Healing Abortion Grief
The feeling of pain, grief and loss after an abortion is not something that most women are prepared for. Because many women don’t have sufficient information and counseling before an abortion, they don’t know how common this response is. They are left surprised by their reaction and wondering, “Why am I feeling this way?”
Any time we experience an unexpected stressful event or sudden loss, it can be traumatic. It can seem like the solid ground you stood on is gone and the world isn’t the way you expected it to be, which can complicate the grieving process.
Know that you are not alone. Research shows that the majority of women who have an abortion experience emotional pain in relation to it. There are places, Clearway included, who offer healing groups to help with that pain and give an opportunity to speak with other women who share similar experiences.
Know that you are unique. Try not to compare your grief to someone else’s or judge yourself for your feelings. Your feelings are valid, and trying to convince yourself “I shouldn’t feel this way” won’t change those feelings.
The stages of grief aren’t linear and not everyone goes through each stage. However, it’s not uncommon when grieving to experience shock, denial (e.g. ignoring/suppressing feelings), anger, bargaining (for PA women this can look like trying to have perfect behavior such as being the perfect mother) and depression. Unprocessed grief can lead to long-term depression and suicidality. In our healing group, women are helped to move through the remaining stages of grief: mourning the loss, and accepting the hope.
Grief symptoms to look out for:
These feelings can morph or be suppressed, but they don’t go away. Women who have received help decades after their abortions have overwhelmingly said that they wish they had gone through a healing group sooner. We offer 11 week healing groups, as well as 4 day healing retreats. We can also refer you to a therapist with an understanding of your type of grief.