Healing Through My Survivor’s Guilt

Survivor’s guilt, survivor’s guilt and another burst of survivor’s guilt! Wondering if such a thing is real or true? Most definitely, and I deal with it anytime I’m notified, hear or see the passing away of another soul from breast cancer. 

So much comes with a diagnosis of cancer—treatments, surgeries, medications, financials, etc. To add guilt because you’ve been granted another day of life while someone else’s course has ended seems absurd. I’ve asked myself: Is it because of my empathetic soul that I struggle with guilt of still having breath in my body, or is that breath just truly a gift that so many take lightly until it hits home?

We’re all on borrowed time, another reason I shouldn’t struggle with the guilt of being alive, but when you know someone will no longer be able to laugh, smile, cry, walk the streets, hang with family or friends because of cancer, it’s hurtful and not only to the mind, but to the heart and soul. Memories are great while you’re making them, but when that memory becomes merely a memory, you sometimes have feelings of being up and down, depending on the day or time. 

When going through grief, it’s been said to express yourself and let it out, however sometimes you just don’t know how to or what to do because you’re still living and trying to stay afloat with life itself along with the emotions of surviving. For me, I’m processing more than the loss of someone dear or a mutual connection. My mind also starts replaying things, sometimes having me questioning and wondering: Will I be next? 

See the thing about guilt is there’s no right or wrong way to process it, nor is it something that can be cured, but you have to sit in it until you no longer feel it and it slowly begins to fade out. Even then, there’s those reminders because the mind and emotions are tricky.

I’ve learned some things will never fade, yet learning how to cope is the key to moving forward. Just as cancer leaves many things on the table, scars on the body, threatens our future and sometimes corrupt many lives by taking their loved ones… I think the trick is to never take life or people for granted. This is when survivor’s guilt turns into understanding the value of each day is a gift and cherishing it as if it were your last. 

I must understand that having life isn’t something I should feel guilty about and to live it, because living life actually allows us to live for those who we have lost. We may no longer be able to create or make the memories together anymore, but we can continue to make the memories that someone dear to us will need one day. 

There’s healing in creating your own legacy, and knowing this, I’m able to survive daily without being consumed with guilt. — Syreeta

Read more from the community on survivorship here!

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