Survivor’s Guilt


There is survivor’s guilt in widowhood; at least for me.

Survivor’s guilt is, “a deep feeling of guilt often experienced by those who have survived some catastrophe that took the lives of many others; (it) derives in part from a feeling that they did not do enough to save the others who perished and in part from feelings of being unworthy relative to those who died.”

In my case it’s only one other: Susan.

Thankfully, I have no qualms about the quality of our relationship. We were best friends for 37 years. We loved each other heart and soul—imperfectly but intimately. Yet I now find myself asking:

Did I cause too much stress in her life: unintentionally through my cancer and directly through my spiritual questions?

Could I have done more to help in her ongoing struggle against the health conditions that contributed to her untimely death?

How did I miss the warning signs she was nearing the ledge?

Then there’s the irony of Susan being taken before me:

I was increasingly cut off from ministry; disabled by my doubts. She was daily involved in life-saving work at the Pregnancy Center. Her team helped thousands of clients and rescued scores of babies every year.

I was the one doing hand-to-hand combat with a terminal disease. She was only dealing with the pesky problems of weight gain and pre-diabetes.

For three years she lived in dreadful anticipation of losing me, yet I was the one left behind to grieve.

My main consolation is that while I’m still stumbling toward heaven, Susie is already there.

Mike and Susan Hamel

“A picture is worth a thousand tears.”
–Mike Hamel

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6 thoughts on “Survivor’s Guilt

  1. Dad and I had to shed some tears, Mike. None of us saw this coming. Thank you for loving our girl so beautifully. Love, Mom and Dad

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