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Survivor’s guilt

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The pandemic has made us aware of the importance of psychological well-being during these times. Unlike physical health which affects us immediately is visible to others, psychological effects may at times be concealed or not evident. An individual undergoing them may wonder ‘does this need attention? maybe this is just a part and parcel of life, what if I tell my family members and they think I am weak or unfit? What if this adds to their stress?. These are doubts we may face at times.

In this article, we will discuss very important aspects that emerge as individuals, later on, open up regarding stress and worry associated with these times. Our concerns for our and our family’s health and any adversity that might occur are keeping us on guard. Those who undergo this adversity in form of death in the family of their loved ones experience an entire passage of thoughts and emotions. We empathize and understand how difficult coping with the loss of loved ones can be.

We need to know that our body and mind try to take care of this us just like our immune system protects us.

We may not believe that a loss has occurred at first. This is the mind’s way of coping with the shock gradually. As the awareness increases we begin to feel angry about circumstances, ‘why did this occur to my family, this is unfair, how can I tolerate this hideous event’. Slowly there is a shift to ‘ instead of my family’s end, it should have been me, they did not deserve it.’ This guilt is built on grounds of grief and is called the survivor’s guilt. This guilt is usually the mind’s response to trauma.

Just like when we hurt ourselves from a fall and it takes time for the wound to heal and we need not even instruct our body to begin the clotting process similar is the mechanism of the mind wherein we begin grieving and oozing at first and then take some time to heal naturally.

However, if it gets very disturbing and prolonged for the recovery then here are some guidelines to keep in mind:-

  1. Speak to a mental health professional- in therapy allowing the individual to grieve is extremely important as it gives the individual some room to overcome that feeling gradually, accept it step by step, and begin their journey. Therapy helps to realize ‘this may be a pause in our lives, but is certainly not a full stop.’
  2. As we begin to feel the strength again it is important to remember our mind and body are still recuperating. With a wound on your leg, it may be advisable to not overuse that leg muscle. Therefore begin doing things that correctly relax you. Some aids that can come in handy here are engaging in guided meditation, mindfulness approaches, keeping a log of our thoughts and feelings. One way to minimize devastating feelings is by creating the opposite of them. One such feeling is created from gratitude and prayers. It may seem a little hard, but if we start we will certainly get somewhere.
  3. Acknowledge and validate your feelings. They are real, they are a response to a real event. Compassion towards others is no good if we don’t feel any for ourselves. With compassion and acceptance begins the walk towards change.

Psychological concerns are still battling stigmas of being judged by society, but with the openness, everyone has shown towards them especially during these times, we have to say it’s an upward graph of accepting our mental health as being as important as our physical health. If you feel the need to reach out to us, we are a call away. You are in a safe space to explore your mental health.

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