Source: Forgiven and Set Free by Linda Cochrane
Is grieving a normal and healthy response after an abortion? Absolutely. The child that was lost became a major loss through death. Grief is painful, but it is necessary in relieving our sorrow. After an abortion, women may attempt to bury their grief, turn off their emotions, and run from God. Eventually, they face the fact that abortion ended their unborn child's life.
The grieving that follows an abortion is similar to the grief of a woman who has 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 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 what role they played in their child's death.
For men, they are usually the silent, wounded warrior...suffering because they are not given a choice. Because they had no choice, they question their right to have feelings following an abortion. Make no mistake, abortion leaves both men and women wounded. They both struggle with fear, anxiety, anger, guilt, grief, and depression. For men, there is in most cases, an unexplainable need to defend their masculinity; that need causes much confusion and strife in most of their relationships and they don't even realize the effects of abortion was the root cause of their problems.
1st Stage of Grief
What usually goes through a woman's mind after having an abortion? "Thank God, I am not pregnant anymore." Men usually think, "Thank God, the pregnancy is over." Everything that has happened since she found out that she was pregnant and all the decisions since then, have now come to a close...it's finally over. Now, you are left feeling relieved. But, it doesn't take long before the woman starts to rehearse over and over in her mind, what had happened to her and the child. What do I do now? You try to make sense of it all, but you start to fall into the next stage, denial.
2nd Stage of Grief
Denial is usually long-term and can lasts for many years. Why? It is too difficult to cope with the memories of your abortion. You start to deny that abortion killed your child. You may think, "No, I would never murder a baby. I just terminated a pregnancy". You may begin to think back when you were told that it wasn't really a baby you were getting rid of...it was just a "blob of tissue". You find yourself justifying what you did.
For some women and men, denial ends when they are confronted with the truth of seeing pictures of fetal development. You tend to pay close attention to the stage of development that your own child was terminated. Other women come face to face with their loss when they have a wanted pregnancy. You may wander will this baby make it? I chose to abort a child, do I deserve a second chance? The answer is yes. God is forgiving and He is in the business of second chances. There will be consequences for what you did, but as long as remorse is in your heart, forgiveness from God will be rewarded. Many women and men desperately come to grips with the truth and finally stop running from God. They begin to seek Him from the depths of their hearts, searching for comfort that only He can give.
3rd Stage of Grief
In this stage, you start to realize the truth about abortion and you become angry. You start to question the actions of others and blame them for your loss. Your questioning begins... "The clinic should have told me the truth about fetal development; they should have told me about adoption, My parents should have been more concerned about me than what others thought, She shouldn't have chosen abortion, Men don't have any choice in abortion or Why didn't God stop me?" If your anger continues and you don't express yourself, it can turn into bitterness and interfere in other areas of your life. Anger is not a sin. It is a God given emotion to help you deal with problems. But, when you let your anger control you, then it becomes a sin. To get rid of this anger, the next step you must learn to do is...forgive.
4th Stage of Grief
In this stage men and women must learn to forgive the people and circumstances that led to their abortion. It becomes the hardest stage to overcome. But, in order for you to heal, it has to be done.
You start to come to grips with the truth and know that you cannot change the past or change others. What you can change is your own response to your hurt and anger. You can now begin to choose forgiveness. It is the unconditional type of forgiveness that leaves you free, with no strings attached. Then, you can learn to make room in your life for love. Love can conquer all fears and soften the pain. God's love is everlasting. Why? Because, God is Love. He can teach you how to love unconditionally and His love is forgiving and sets you free.
5th Stage of Grief
The roles men and 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 noticeable. Men tend to also have to deal with becoming more aggressive and abusive. In this stage, you may feel the need to punish yourself, which may show up in psychosomatic illnesses or you may become accident prone. Through these behaviors, you may attempt to ease the pain of guilt, but fail to do so. You began to blame yourself for not preventing the abortion; not learning the truth in time, not choosing life for the baby, and for not standing up for what was right. Men who chose abortion experience extreme guilt because he failed in his responsibility to his child and to his child's mother. In moving forward out of depression, you are no longer angry with yourself but have now accepted responsibility for what you have done. You now start to surround yourself with God's loving forgiveness.
Last Stage of Grief
By now, you have forgiven those who hurt you and have accepted God's forgiveness. You have acknowledged all the emotions that go with grieving and you have faced them head-on.
You begin to show gratitude for all that you have learned and want to share that experience with others. In acceptance, you are fully aware of what God is doing with your pain and watch joyfully as He turns it into a blessing. You have a deeper understanding of God's plan for your life. You wait patiently as He shows you how this painful experience with grief fits into His perfect plan. Is this a process that you would want to repeat? Absolutely not. But, if you learn anything, learn that it was God's love, grace, mercy and forgiveness that brought you through it all. You learn the true meaning of being forgiven and set free, even when you didn't deserve it.