Survivor’s Guilt by Joseph Reilly

When you’ve lost people,

People that were better that you,

People that treated other people better,

You walk around with a constant sense of survivor’s guilt.

You feel as though you should have been the one.

But instead, they were stripped from he earth.

And that survivor’s guilt weighs heavy.

You feel as though you need to justify your existence.

Maybe if I become successful, and make the most of this, it’ll make up for the fact that they died and you didn’t.

Maybe if you change the world a little and leave an impact, you won’t feel bad for being alive.

So you work, work, work.

You bust your butt and wring yourself of all sweat.

And the truth is, it never goes away.

And at some point your realize that despite the success, you still can’t live up to what once was.

You’ll never be able to fill the shoes.

And that’s what survivor’s guilt is.


Joseph Reilly is the Editor in Chief of Short Story Avenue and the author of Vanishing Love, a romance novel. You can find all of his work and more at

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