How to Cope with Survivor’s Guilt

Nov 24, 2021 | Trauma Therapy

When a loved one passes, those left behind are left with grief, pain, and the task of navigating through life in a new way. If you are having thoughts like “why them?” or “why not me?” you might be experiencing survivor’s guilt. This is a common reaction that is uncovered during trauma therapy sessions. 

What is Survivor’s Guilt?

In simple terms, it is exactly what it sounds like. You feel guilty for surviving an accident or other trauma where others died. Feelings of survivor’s guilt are basically the same for everyone; however, the duration and the intensity of symptoms vary from individual to individual. Events that could result in someone experiencing survivor’s guilt include an act of violence, a natural disaster, war, an overdose, surviving an illness, or other trauma resulting in death. It is also possible to feel guilt even if you were not present at the time of the incident because you feel that if you were there, you could have prevented it somehow. 

What Can I Do?

In addition to getting involved in therapy for your trauma, there are some things you can do outside of therapy to help with your healing process.

  • Understand that you are not alone. You may feel alone in your grief, but there are others who are experiencing or have experienced what you are right now.
  • Accept what you are feeling and grieve the loss.
  • Try not to focus on the “why.” That is a question that can never be understood, and your energy could be better utilized in your healing journey. 

Healing Begins with West Michigan Psychological Services

When therapy for trauma is what you are looking for, West Michigan has the diverse experience to help guide you to healing. Our services are not limited to providing trauma therapy for adults. We provide therapy for trauma victims of all ages. Virtual and in-person appointments are available to serve you better. Call (616) 952-9957 now to request an appointment, or click here to complete the request online.