Managing Survivor’s Guilt: Life After Trauma

This blog post will explore ‘what is survivor’s guilt’, the challenges survivor’s guilt creates in one’s life, and how to heal from survivor’s guilt afterward.

Survivor’s guilt may follow a traumatic experience that takes the life of someone you know or severely harms someone who was in the vicinity or area that you were in. This can include someone being in the car during a car accident, loss of life in combat, a mass shooting, or even natural disasters, i.e. the tornadoes that recently impacted Tennessee, click here to read more on the devastation experienced in the recent past.

Grief and Loss Related to Trauma

Survivor’s guilt can create grief and loss in the survivor or the person less harmed. Grief and loss are a natural part of life. However, when we lose someone unexpectedly these grief-related emotions can be amplified. On the other hand, if we don’t know the person who was killed, we can almost experience an illusion of grief and loss for the people that that person knew. We can be stuck wondering why I wasn’t the one killed or what makes me different than them that I wasn’t harmed.

Additionally, survivor’s guilt can occur when someone experiences significant injuries that occurred while engaged in an activity everyone partook in. We can find ourselves wondering did I miss something that could have prevented this accident?, how come I didn’t hit that tree on the slope too? Survivor’s guilt can be separate or entangled with the process of grief and loss.

Does Survivor’s Guilt Go Away?

It can and it can’t. We have seen some people go their entire lives harboring or avoiding the internal emotions of survivor’s guilt. Working with a trained Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist near you can help to heal these invisible wounds. Once these wounds are healed the related emotions are typically eliminated. However, anniversaries and birthdays can still bring up memories associated with the event. EMDR therapy only helps to heal and reprocess the dysfunctional aspects of an experience. 

EMDR Therapist near Colorado Springs, COStep into healing with EMDR therapy near Colorado Springs, CO.

As mentioned above, survivor’s guilt can occur from many different experiences throughout life.

If you experience any of the self-reflective questions in this blog post or ask yourself related questions, you may be dealing with survivor’s guilt. EMDR therapy is a gentle way to jump-start the body’s innate ability to heal. If you or someone you know is looking for an EMDR therapist, we currently have openings for both in-person and online therapy sessions. Click here to submit an online form or call us at 720.295.6703 to begin EMDR therapy. We look forward to hearing from you!

Location Map: 625 57th Street Kenosha, WI 53140

Contact Us Today

* All indicated fields must be completed.
Please include non-medical questions and correspondence only.

Office Hours

Monday - Friday: 9am - 9pm
Saturday & Sunday: 9am - 9pm

Accessibility Toolbar