Connecting With Others May Help With Survivors’ Guilt

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Dana Frost, a cancer survivor and grief advocate, said writing about survivors’ guilt and connecting with others feeling the same way was therapeutic.

Survivors’ guilt is a common feeling when someone loses a loved one to cancer, but sharing stories and letting others know that they are not alone in that feeling could be therapeutic, according to Dana Frost.

Frost is a Hodgkin lymphoma survivor and founded the Forced Joy Project after her husband, Bradford Frost, was diagnosed with stage 4 renal cell carcinoma. After her spouse’s death, Frost said that she struggled with survivor’s guilt, but found solace in writing about it and connecting with others.

MORE: Grief Advocate Explains the Difference Between Forced Joy and Toxic Positivity

“I think that the more that we can talk about and normalize these difficult things, we’re just paving the path and the way for other people [who] are coming later, for them to give themselves permission to feel all the feelings that are coming up,” Frost said in an interview with CURE®.

Transcript:

I don't know why we feel guilty. I wish we didn't. If I could remove any feeling, it would be the guilt. But I think survivor's guilt is a big one [when] continuing to live after you've lost a loved one. There's so much guilt associated with that. How can I possibly find anything joyful when this person has died or, I've survived and they didn't?

So, I think there's a lot of guilt of just living after diagnosis after a death.

Brad died over seven years ago, and it's still something that I struggle with. I'm able to quiet it and I handle it very differently [than I used to]. But it was really prevalent for the first couple of years. I wrote about it, I think I was very open about those feelings, which, again, we don't talk about all of the hard things that we're experiencing in a diagnosis after the death of a loved one. So that felt like therapy of being like, “This is what's going through my head, my heart, my body right now,” and to find other people that felt the same way to be like, “Oh, this is not uncommon. This is not abnormal to feel these feelings.” I think the more that we can talk about and normalize these difficult things, we’re just paving the path and the way for other people [who] are coming later for them to give themselves permission to feel all the feelings that are coming up.

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