At current abortion rates, it is estimated that one in three women in the United States will have had an abortion by age forty-five. But it isn't just women who are affected: The list includes spouses, partners, children, other family members, and friends. In fact, it is becoming rare not to know someone who has had an abortion.
Regardless of whether or not a person's family members of friends were directly involved in the abortion decision, they are still touched by it.
Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings are left grappling with the loss of a family member – a loss that isn't openly acknowledged. They may also be disturbed by the emotional fallout they observe in the woman or in the father of the baby.
They often feel helpless and confused. How do you grieve a loss that isn't acknowledged by our culture? How do you reach out to someone you love without causing more pain?
Often, even without our knowing it, people may be interpreting our words and actions through a screen of painful personal experiences. So when the topic of abortion comes up, bear in mind that the person you are speaking to may have been impacted by abortion. If this is true, their first need is for healing. This is why it helps to understand something about reproductive grief.
It's normal to grieve after any pregnancy loss, whether it is caused by miscarriage, stillbirth, adoption, infertility, or abortion. Most of us know someone who has suffered the loss of a child through miscarriage. The loss suffered in an abortion is similar, except for two important distinguishing factors: First, the loss is chosen, often after succumbing to pressure from others; second, the abortion is typically kept a secret.
Talking is an important part of grieving a loss like this. But people who are carrying the burden of a past abortion—either their own or someone else's—often feel that they're the only ones having a difficult reaction. Their sense of isolation keeps them from reaching out to others.
Sometimes they encounter pro-life people who condemn them, and pro-choice people who deny their feelings. Finding no safe place to deal with their troubling emotions, they may choose to repress or numb them in order to cope. And even when they want to talk about their experiences, well-meaning family and friends often urge them to simply move on with their lives and "forget about it." Thus, abortion can cause emotional scars with lifelong effects.
How You Can Help
Be alert to this need for healing. And if you discover that you are indeed speaking with someone who has been touched by abortion, offer to connect them with healing resources and to support them through the process.
Because abortion is rarely talked about, it’s normal for people to be confused about what to do or say. Here are some things to keep in mind if a friend or family member approaches you about their abortion experience:
By communicating sensitively and compassionately, we can be a source of healing and understanding. We can bring the love of Jesus to those we love.
© 2008 Abortion Changes You
More articles in this series
Over the years I’ve heard many heartrending stories about abortion. Although each story is unique, a common thread moves through them all – abortion changes you.
Abortion Changes You
Sharing the real experiences of real people can be a starting place for those seeking healing and for those wishing to assist others through the grieving process.
My Child Would Have Been 22 This Year
I was completely unprepared for the emotional fallout after the abortion. I thought the abortion would erase the pregnancy. I thought I could move on with my life. I was wrong.
Michaelene Fredenburg is the creator of the Abortion Changes You® outreach. To read Michaelene's story about her abortion and how she found healing, click here. Also, visit www.abortionchangesyou.com to find a safe place for individuals touched by abortion to explore others' stories, tell their own story, seek healing, and access resources.
A Time to Speak
A Healing Journal for Post-Abortive Women
Twelve true stories expose 12 myths of abortion in this compassionate guide into healing. Each chapter begins with one woman's story, then moves through questions for reflection, a thought for "going deeper," a love letter from God, and open space called "Your Time to Speak."
Hear My Voice: Holly's Story A Solitary Sorrow Men and Abortion
A Journey to Freedom and Hope
Feel with Holly the depression, remorse and alienation from her friends she endures after she aborts her baby. Savor, too, the acceptance, forgiveness and hope she finds at a crisis pregnancy center.
Finding Healing & Wholeness After Abortion
More than 1 million women in America have abortions each year. Unfortunately, rarely do these women have the chance to face and work through the deep emotional wounds that remain. In A Solitary Sorrow, the authors address women's intensely personal struggles and help them find reconciliation, hope and healing after an abortion. The paperback is also complete with personal stories and a list of other helpful resources.
A Path to Healing
Dr. C.T. Coyle
Abortion's aftermath upon American men has been largely ignored, depriving them of much-needed help to forgive everyone involved in their abortion experience, including themselves. This guidance will help men express their grief, exchange it for hope and healing, and be in a position to help others.
Hear My Voice: Holly's Story
A Solitary Sorrow
Men and Abortion