Written by Clara Hinton
Abortion is a very sensitive issue to discuss. In fact, abortion is often an emotion-filled word that can bring about many different reactions, including some very intensely emotional reactions. The intent of this particular article is not to voice the opinion or beliefs of the author concerning abortion. The intention of this article is to validate the fact that there is complicated grief involved with abortion.
Abortion is a decision that is often made under very difficult and very stressful circumstances. Many times a young teenager will find herself pregnant, scared and very alone, and not knowing what to do when faced with the very adult responsibility of becoming a parent. Far too many times, friends, the father of the baby, and even parents of the pregnant teenager will suggest an abortion as the number one option for a best choice.
Because abortion has become quite common and is highly accepted, the choice to end a pregnancy is often made in haste without giving much thought about the lasting emotional consequences of such a decision. Even though the pregnant young lady is given a pamphlet to read, and is assigned a counselor to talk with who will explain the procedure for aborting, there is no real way to prepare the mother for the grief that may not appear until years following the abortion.
The grief experienced following an abortion is often a very complicated grief. Most often, this particular grief is hidden. Because abortion is such an extremely controversial issue, many women choose not to talk about this issue for fear of being judged, ostracized, and condemned. The fact remains, whether we agree with the decision or not, that there is deep grief in the aftermath of an abortion.
Too few clergy, psychologists, and social workers have been trained in helping women walk through the steps of this particular grief. Very few people recognize abortion as a form of child loss. Even the mother who made the decision to abort might not understand at all that she will go through deep emotional and physical feelings of loss.
The grief cycle for abortion is different than for other types of child loss. At first, the mother might experience a sense of relief. The mother may remain in a state of denial for a prolonged period of time. This unresolved grief might not surface for as long as six to ten years. *May I interject that men go through a period of complicated grief, but that will be addressed at another time.
There are many steps involved in healing from the complicated grief of an abortion. The very first step, however, is acknowledging that this deep sense of loss is indeed real, and it is grief. Pain must be faced before it can be healed. Often, this first step is the most difficult one of all.
Once there is an acceptance of the fact that grief does occur from an abortion, the hard work of grieving can begin. Remind yourself often that grief is real, and grief is the hardest work you will ever do. Once you recognize the reality of grief, you have made that most important step in beginning your own personal journey of grief.