Q. Why was I spared when others were injured or killed in a bus accident?

A. It is quite common for survivors to go through a period of questioning. Sometimes they feel unworthy to be alive when others died. This is sometimes referred to a survivor's guilt. It's almost the reverse of why me? It's more like why not me?

The lady across the street from me was involved in a head-on collision. The incident was caused by an alcohol-impaired driver and the lady's 8-year old son was killed in the accident. She herself walked away from the crash. It has been a huge struggle for her to come to terms with being alive while her son is dead. She kept repeating, "Children aren't suppose to die before their parents." That may be ideal and it is generally true. In her case, it wasn't.

In a similar vein, I remember talking with friends some time ago when their 15-year-old son had just died. The experience was wrenching for everyone. When someone asked the couple, "Aren't you angry that this happened to you?" I'll always remember the father's response. He said:

The way I look at it is that planet earth is something of a war zone. In a war some people walk away from the battle unscathed, some get wounded and recover, and some die. My son died. And then this couple put their considerable energy into helping other families cope with similar situations of devastation.

It may be years before survivors come to any sense of why they were spared, if ever. For some it's one of those unsolvable mysteries. That's why counselors say that it's often more difficult for those who survive. I know that I'm always very grateful when I am spared misfortune and loss. When I see others grappling with this, it tends to reawaken in my mind and heart not only gratitude that I was spared, but a renewed determination to live every moment to its fullest and to leave this planet a better place than I found it.