10 Steps to Emotional Recovery after an Abortion
Sarah M. Farrell
The steps to begin healing from any trauma can look similar. This is because there are some standard components that are needed in order to facilitate recovery and healing. These can include, but are not limited to, time, support, and a willingness to begin the journey. Healing after an abortion can be inordinately complicated as there are so many external and internal factors associated with pregnancy, and, ultimately, abortion. There are always others involved—the mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, even though they might not know they are involved. Reasons for choosing abortion aside (and these can also be pretty complicated), there are some basic steps that can help women (and men) to recover after an abortion. Now, time for a disclaimer: Healing and recovery are not a one-size-fits-all sort of venture. However, here are some steps that might help you as you begin the process.
1. Accept Your Feelings
It does not matter what your feelings are. Take time to think through and notice what you are feeling ̶ without internal judgment. Simply begin to unpack those feelings and attempt to understand what they are.
2. Accept Your Mistakes
Nobody can tell you how to feel about having had an abortion. Some women describe deep guilt about what they have done. Others describe a lack of feelings altogether. Still others describe relief. It may take time to begin the grieving process. Accepting your feelings about the abortion and about the mistakes you have made is an important step.
3. Give Yourself Time to Feel Deeply
Now that you have begun to examine your actions, and have gained some understanding about what you are feeling, give yourself time to feel these feelings at a deeper level. Find a safe space in which to begin to feel sadness, grief, or whatever it may be that arises.
4. Believe that God Can Forgive
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” – Psalm 103: 8-10
5. Accept His Forgiveness
“For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” – Psalm 103:10-12
6. Begin to Let People in and Accept Support
If significant people in your life do not know about your abortion, some women find it helpful to begin to allow them access to this knowledge about you. I would caution, however, that this information does not need to be shared with everyone (or anyone), unless you choose. Moreover, ensure that it is people with whom you have built a trust-filled relationship at this point.
7. Memorialize Your Child’s Life
Some women find it helpful to memorialize their child’s life. You can find ideas for this online and in other materials, but the most important aspect of this step is finding something that holds personal meaning for you.
8. Create a Yearly Ritual
There are many options for doing this. However, not everyone finds this step helpful.
9. Forgive Yourself
This is not easy. But forgiving yourself is a process that prayer and the support of others can help you to begin.
10. Begin to Make Steps to Move Forward
Your abortion has probably changed things about both you and your life circumstances. Beginning to accept God’s forgiveness and forgiving yourself will allow you to begin to make changes in your life.
Christian Counseling to Move Forward After an Abortion
This article does not present a recipe for healing or recovery. Instead, these are some suggestions that will not work for everyone. If you would like to begin your process of healing and recovery, and feel that you need additional help, please reach out and find it. As a Christian counselor, I am convinced that you are not beyond forgiveness. God heals and forgives. Many pregnancy resource centers have support groups and post-abortion counseling. If you would like to begin the journey by walking alongside someone, the therapists at Tacoma Christian Counseling would be pleased to help you begin to gain momentum in your path forward.
“Orange Sky and Freedom,” courtesy of pixels.com and splitshire.com;
“Solitary,” courtesy of Chris Sardegna, unsplash.com/css