When somebody dies a time of mourning commences. Some people express their emotions, others may 'keep a stiff upper lip'. Some of the outward signs of mourning are more easily recognisable than others. Depending on how the death occurred often governs the reaction, whether it be tears, crying, sobbing, hysteria, screaming, pounding (hitting) of the body or objects, or even in extreme cases personal physical abuse. Whatever the response, the bereaved needs to express something. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on.
It is recognised that even those who prefer to keep their emotions 'in check' will at some time find that they need to acknowledge that they are there. The pain of a death cannot be buried along with the person, but for those who do not or can not express emotion at the time of a death actually find that something inside them 'dies'. Recent accounts by people who were prisoners or soldiers during World War II and until recently had never spoken about their experiences, show that the bottled up emotions are still there and the tears flow. It may have been over 50 years since the events but the pain is still raw and still real.
When a woman (or girl) realises that she is pregnant and is not going to be able to keep her baby then she has to re-adjust her thought patterns even before the event. From the moment of finding out she is pregnant to the moment of the actual abortion she has to ensure her emotions are 'frozen' to enable her to continue with her daily life. It is bad enough when a sick relative is in hospital or a hospice and everyone knows they have little time left to live, but for a mother who knows her innocent vulnerable unborn baby, who is still growing in her womb, is soon to die because of her decision doesn't bear thinking about. The callousness of the action to take place requires a vast amount of effort on the mother's part just to keep the appointment.
The womb that should have been the most safe place for her baby to grow and be nurtured has now become the most dangerous place - a soon-to-be place of death and destruction. Generally the abortion is kept secret from as many people as possible - husband/partner, family, friends, GP, work colleagues etc. Yet if nobody knows then nobody can challenge the decision nor can they help afterwards should the abortion occur. The secrecy continues until the denial is broken.
Some women, following an abortion, acknowledge immediately that their baby is dead and they experience the grief within a very short time of the child's death. They go through the 'normal' grieving process and seemingly get on with their lives. However, if they still think that abortion is okay in some circumstances or should be available to anyone, then they are still in denial that they did wrong in killing their child.
The majority of women ensure that their emotions and thoughts about their 'abortion' remain frozen. It is the only way they can survive. It may be many years later that the denial breaks - they give birth to a live baby, they see pictures of aborted babies, they 'find religion', they read an article or see a TV programme or even perhaps their own daughter has an abortion. Anything can break the denial and it can be any number of years after the event. Some women have confessed to having killed their child by abortion after fifty or sixty years have passed and they have lived with the secret all that time. Yet when they finally get to tell their story the pain is as raw as if it happened only yesterday.
The tears of grief allow healing to an extent. Often, it is like a dam bursting with the gut-wrenching sobs finally being released. The pain of the knowledge of 'my child brutally dying at my request'. A child who would have been
- a daughter or son
- a grandchild, brother or sister, uncle or aunt, nephew or niece
- a friend in a classroom
- a future husband or wife to someone else
- a mother or father
- a person with a job or profession
- a person who enjoyed life
The list goes on as to the aspirations of who that child could have been, should have been, if only.......
Some mothers find it helps to give the child a name and visualise how they may have looked. Some mothers write a letter to them explaining why they did what they did. Some mothers ask the child's forgiveness. Some mothers seek a church minister and request some sort of memorial service for their child. They have no body and no grave but they do have a dead child whose death has never fully been mourned. This is a good time to involve other members of the family as the dead child should have been their relative as well.
This can be a very hard time for the mother to pass through as not only may she have just given her baby a body, but she may also have just acknowledged that her baby had a spirit.  S/he wasn't just a 'blob of cells' as she may have been led to believe, but that s/he was a living, moving, growing child within her who is now dead. And now this has been acknowledged she, the mother, must come to a point of letting go and moving on.
The tears and the telling of her story can lessen over time, but the mother may still find the need to ask many of the questions that she had never thought about or been allowed to ask due to the secrecy of her actions.
- What really happened to her baby?
- What was the stage of development at the time s/he died?
- Did s/he feel any pain?
- What is the exact procedure of an abortion operation?
- Why are people allowed to grieve a miscarried child but not a baby that dies by abortion?
- Why does society allow abortion if it kills children?
- Why didn't society recognise her pain?
- Why does God allow abortion?
- Why are there not more people speaking out against abortion?
- Will she ever fully get over the emotional pain she now feels?
- Is she the only person who feels like this?
- Will people around her understand what she has been through?
- Will they forgive her?
- Will God forgive her?
The list of questions the mother who has killed her child by abortion is endless. Only truthful answers will suffice. Only people who fully understand that abortion is wrong in all circumstances and are prepared to speak the truth will be able to help.
Forgiveness may come from those around her, but to find 'the peace that passes all understanding' is found in Christ alone.
Please visit our Healing page if you have had an abortion or supported someone who has.
If you have had an abortion and would like to contact us, in confidence,
Grace at United for Life.