How do I survive survivor’s guilt?
Q. My department at work was reduced by 10 percent. I feel guilty that so many of my coworkers have lost their jobs and I am still employed. I’m also feeling some resentment that I have to pick up all the extra work with no extra money. How can I handle this well?
A. Your question comes immediately after I have read several articles about achieving work-life balance. I agree with the goal and the benefits generated with a balanced workload and life – as I am sure you would prefer. At the same time, I wonder how many people in today’s challenging economic times fall into the category of wanting any work, no matter how unbalanced the situation. I also thought of my grandparents, who worked countless hours on the farm during the Depression and were thankful for having chickens and cows, which produced eggs and milk, and fertilizer for the fields of vegetables they grew. I have pictures of them sitting on their front porch with many others sharing the bounty of their long hours of endless work and the beauty of the farm with their less fortunate friends from the city. My grandparents carried a tremendous workload and found more joy in the midst of it all as they shared his gifts.
In your case, you are handling roughly 10 percent more work – I realize it is not likely a welcome answer, yet the way to “handle this well” is to be thankful for that with which you have been graced and to give generously to others who may not have as much. Aiding others who have less is the surest way to find the joy in the bounty of your situation.
For example, have you asked others who are also burdened at work if there is something you can do to help? Have you kept an eye out for employment opportunities for which your former co-workers may be suited? Have you offered to take them to lunch to break up their routines? Have you asked them how you may help? Have you spent time praying for them?
If you do not have as much free time at work as you formerly enjoyed, you may want to talk to and help someone who is about to lose his home to put it all in perspective.
In our trying economic times, it is too easy to overlook Jesus’ command to love your neighbor, as yourself. In my personal life, I find that Jesus is always challenging me to look at things differently and to follow his command to love others, as he did, and as I should, and to be grateful to him for all he provides.