Survivor’s Guilt

December 1, 2016

It’s called survivor’s guilt – that feeling of guilt for having survived.

I had this in hospital often, especially when I would make friends with someone else on my ward and then was allowed to leave before they did. I get it often when I walk down the street and remember that I have a freedom that most in hospital are not afforded. I get it when I am running on the treadmill and realise that there are people lying in a hospital bed wishing for this possibility. I got this pang of guilt a few months ago when I forced my way out of hospital because I found it pointless to wait in hospital if I could wait for my bowels to start working at home.

For those of you who’ve felt it, you will know how powerful this feeling is and if you are anything like me, it will be a relief to find out what ‘survivor’s guilt’ is because it make sense of such a confusing feeling. You are leaving the hospital and instead of being happy, you feel sad? But once someone tells you about it you realise it’s not your own sadness, but sadness for someone else… Which leads to guilt.

It’s a powerful feeling but one which is not your fault. Let it go. I believe you pay your respects to those in hospital by living your life to the fullest and so that’s how I keep it at bay. Whilst I am in hospital, I never begrudge others of their freedom, so I hope it works vice versa. When I’m in hospital, I only begrudge those who sit and complain completely unaware of how good they have it and so I do my best not to do that. That’s all you owe to those who are less able, to make the most of your good fortune. Run for those you can’t, move for those who can’t, live life to the fullest for those who are limited.