How to Deal with Survivor’s Guilt when Living in Another Country

Thousands of immigrants in this country have to deal with the guilt of leaving people behind, sometimes in disastrous conditions. They are fathers, mothers, and children looking for hope and opportunity. In many cases, they might have a plan to bring them over, but the period in between can be difficult to deal with, and there’s nothing that’s guaranteed either. What can you do if you’re struggling with survival guilt as an immigrant?


Causes of Guilt

The Guilt experienced by survivors usually occurs when someone has been through an unusual event. Also, immigrants often go through a similar kind of guilt. However, you should take note of the fact that not everyone who has been through such an event will develop such guilt. Numerous factors combine and are responsible for the development of survivor’s guilt after they have survived a traumatic event.

  • When the person is suffering some other mental conditions that include, anxiety or depression.
  • When the person already has gone through a similar kind of trauma, such as childhood abuse.
  • When friends and family are not supportive enough.
  • The person shares a family history of several similar psychiatric problems.
  • Addiction to drugs or alcohol.

A lot of researchers have concluded that survivors often imagine their role in a particular event, and this is how they develop feelings of guilt.

Tips to Cope up with Such a Situation

Today, we are sharing a few tips and tricks that are proven to help people cope up with survivor’s guilt that they are experiencing. They can also deal with other trauma-related symptoms effectively.

However, we strongly recommend that if a person feels that they are not able to cope with the symptoms of guilt or if the episodes are severe than expected, then they should seek professional help. As an immigrant, there are several different kinds of guilt that people often develop. Let us know a few tips that will help people cope up with the survivor’s guilt that they are suffering with.

Keep in Touch

The most important thing you can do is make sure that you stay in touch with the people back home as often as you can. Thankfully, we have many tools to do that easily these days. WhatsApp is perfect and allows anyone with a data plan to communicate fast and cost-free. We would also suggest that you get a phone for anyone who doesn’t have a mobile back home so you can stay in touch and make sure that it has a decent data plan.

Remember Who You’re Doing This For

Never take your eyes off the prize. If your goal is to bring your children back and they are struggling back home, make sure that you take care of them, but also remember that you’re doing this for them. Remind them daily that you’re thinking about them and will not leave them behind. You also have to be ready to look after their financial needs, so you will need to look at ways to send money online if they need help. Make sure that you use a reliable service, such as one at, with many locations to make things as easy as possible for them.

Look at Who’s Truly Responsible

You also have to put things into perspective and look at the true reason why you’re here. You aren’t to blame for bad governance or lack of security. You can mourn for those who have to suffer but don’t blame yourself for trying to find a way out. The most important thing is not taking personal responsibility for bad circumstances that are out of your control.

Express Your Emotions

In many cases, immigrants learn how to show a strong face when dealing with adversity. But if you’re alone in a foreign country and have no one to fall back on, you need to find an outlet. Some decide to go for therapy, but that’s not something everyone has the means for or is comfortable with.

If you want to get through these rough times, you need to learn how to express and face your emotions. It’s okay to cry from time to time, or maybe you feel like screaming. Either way, you need to find a way to let it out. Then, we would suggest you start working on building a support system. Look for organizations dealing with new immigrants and refugees. Also, try to reach out to others in your community if it has a strong presence where you are. You’ll have the chance to build and get support from other people who are or have been through the same ordeal as yours.

If you had to leave friends or family behind for a chance at life, don’t feel guilty. Always remember the true causes for it and let them know that they are close to your heart.

Accept the Emotions and Allow Them as it Comes

Though survivor’s guilt is not always practical, it is often treated as a reaction to an incident that a person has gone through. The person should permit the emotions that are surfacing and accept them as they come. Such people need some time to bear with what is happening in their life. Patience is required to process the fear, guilt, grief, etc.

If such feelings become overwhelming with time then they should learn some coping techniques, and if it becomes unmanageable, then the survivor must seek professional help.

Using Mindful Techniques

It is critical that people who have experienced trauma should be aware of some mindful techniques. People who have immigrated to a different country, away from their loved ones often suffer from intense guilt particularly when they have flashbacks or go through moments of unbearable and intense feelings. Some grounding techniques will also work for them. They can try scrunching the nearby available fabrics in their hand while concentrating on their breath, and take note of sounds from both inside and outside of the room.


Self-care will help people deal with survivor’s guilt to a great extent. The guilt that they are going through is often frightening and overwhelming. A few activities will also help them feel good that includes creating art, listening to soothing music, self-pampering, etc. People also feel good when they help others and bring a smile to their face. However, with the right tricks and tips, you can easily overcome this.