Monday, July 30, 2012

Survivor's Guilt...

Gayla and the Gang at Dave Matthews Summer 2010
I spent an amazingly fun and love-filled day with my "Gang" Saturday. We had a cake tasting for the up-coming wedding, we drove all over creation looking for linen suits for the grooms, and we laughed to the point of tears on several occasions (Think Sling Blade sings Call Me Maybe and One Direction). It was the perfect day. So I chastise myself for spending the entire trip home feeling like my friends would prefer that Gayla were there instead of me.

It makes no sense if you break it down. My sister Gayla and I shared our beloved friends so much so that our family just thinks of them all as our brothers and sisters of the heart. There has been much said about how the family we choose is just as important as the family to which we are born. So why do I question my placement in this family? Why do I berate myself with the taunts of, "They wish it had been you"? Why does part of me believe the taunt while the other part of me yells, "THEY WISH IT HAD JUST NOT HAPPENED, YOU GOOB!"

I spent much of Sunday reading about grief and survivor guilt to try to make my whole self understand. Not that all apply to this particular situation and feeling I am having, but here are some of the most profound thoughts to stick with me:

  • This Psychology Today article states, "Even though bereaved people share much common ground, every bereaved person is different, experiencing each death uniquely, grieving uniquely, struggling uniquely, coping uniquely, adjusting uniquely, and healing uniquely."
  • Dr. Phyllis Silverman wrote, "We no longer think of grief as following a formula such as suggested by Kubler—Ross (On Death and Dying). I agree that grief doesn’t express itself in a step by step manner but it does unfold. It may look different for each of us depending on who died, our own experience with grief, and where we are in our own life cycle. ... we need to recognize that grieving is a complicated part of living that changes us and from which we do not 'recover' as from an illness."
  • Kathleen Nader writes about survivor guilt following a tragedy and states when "good people die, survivors may reexamine their own goodness."
I think that last one hits the nail on the head. Gayla was everything good in a friendship. She was giving of her time, her patience, her understanding, and her heart. Sister was that friend who would be standing right by your side in all situations even if you weren't aware of it. Gayla put her friends first. She was fun at all times, always being ready for adventure. Gayla wanted what was best for you, and she went out of her way to make it possible if it were within her control. She was better at being a friend than I am so I guess my feelings of inadequacy are the culprit. Enemy number two is that I have no idea how to change this or how to emulate my beloved sister's ability in this arena.

Share with me how you are a friend. Teach me your secrets for being "good".

P.S. Sosie, no worrying about me or lecturing me. I know this is only in my perception and not reality. I love you.

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