The Cure for Survivor's Guilt

The Cure for Survivor's Guilt

Whether you have actual or existential survivor’s guilt, it usually comes in the form of a question like, “Why am I allowed to live while the person who died does not?” It’s a fair question, but the tendency is to stop there. To just live with the question and let it haunt you and torment you is not fair.Some will punish themselves with it for the rest of their lives. That’s really sad and no way to live or honor the person that died. The more courageous challenge is to actually answer the question.

Permission to Cry

I often hear people qualify their days after experiencing a death or other loss as good or bad based on whether or not they cried with the crying days being the "bad" ones. I don't look at it that way. I see crying a good and positive thing and a healthy person's response to emotional pain as well as a necessary part of the grieving process*.

It’s Not Time That Heals All Wounds

I will agree that we need time to grieve and mourn, but it is not time that does the job of healing. If we do not do the necessary grief work (accepting the reality of the loss, experiencing the pain, making the necessary adjustments and creating meaning from the loss), we will end up with what Alan Wolfelt calls "carried grief." Carried grief is when you do not mourn your loss and take the pain with you into everyday of your life.

Thoughts on Kübler-Ross' Stages of Grief

In my work as a grief counselor, I have found that while many of my clients already know the stages of grief, it does not seem to be enough for them. The stages are something that happens to you. They aren’t something that can be controlled or predicted. Most people find that not only do the stages not occur in the "right order," but more than one can be experienced at the same time and it is likely that one or more of them are not experienced at all.

Advice For Grieving Parents

You are living out one of most people’s greatest fear. This is why some of your closest friends or family might be acting standoffish or even disappear. They don’t mean to be mean or neglectful, but it doesn’t hurt any less. Many times they want to be there for you but simply don’t know how. However, if you let them, there are people in your life who can be there for you, champion you, stand by you and will not be afraid to talk about this or go through this fully with you.