Survivor’s Guilt…Anyone who has gone through watching someone die of cancer or any death knows what I mean.
If you are the caretaker the many things that go through your head every day about the one you love is like war. In war there are casualties and in the military death is a reality every day. In illness, disease, and accidental death is a reality every day. The surviving spouse/partner/caretaker/family member, or in war, the surviving members of a military unit have what’s called survivor guilt.
Survivor Guilt is the belief you feel you failed to save or why didn’t you die too.
Others who are not there do not understand the war. They have feelings about the war and opinions about the war but they are not and have not been in the war. This makes for a difficult healing process for those who return from war and those who watched a disease, illness, or accident take it all. And in this war the results are the same…The guilt hides and manifests itself in different ways for each person.
Anger, quiet regression from everyone and everything, self hate, overwhelming desire to disappear, snapping at others, the list is huge and when it goes untreated or not understood by loved one’s it makes the torment that much deeper.
While there is no excuse for some of the above listed when levied upon others, but it at least allows you to recognize that something isn’t right. I have done everything on the list above. It isn’t pretty and I will probably never be cured from the life I watched ebb away.
Survivor’s guilt has made me less human in many ways.
Now…Saying all of this doesn’t mean my hurt or those returning from actual war’s hurt is worth more than others who have suffered loss… <<<<<PLEASE READ THIS STATEMENT TWICE!!!
The loss is just processed differently.
I have hurt others with my actions after the loss of my wife. I have not been the perfect man in her absence but I understand that I am this way and probably won’t be able to let go of this guilt for a long time. I think it is part of my burden I am supposed to carry.
While my heart is apologetic because it knows it must apologize…My brain hates the fact that I am still here and living a life we should be living together. There is nothing I can do to fix this gulf between my heart and brain except change my entire life so that nothing around me is recognizable.
How pained does one have to be to come to this conclusion?
Every night I reach over to her side of the bed and pretend to hold her hand. It’s all I have left. There are no late night kisses or cold feet to tease me with…It’s just an empty bed and emptier soul laying there wishing she was still here.
The brokenness is an unimaginable constant torment.
Writing this and admitting my guilt and my faults is not an easy task. I believe my wife would want to know that I have tried to do my best for her and do what I must to find an hour of relief that marks the beginning of the end of my guilt.
I hope writing this helps others who are going through this very same thing.
You are not alone.