Survivors guilt is “when a person has feelings of guilt because they survived a life-threatening situation when others did not. It is a common reaction to traumatic events and a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)”.
Along those same lines – many right now may be feeling something similar, knowing they either aren’t sick, or they are still employed when so many others are facing unemployment and severe financial hardship.
First – Let’s acknowledge those feelings. They are normal and any person with a shred of empathy likely shares your sentiment during this time. It’s fine to feel that way – but I want to caution people to recognize the feelings and instead of feeling depressed, hopeless, or a debilitating sense of overwhelm, try and take control of your situation.
- Ensure your (and your family’s) needs are prioritized and met. Only when you are stable and able to breathe easy can you help anyone else. If you never had a budget – now is a great time to create one and know how much you are spending.
- Start close to home. Check with your friends, family members and those closest to you. Ask those questions of “are you ok financially” or “can I be of assistance during this time?” so that the bridge can be built for honest dialogue.
Maybe someone needs a meal ordered and delivered to them.
Maybe an at risk person needs someone to go get them groceries or supplies.
Perhaps you send a virtual gift card to a family member or friend who is out of work.
Help those people, even if it’s just spending some time listening to their worries.
- Expand your reach. Once you feel certain those closest to you are provided for – turn your gaze to your next level of contacts.
Have you perhaps checked with your coworkers to see if they and their families are ok?
Can you donate to a local food bank to help purchase meals for others?
Can you help a small business right now by purchasing some “future” services to keep them afloat during this time?
Perhaps you decorate your interior windows with some scenes of nature, or a funny picture so passersby can see some beauty or humor.
Maybe you take the time to go through your home and downsize during the extra hours indoors – then at the end of this, take the donations to somewhere local since people will need those free items now, more than ever, when this is over.
- Remain calm, sensible and positive. There’s enough press and social media negativity without adding to the collective panic. Don’t lose your sense of humor, or sense of compassion. One thing you can do for others right now is just be a beacon of hope. Let others see you being a healthy, productive (indoors mostly) member of society and it (can) hopefully help spread the same feelings of peacefulness and reassurance. Don’t underestimate the need for people to feel normal. It’s ok for people to be frightened or worried – just be a listening ear for their concerns and help them see the good that they can still do/take part in, even now.