Screams of anguish come from Ramah
Rachel weeping for her children, uncomforted
For they are dead.
Grieving is a normal healthy response to a major loss through death. It is a painful process but one that helps relieve our sorrow through grief. After an abortion, women may attempt to bury their grief, turn emotions off, and run from God. Eventually, they face the fact that abortion ended their unborn baby’s life.
The grieving that follows an abortion is similar to the grief of a woman who has had a miscarriage. Both experience stages of denial, anger, depression, and acceptance. Both experience guilt but the source of their guilt is not the same. Women who have had a miscarriage feel guilty because they don’t know what role they played in their child’s death. Women who choose abortion feel guilty because they do know the part they played in their child’s death.
Relief is the first stage of grieving after an abortion. In this stage a woman may think, Thank God, I am not pregnant anymore! All the uncertainty of the previous weeks is now over and I feel relieved. After a short time, the initial feelings of relief wear off, and when her mind goes back to the actual experience, denial begins. It is difficult to cope with the memories of the abortion experience. The woman tries to deny that abortion killed her child. She may think, No, I wouldn’t murder a baby. I just terminated a pregnancy, or it wasn’t a baby at that stage, it was a blob of tissue.
Moving out of denial usually happens over a period of years and is a different process for each individual. For some women, denial ends when they see pictures of fetal development and realize how human their unborn baby was at the time of the abortion. Other women confront their loss when they carry a wanted pregnancy. What was viewed as a blob of tissue is now viewed as a baby. Many women come to see the truth of their actions when they stop running from God and begin to seek him with all their heart.
Once out of denial, many women become angry. They may think, the clinic should have told me the truth about fetal development; they should have told me about adoption, my parents should not have been so concerned about what others thought, or God should have stopped me. In this stage, women dwell on the ways they have been hurt by others and blame them for the decision to abort. This anger often goes unexpressed and may lead to bitterness, interfering with other areas of a woman’s life.
In getting rid of this anger, women must learn to forgive. Forgiving is one of the most difficult steps toward healing, and often women set up conditions that must be met by others before they will forgive. They may think, I will forgive the father if he shows a similar feeling of regret, or I’ll forgive my parents when they show they care more about me than what others think. These women finally realize they cannot change their past nor can they change others. They can, however, change their response to their hurt and anger. Women can then choose to forgive unconditionally and make room in their lives for love.
Another stage of grieving may be depression. The role women played in their baby’s death can fill them with guilt, shame, self-condemnation, and self-pity. It is in this stage that harmful behavior such as excessive drug and alcohol use or suicidal tendencies are seen. Some women experience an unconscious need to punish themselves, which may show up in psychosomatic illnesses or accident proneness. Through these behaviors women attempt to ease the pain of guilt but fail to do so. They may think, I should have listened to my conscience or I should have stood up to the others around me, or I should have at least given my baby life. In moving out of this stage of depression women are no longer angry with themselves but have accepted their mistake and now surround themselves with God’s forgiveness.
The final stage of grieving is acceptance. At this point, women have forgiven those who hurt them and have accepted God’s forgiveness. Women have acknowledged all the emotions that go with grieving and have faced them head-on. They begin to express gratitude for the growth experienced and often desire to share with others what they have learned. In acceptance, women eagerly watch God as he turns their painful experience into a blessing. They have a deeper understanding of God’s plan for their lives and see how this painful process of grieving fits into his plan.
God loves you and wants to walk you through these stages of healing. Most times we get stuck in our grieving process because we don’t believe we have the right to grieve, after all, we took the life of our child. The Haven is here to help you walk through this process! Yes, you can come to the other side healed!! Please look at this site and see all the testimonies of women and (men) who have healed.
Take a step of faith and reach out to talk to someone who has been exactly where you are! We are here for you will walk through this with you!
"Used by permission of Linda Cochrane, taken from "Forgiven and Set Free"