Feelings of pain, grief, and loss after an abortion, though common, are not something that most people expect to experience. Because people often lack sufficient information and counseling before an abortion, many don’t realize how common this response is. They are then left surprised by their reaction and wondering, “Why am I feeling this way?”
Any experience of an unexpected/stressful event or a sudden loss can be traumatic. It shakes up a person’s sense of stability. 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 women who have an abortion may experience emotional pain in relation to it (1). If you are struggling with a past abortion experience, you aren’t the only one. Clearway offers healing groups to help process abortion-related grief and pain with support and guidance. We offer this program in groups to provide an opportunity for you to speak with other women who share similar experiences.
Even though one in four women have abortion in their history (2), each person’s journey is unique. You may feel like your feelings are different from those around you. If that’s the case, that’s okay. 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 that you shouldn’t feel this way won’t change those feelings. Instead, allow yourself space to process and work through them.
The stages of grief, identified by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D., are not linear, and not everyone goes through every stage. However, it’s not uncommon when grieving to experience shock, denial (can be ignoring/suppressing feelings), anger, and/or bargaining (3). Unprocessed grief can lead to long-term depression. In our healing groups, women are guided through the process of mourning the loss and accepting the hope.
These feelings can change, but they may not go away. Women who have received grief support decades after their abortion(s) have overwhelmingly said that they wish they had gone through a healing group sooner. At Clearway, we offer 11-week healing groups and 4-day healing retreats. We can also refer you to a therapist with an understanding of your type of grief.