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Archive for October 29th, 2017

Survivor Guilt

I am feeling some survivor guilt and PTSD.  I know I am not alone.  Rational or irrational survivor guilt is normal.  The reaction and degree of survivor guilt varies from person to person.  Contributing factors to the intensity are: a history of trauma, existing depression, low self-esteem and lack of support.  Realize that relief and appreciation of your survival co-exists with grief.

Once singularly listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it is now listed under PTSD.  First identified in Holocaust survivors, it has come to include veterans of war, survivors of major catastrophic events (natural disasters, mass shootings/bombings etc.), and survivors of individual events (auto accidents, suicides, overdoses, etc.).

There are things that can be done to work through survivor guilt:

Accept your feelings.

Allow yourself to grieve.

Realize you are not alone.

Practice self-care: Physically move.

Good diet and rest are important.

Get involved in helping others, no gift is too small.

Talk with a good friend or Mentor about your feelings.

Seek professional help, individually or in a group.

I am not feeling like I did something wrong, or that I could have done more to prevent the disaster.  I am feeling lucky; I am feeling blessed that my family is safe and I still have a home. And, as I listen to my friends who have lost everything save their lives, I am heartened by their will to move forward and humbled by the power of their grief.

It is also true of the community at large.  The outpouring of support in every way imaginable (and some not so imaginable, like the homes moved here by Burning Man Festival Folks to help house the newly homeless) are inspiring and spiritually uplifting.

Traumatic tragedies often raise questions about life; it’s purpose and meaning, fairness and justice, it’s tenuousness and fragility.  These are questions of spirituality and faith.  The next several months and years will test our trust, our faith, our beliefs.

Sonoma Strong!