14 Feb Finding Healing After an Abortion
By June Bai
It is common for women to think that after an abortion, the “problem is solved” and life will return to normal. What nobody tells them before the abortion is the emotional pain they may experience after the abortion. This usually leaves them unprepared, and the pain may be further aggravated when they keep the abortion secret and suffer in silence.
Common Emotional Effects After An Abortion
After an abortion, a woman may feel relieved that the “problem” is now gone. As time passes, intense emotional pain may replace the sense of relief as she starts to process all that has happened. Guilt and shame can overwhelm her. Self-condemning thoughts may replay in her mind. There is a deep sense of loss and emptiness within her, as if something has been taken away from her.
A woman may be angry at herself and the father of the child. She may be angry with everyone else involved in the abortion. As bitterness simmers inside her, she struggles with unforgiveness towards herself and those who have hurt her.
In all of these, it is common for a woman to shut off these emotions as they may be too much for her to bear. To suppress the nagging feelings of guilt for ending the life of her unborn child, she may try to convince herself that her baby was just a lump of cells. Rationalising that she is better off without the child, she attempts to move on and forget about the abortion.
Hard as she may try to forget about it, triggers such as the sight of pregnant women and babies would bring up the pain that she is trying to suppress. She may find herself thinking about her baby and how life would have been like if she had kept her child. Dates such as the expected delivery date of the baby or the abortion anniversary may cause her to plunge into depression again. Eventually, she wonders if she will ever be healed from the pain of the abortion.
How You Can Help
The turning point comes when she chooses to surface what she has done in darkness into light. A woman in anguish may find it difficult to share her story with someone, especially if she feels she will be judged. As she shares her story with you, healing starts when she feels understood and loved. Here are some ways you can help and support her.
- Give her as much time as she needs to share her story and pour out her emotions
- Respond with empathy
- Acknowledge her emotions
- Remind her not to be too hard on herself
- Avoid being quick in offering solutions
- Love her in the way she receives love
- Assure her repeatedly that you love her and do not judge her
- Be physically present
- Surprise her with little gifts
- Offer to run some errands for her
- A simple pat on her shoulder speaks of love and compassion
- Create a safe and non-judgemental environment
- Be very conscious of your facial expression and body language
- Assure her of confidentiality
- Plant a thought in her mind to seek help
- Avoid asking insensitive questions just to satisfy your curiosity
- Avoid pointing fingers at anyone
- Avoid sharing your opinion on abortion
- Lastly, paint a picture of hope for her
Tell her she can walk out of this pain one day. Share stories of women who have found healing and restoration after abortion.
Healing for the Woman
It takes great courage and determination for a woman to walk through a healing journey as this requires her to confront painful memories of the abortion. As such, she needs to seek healing in a safe, loving and non-judgemental environment.
In Singapore, there are avenues for a woman to seek healing. Buttons Project Singapore runs post abortion healing programs and a support group for women who have been through abortion. She may also consider joining a Catholic-based, post-abortion healing retreat run by Rachel’s Vineyard.
June Bai is the founder of Buttons Project Singapore, which provides a platform for people affected by abortion to take a step towards healing by sending in physical buttons.