When I was 19 years old, my mother sat me down and said, “Sweetheart, there is something I need to tell you.”
One in four women will have an abortion by the age of 45.1
In light of this fact, it’s reasonable to expect most people have been touched by abortion and the loss it brings. When I was 19 years old, my mother sat me down and said, “Sweetheart, there is something I need to tell you.” She proceeded to tell me the story of her life at 19 years old and the decision she lived to regret, of discontinuing her pregnancy. She had held this secret inside for over 20 years and was just facing the loss! At that time in my life, it made a profound impact on me — both that she had kept this secret so long, and that it was bringing her such grief.
Secrets always hold power over us.
I feel like the longer we keep them, the more overwhelming they become. We think no one can relate. That they won’t understand. That judgement from others will come. Secrets often keep us paralyzed in darkness, fear and shame. From the outside it seems crazy to keep a secret like this. I would never wish this controlling power over someone. But I know from my own secrets of the past, on the inside, the fear is real. One dark secret I held for years was finally whispered to a trusted friend on a quiet, lonely night. I could hardly speak the words. I cringed as they left my lips. The panic ensuing immediately after I spoke only allowed me uncontrollable sobs. As my friend comforted and cried with me, some relief ensued. Honestly, though, it took several days for the darkness of that secret to lift. Some fear remains, but nothing like what had gripped me up to that night. There’s a reason the darkness is scary — you can’t see what’s in it, and your mind plays games on you. Secrets brought from the dark into the light, lose their grip, their fear, their power.
Then there is grief.
Grief is our emotional response to loss. We all experience loss all the time. Loss of time, loss of financial stability, loss of loved ones, loss of a spouse. It can be difficult to work through grief well with each loss. Abortion brings loss. There is a loss of a pregnancy, a loss of what might have been. Like any loss, people having varying responses, and like any loss, it is important to grieve well. Working through grief is key for whole person health. Unresolved grief will eventually weave its way into all areas of our life — even our physical health.
In keeping a secret for 20 years, my mother had not allowed herself to grieve. This resulted in anxiety, depression, self-hatred — all symptoms of what is now referred to as Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome.2 Not all women will experience this. But for those that do, voicing their loss is HUGE. At 19 years old, I held my mother when she voiced her loss. We cried and prayed together and at times cry and pray together again. I love my mother and hold no judgement against her. Even though there was no way I could have protected her from this loss, there is a way I can now walk with her through it. As abortion touches me through her, I pray I can be a small part of her healing, restoration, and health.
By Kim B., Nurse Manager at You Medical