact that you are okay when so many others aren’t. It can lead to unwarranted stress, despair, and even depression.
I want you to know that it is okay!
ITS OKAY TO BE UPSET OVER WHAT YOU LOST
One of my air conditioner units went out during the storm. I am completely BUMMED about what this loss means to me and my family-yet part of me feels guilty when I compare it to the magnitude of the loss around me. My loss is personal and I grieve it–and THAT’S OKAY!
Life is not a game of “whomever has the biggest loss is the only one allowed to be upset”. Don’t let survivor guilt tell you that you shouldn’t grieve your loss! Out of respect, you might not want to complain about the inconvenience too much around someone who had to place their whole house on the curb, but its OKAY to grieve your own losses no matter how small they are in comparison to the loss others have experienced!
ITS OKAY TO WANT TO ‘GET BACK TO NORMAL’
Yesterday I scheduled my daughters driving test for her to get her license. This is a rite of passage and a normal activity that prior to the devastation of the storm would have brought nothing but immense joy (and maybe a little trepidation) to my heart and mind. Sadly, my joy was mixed with guilt.
I didn’t share it on social media because I was afraid this very normal and joyous part of my family’s life might be bitter to those who were dealing with such trauma and loss.
Just like its okay for me to get things back to normal, it is also okay for me to be cautious about what I share on social media. I chose not to post it for the world to see out of respect for the losses around me, not out of guilt becuase there was something good happening in our lives–there is a difference!
The people of our community are still wounded and traumatized. Slowly stores are attempting to keep normal hours and grocery shelves aren’t as bare. School starts back on Tuesday. Slowly a normal routine is creeping back in. This is a good thing because a level of healing comes with normalcy and routine! It will even be good for those who are working to find ‘new normal’ as they piece their lives back together.
ITS OKAY TO TURN OF THE MEDIA COVERAGE
We spent days glued to the television and social media so we would know if we were going to be safe or not. In the midst of it, we saw much tragedy that was traumatizing. We no longer have to have that trauma ‘in our face’. Turn off the news and enjoy the sunshine! Those who have lost much have to have it in their face the whole time, but if your loss wasn’t HUGE, then it’s okay to walk away and decompress! Go back to it when you need to but the eminent need and danger is over.
ITS OKAY TO HELP–ITS OKAY TO NOT HELP
When tragedies happen, many people will allow survivor guilt to push them in to helping. Others experience survivor guilt in a way that causes them to isolate and avoid anything to do with those who have lost so much. Anything motivated by guilt probably isn’t good. Its okay to help or not help–just make sure your aren’t doing either one as a penance for guilt.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS: ITS OKAY TO BE OKAY
Yep–you heard (or read) me right! Its okay to be okay. Furthermore, its okay to be happy that you are okay! The fact that the winds and waters spared you, your loved ones, and your belongings is an amazing blessing–treasure it! Even though you may have prayed for God to shift the winds and rain to spare your home, you weren’t asking for those same winds and rains to pummel your friends’ and neighbors’ homes. The protection of your home was NOT at the expense of your someone else’s. Don’t allow survivor guilt to steal your blessing!