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Author Topic: Survivor's Guilt  (Read 3828 times)

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Offline Jeffreyj

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  • Posts: 1,403
Survivor's Guilt
« on: January 24, 2007, 05:47:22 PM »
As I begin my 23rd year being positive, I have been reflecting a bit. I am still amazed that I'm here. I feel guilty being here, however. I can't seem to get that thought out of my head. "Why me?" It drives me crazy.
I totally appreciate the fact I'm here, don't get me wrong. But it has been extremely painful to watch so many go before me. Especially my wife wife of 15 years who passed away in 1999.

Does anyone else have this feeling of guilt? If so, how do you deal with it.

I believe that God has a plan, and that helps me somewhat. But these guilty feelings just don't go away.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Positive since 1985

Offline Joe K

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2007, 06:32:55 PM »
Hey Jeffery,

I understand your feelings as I am also starting my 23rd year of being poz, yet from my perspective you only have two options.  One is to deal with them and the other is to just ignore them and remain crazy.  Have you had this feeling all along or is it just more pronounced since the death of your wife?  if it is more recent, then maybe you just need to talk with someone to help you sort out your feelings.  These feelings are normal and how can you not mourn the loss of someone so close.  Jeff, I cannot imagine how i would continue if I were to lose my husband, Stephen, yet go on I would and it would appear, so are you.  So now the question becomes, is this how you want to live the rest of your life???

I share your feelings that we are here for a purpose and might I suggest that you need to find yours.  Rather than going crazy about something you really cannot change (acceptance) why not find something to channel your energy into?  I think that your wife would want you to have a happy life, even when she cannot be there to share it with you.  Surely you don't believe that you are incapable of finding someone else, or just redefining yourself and starting a new life?  You do not need permission to wilt away and die, but your post suggests that is not your intent, so you need to find a way to live with these feelings and toward that goal, may I offer the following:

My friend, I do not know why we are here when so many others have been taken from us.  What I do know however, is that the people who passed before me left me with such a will to live, that I believe my survival is a testament to their memory.  Our loved ones would insist on our persevering and so I continue on, because deep down I know that I can do not less in their memory, even if it will never remove the loss from my soul.

Be well my friend.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2007, 06:44:21 PM by killfoile »

Offline dtwpuck

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  • дано мне тело, что мне делать с ним?
Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2007, 06:50:20 PM »
I lived through the crucible and watched many friends die.  Then I became poz myself, I think, because I finally gave up fighting. 

I look at pictures.  I cry.  I miss Jimmie sometimes so much... the way he smelled, his silly smile, his fuzzy belly.   His mother and I were the only people to come to his funeral.    I miss Wes and I miss Thomas.  I am wearing a pair of boots he had right now.  I have written poems to each of them. 

I don't know if there is an easy way to survive.  When I finally do die, I don't know what awaits.  So, for now, they are alive in my memory.   But I survive.  When I feel sad that there are those who are gone, I remember that I am glad to have known them. 

My heart goes out to you.  I haven't lived your life, but I think I know what you feel.   

Some days I think this is how really old people feel.  When you have lived a long life, and watched all your contemporaries pass on... what is left.  Your memories.  Your tears.  Your laughter.  Your life.  Be happy that you are still here and you can choose how you relate to life from this moment to the next.
Floating through the void in the caress of two giant pink lobsters named Esmerelda and Keith.

Offline poet

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  • Poet living and working in Central Maine
Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2007, 06:58:00 PM »
I have been positive for 23 years this year and, like others here, have watched countless numbers of friends and lovers/partners die.  How might I justify my being alive?  By finding out why I am alive by recognising who I am and who I am not.  By finding out what my skills are and using them.  By always trying to act in a way which does no harm but may benefit others, be  it donating money to a cause, shoveling a neighbor's walkway, planting a garden others can enjoy, remembering what is important in life and what is not (a personal measurement, of course).  By remembering those who have died every once in awhile because, we are told, they know when we think about them.  Win
Winthrop Smith has published three collections of poetry: Ghetto: From The First Five; The Weigh-In: Collected Poems; Skin Check: New York Poems.  The last was published in December 2006.  He has a work-in-progress underway titled Starting Positions.

Offline Queen Tokelove

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2007, 07:28:09 PM »

Hi sweetie. I really don't know what I could say to you about your guilt other than I feel it is normal to feel that way. I agree with Joe, you have a purpose and you must find it. I will have been poz 10 years this year and I can only hope to be here another 15 yrs. I often wonder why I am still here when others I have loved have been taken away from me. So, don't feel that you are alone in feeling the way you do. Even though you are left wondering why, there are those like myself that are grateful that you are still here. You were one of the first people that made me feel welcome here and I have appreciated the way you have shared a part yourself with me.
Started Atripla/Ziagen on 9/13/07.
10/31/07 CD4-265 VL- undetectable
2/6/08 CD4- 401 VL- undetectable
5/7/08 CD4- 705 VL- undetectable
6/4/08 CD4- 775 VL- undetectable
8/6/08 CD4- 805 VL- undetectable
11/13/08 CD4- 774 VL--undetectable
2/4/09  CD4- 484  VL- 18,000 (2 months off meds)
3/3/09---Starting Back on Meds---
4/27/09 CD4- 664 VL-- undetectable
6/17/09 CD4- 438 VL- 439
8/09 CD4- 404 VL- 1,600
01-22-10-- CD4- 525 VL- 59,000
Cherish the simple things life has to offer

The Royal Blog

Offline wellington

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  • Posts: 509
  • Don't sweat the little things.
Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2007, 07:54:04 PM »
I prefer to think of guilt as that emotion which reminds how much I care about the things I experience. Sure, it's often painful. Sometimes, overwhelmingly so.

I, too, have lost people who were near and dear. Just thinking about them makes my eyes misty and my throat close up. I give myself permission to feel that way and I try to think about the thinks that I miss about them. They're not really gone, after all, as long as we remember.

Isn't it our history that informs who we will become tomorrow? Guilt reminds me that I can do better, reach higher, and make a difference for myself and others.

Offline allopathicholistic

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2007, 08:51:54 PM »
Hi Jeff. Glad you're still here. The loved ones who've passed on would not want you to feel guilty. They'd want you happy. The next part of my response here is ethereal and might raise eyebrows or even get some people in a huff, but here goes (and in a way the intent here is to comfort your mental state with a 'what if' scenario) ... What if your loved ones who've passed on are feeling guilty that you're still stuck on imperfect Earth while they're living it up in perfect Heaven? I realize it's a bizarro thought and almost childlike, but 'what if' ??

Offline koi1

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2007, 09:26:33 PM »
I guess what we need to always remember that tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone. You are here, perhaps you have made a difference in someone's life. I am lucky to be here as well. I could have ended up in much worse shape, but I am still here. I think of my brother inlaw's brother who died a year before the cocktail became available.


diagnosed on 11/20/06 viral load 23,000  cd4 97    8%
01/04/07 six weeks after diagnosis vl 53,000 cd4 cd4 70    6%
Began sustiva truvada 01/04/07
newest labs  drawn on 01/15/07  vl 1,100    cd4 119    7%
Drawn 02/10/07
cd4=160 viral load= 131 percentage= 8%
New labs 3/10/07 (two months on sustiva truvada
cd4 count 292  percentage 14 viral load undetectable

Offline Life

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  • Member 2005
Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2007, 09:41:38 PM »
Alex,  "What if's"... Not for me sweetie...

Jeff, whatever beleif system you have, use it...  I have never lost someone to aids, but I have lost before...  Everyone deals with this regret/guilt that why didn't "they" make the finish line that I thought, should have been theirs?   Those cards I will never see, and I will never know.   Being newly diagnosed, vs longterm, both must have there emotional breaking points.  I have felt only one of these so far.   Projecting myself 23 years into the future would be a big waste of now.  So, with yours and everyone elses help, I am puled back to right now, present day, and am told to stay put.   Maybe between all of us we can quit shifting so much into what was, and what happened, or what is and what will or could happen, we can focus more clearly.. 

Hay, you have made it this far baby.   I am so fucking proud of you.   Your like a brother to me and I think we all care very much for you...   Stick around in the now Jeff..  You look very good there!


Offline DanielMark

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2007, 05:45:55 AM »

I'm in my 19th year now. Whenever I've felt survivor guilt over the death of loved ones, I try to remind myself that guilt is for the guilty, and feeling it about someone's passing is irrational. Instead I let myself hurt and miss them for a time. It's the only way I can keep their memory alive and still function.

guilt > noun  1 the fact of having committed an offense or crime.  2 a feeling of having done something wrong or failed in an obligation.

There is no failure or crime in being alive. Hurting and missing people sometimes is just a part of that.




Offline redhotmuslbear

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2007, 09:28:27 AM »
guilt > noun  1 the fact of having committed an offense or crime.  2 a feeling of having done something wrong or failed in an obligation.

There is no failure or crime in being alive. Hurting and missing people sometimes is just a part of that.

Thanks for pointing out the misuse of the word 'guilt' in this context.  What we experience is both the loneliness of losing so many intimates and a doubt about our 'worthiness' in having survived.  For many of us, the worth issue was opened upon recognizing our queerness, then exacerbated by the probabilistic determinations that left us standing and thriving while our friends withered and perished before us.  If we truly value the love that was shared with us by our departed friends, we look for way in which the added days we have been given can be used to benefit others, whether it's by rolling our sleeves for scientific research or putting our bodies and minds in motion to provide services to others.

"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do." - BF Skinner
12-31-09   222wks VL  2430 CD4 690 (37%)
09-30-09   208wks VL  2050  CD4 925 (42%)
06-25-08   143wks VL  1359  CD4 668 (32%)  CD8 885
02-11-08   123wks off meds:  VL 1364 CD4 892(40%/0.99 ratio)
10-19-07   112wks off meds:   VL 292  CD4 857(37%/0.85 ratio)

One copy of delta-32 for f*****d up CCR5 receptors, and an HLA B44+ allele for "CD8-mediated immunity"... beteer than winning Powerball, almost!

Offline SirPrize

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2007, 12:39:05 PM »
Grow from it, you've done nothing wrong (or as Cher said to Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck while slapping him across the face "Snap out of it!)  And may you be around for the next 23 years as well.  Each additional day that I can fend off the ravages of this disease, and any associated guilt, I count as a blessing.

I, too, have survived for more than 23 years and have watched many others be taken by this illness.  It may take some work on your part to deflect those guilty feelings but you (for only you can) MUST focus your energies on staying healthy and remaining positive.  Godspeed! 
Due to current economic conditions, the light at the end of the tunnel has been temporarily turned off!

Offline Lou-ah-vull

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2007, 06:14:08 PM »
I see the issue a little differently.  I experience survivor's grief....I wish these drugs had been available for my friends who dies in the 80's and 90s and that they were still with me.  I lost my partner/husband in 1993 and never a day goes by (especially as I am taking my meds) that I wish the meds had been available for him.  I don't feel guilty that I have these meds...I feel sad that my friends and my partner did not.  In a good way, my missing them by thinking of them keeps them "alive in my heart and in my memory" so I thank God for grief-- I much prefer memory over forgetting. 
Diagnosed Oct. 2005
10/05:  367 (26.2%), 24556 VL
01/06:  344 (24.6%), 86299 VL
04/06:  374 (22.0%), 87657 VL
05/06:  Began HAART 05/15/06, Combivir/Kaletra
07/06:  361 (27.8%), 1299 VL
10/06:  454 (32.4%), 55 VL
01/07:  499 (38.4%), UD
02/07:  Switched to Atripla 2/8/07
04/07:  566 (37.7%), UD
08/07:  761 (42.3%), UD
06/08:  659 (47.1%), UD
01/09:  613 (43.8%), UD
07/09:  616 (47.4%), UD
01/10:  530 (44.2%), UD
07/10:  636 (48.9%), UD
01/11:  627 (48.2%), UD
07/11:  840 (52.5%), UD
01/12:  920 (51.1%), UD
07/12:  857 (50.4%), 40
10/12:  UD
01/13:  710 (47.3%), UD
07/13:  886 (49.2%), UD
01/14:  985 (46.9%), UD
06/14:  823 (47.2%), UD
01/15: 1366 (45.2%), UD
07/15: 1134 (50.7%), UD
02/16: 1043 (55.1%), UD
08/16:  746  (55.4%), UD
08/16:  Switch from Atripla to Genvoya

Offline Jeffreyj

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2007, 09:12:43 PM »
Thanks everyone for making several great points. You have all made me think, and it is true that those who have passed on would want me to be happy. That belief, along with the fact I really do believe that God has a plan for me brings me much comfort.

All of your responses are greatly appreciated.

I am so grateful for AMC.
Positive since 1985


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