Survivor Guilt

May

September, 2020
The tornado missed my house by several miles. Storm chasers described its wicked course while reporters chronicled the destruction and death in real-time images that mesmerized viewers huddled around their TVs, unable to look away. A familiar spring ritual in Oklahoma.
2 min

The tornado missed my house by several miles. Storm chasers described its wicked course while reporters chronicled the destruction and death in real-time images that mesmerized viewers huddled around their TVs, unable to look away. A familiar spring ritual in Oklahoma.

Politicians made speeches and promises while first responders scrambled to organize a rescue of those trapped in the debris. Victims who survived began the long sad task of putting their shattered homes and lives back to a semblance of normal again knowing deep inside that "normal" was also part of the wreckage.

They don't give tornados a name like they do for hurricanes, only numbers (EF1-EF5) but if they did they should call this one, "Opportunity." I say this because as much harm as this one caused, it also produced even more opportunity for good.

The National Weather Service informs us that this twister was on the ground for 40 destructive minutes but the rescue, acts of kindness, words of love, charitable assistance, financial contributions and prayers will go on for months, even years and involve 10's of thousands of people.

Thankfully God provides a way to bless the victims and help the onlookers avoid survivor guilt. With every tragedy, He opens the door of opportunity to rise above the disaster and find our better selves.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have volunteers share their personal stories and experiences with survivor guilt.
    • What do the stories have in common?
    • Try to formulate a definition of survivor guilt.
  2. What part of the grieving process does survivor guilt fit into? Why?
    • Shock
    • Denial
    • Anger
    • Bargaining
    • Acceptance
  3. How does a person come to some kind of "closure" when there is no answer to the question, "why?" when experiencing great loss?
  4. In your opinion, how does one overcome survivor guilt after being spared when others have not.
  5. What promises from God come to mind that help believers deal with tragedy that seem to have no rhyme or reason?