Survivors’ Guilt Among Frontliners


My favorite aunt in the world is a doctor at a large hospital here in the United States. I feel nothing but pride for her, especially now that so many people count on professionals like her as they deal with the lethal coronavirus. I called my aunt one day, thinking of celebrating her work. After all the pleasantries exchanged, I expressed how happy I was that the virus did not affect her at all. She said something that I did not expect to hear at all, though. “I know I should be happy, too, but I feel very guilty about it. Some of my colleagues have not been so lucky.”

A realization hit me at that time: my aunt was dealing with survivors’ guilt. She could not feel joy for being healthy and accomplished because her friends did not survive COVID-19 unscathed. Some of them are still at the hospital now, trying to fight the illness. Others have already passed on because the virus has overpowered their bodies.

I could not precisely tell my aunt, “No, you should not think about that at all. Just focus on being glad that you are alive and helping patients get better.” I knew that that would be too insensitive of me, given that she had undoubtedly seen her colleagues’ battle with COVID-19. Still, I could not help but remind my precious aunt about a few things that might ease her guilt as a frontliner who dodged coronavirus.


Surviving Is Nobody’s Fault

The #1 fact that survivors like my aunt may have forgotten is that no one can tell who can or cannot win against coronavirus. I am pretty sure that some doctors may still say, “I should have treated my patients better,” but you can only do so much. The pharmaceutical experts are merely testing potential cures for the virus at the time of writing this blog, and it’s thoughtless to feel guilty about living.

Fate Can Be Brutal Like That Sometimes

A person’s ability to survive during a pandemic depends on how robust their immune system can be. If you have a pre-existing condition, it is naturally weak, and you may not be able to strengthen it after a few days of taking vitamins. In case you do not always catch other viruses, you are highly likely to avoid or fight coronavirus.

Many people frown upon the idea that it is survival of the fittest, but what can be more accurate than that? Though it feels sad to think of friends dying because of COVID-19, that’s practically how fate works. Sometimes, it is kind to you; other times, it makes you say goodbye to folks you love.


Honor The Dead By Remembering Them Throughout This Lifetime

During my last conversation with my aunt, she was still feeling down due to her colleagues’ death. I listened in silence the first time I heard about it because I knew that she needed to grieve. When she talked about it again, though, and mentioned what better things they could have done in life, I had to stop her. I said, “Instead of regretting the loss, why don’t we honor their accomplishments before dying?”

It’s the truth—those medical professionals died while doing their job. They were no different from soldiers who passed away on duty. That turns them into heroes who need to be celebrated in my book.

Final Thoughts

The ideas mentioned above apply for all frontliners who may be experiencing survivors’ guilt right now. We know that life has not been very kind to the entire planet; the coronavirus may have even taken the lives of your friends. Despite that, keep in mind that you cannot feel remorseful forever because of something that’s out of your hands.