Post Abortion Grief

Professionals helping people recover and thrive

Life is a process of ups and downs and during these down phases everything seems too much to cope with. Our professional therapists are highly skilled and experienced in assisting and supporting you during these difficult, and often challenging times.

In our society today, there are still certain losses, deaths and bereavements which are taboo subjects. Abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth and suicide are still losses which are not socially acceptable to discuss. Perhaps because we choose to see these as unnatural occurrences.

Abortion is often a decision made in secret and isolation by a woman, and/ or her partner. If she does then experience a sense of loss as a consequence of the abortion decision, she may not be able to acknowledge this to herself or others, that she is grieving. She may even try to forget the experience and move on with her life as if nothing changed. This may especially be the case if a woman is very young, has little or no emotional support from family and friends, or denies her own internal experiences. These feelings and emotions of loss can surface in the future, perhaps even stronger around the original due date, or when seeing pregnant women or small babies.

The grief process following abortion is probably the most difficult to recognize, as it is one of those losses we would rather forget. The surface experience after an abortion is generally one of relief; however, a woman who does not mourn the loss of her pregnancy, may experience the grief in some subsequent loss.

We need to acknowledge abortion happens, and this experience can have an impact on a woman and her loved ones, and should not be a taboo subject in the 21 Century. We have the right to grieve these losses just as any other person grieving a socially acceptable loss. We are human, and we experience and grieve after loss, and should be allowed to do so with support.

We generally live our lives by a structure which contains our beliefs, values, culture, religion and/ or spiritual orientation. When part of our journey of life contains the experience of post abortion grief, it can challenge the premises of this very structure of our being, raise important questions for us to consider, confront our own truths, and make room to explore new possibilities about how our life will continue. When faced with the end of a previous life structure it can leave us scared, shaken and not safe in the world at all. This transitioning of life structures requires us to look at our world through a different and altered set of values and beliefs.

This experience and transition can either shut us down or open us up. Abortion is not a matter of right or wrong, but a decision which can bring acute and chronic emotional implications for the individual, and those she is in relationship with. Abortion has been referred to as a relational wound, an event that leaves the natural rhythm and sequence of life interrupted, unfinished; accompanied by a sense of loss which can seem forever unresolved (Burke, 2007).

We need to understand the importance of having support during the time of an unplanned pregnancy, and the decision to end the pregnancy or to continue with the pregnancy. It is about creating a space, internally and externally, which allows the consideration of all options; providing the individual with information and education which could assist her in making an informed decision.

Further reading:

Burke, T. (2007). Forbidden Grief. USA: Acorn Books

Haslam, D. (1996). Coping with a Termination. GB: Reed International Books, Ltd.