The guilt of being alive… click here for more…
“A Philadelphia woman who was wounded in the attack on a gay nightclub in Florida this weekend read a poem to reporters on Tuesday that expressed feelings of guilt about surviving the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Patience Carter, 20, was shot in the leg during the rampage at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning and is expected to recover. Carter’s friend, 18-year-old Akyra Murray, and 48 other people did not survive.”
Veterans who served in hard combat will tell you that survivors guilt is a lifetime of emotional pain. Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story.
“When Dad completed his shore patrol assignment in Hawaii in the summer of 1943, it had been almost two years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was able to return home briefly for a few weeks before returning to war in the Pacific. He was promoted to Chief Petty Officer (BMC) early in 1943 and subsequently assigned to the USS Belle Grove (LSD2). He was on the commissioning crew of August 9, 1943. Dad was one of three Pearl Harbor survivors on the BG. He was held in high esteem. The BG would become one of the most decorated war ships in the Pacific Asiatic Theater serving in 7 campaigns, included the now famous Iwo Jima battle. LSD means Landing Ship Dock. These mighty ships were cleverly designed as a sea going ship repair station deployed in the campaigns to repair damaged ships at sea, land marines on the beach, and to recover the wounded and killed.
These men, heroes to be sure, who landed on the beaches of places like Iwo Jima, knew they were given a 50% or less chance of survival. My dad carried marines onto shore and risked his life as well, but never felt he was a hero or was doing what his fellow marines had to do. In other words, he wasn’t exactly on a suicide mission like the rest, so he as well as most sailors felt guilty most of the time for being alive. This kind of guilt lives with men following the war for the rest of their lives. It is one of the symptoms creating the conditions for PTSD. Interesting but tragically, the feeling of guilt also lives with the abused spouses and children of surviving combat veterans. Guilt is evident in most cases of PTSD whether from combat, surviving an accident where others were killed, or from living in a toxic family culture as a survivor of long term abuse.”
Of all the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, survivors guilt, stacks up as being one of the worst nightmares, leading to chronic depression, anxiety, and anger. When a survivor, as your loved one or friend, has a panic attack or an outburst of anger, please be sensitive and provide a calming response. The behaviors of survivors reflect a profound and almost never ending grieving process that can linger for a lifetime. It takes significant awareness, love, empathy, and compassion on the part of family members and friends to help a trauma survivor through a severe episode of extreme guilt that is hidden in the soul and mind. Survivors suffer from moral injury and must grieve. Loved ones can help by being extra sensitive to the circumstances and needs of those who suffer from survivors guilt.
Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2. Click the highlighted text for my author page to order books and other stuff.