Monday, October 29, 2012

Trauma CAN'T BE because of abortion, can it?

Last week, I went to a "Silent No More" program at church last week and speakers told their stories of how regret for their abortions has caused significant trauma in their lives. Father Eric Andersen spoke about "forbidden grief." Many women and men are not aware that they have a right to mourn their lost child, because of the anger they feel at themselves for having been the one to take that life. To heal, giving yourself permission to grieve is a critical step in the process of forgiving yourself.

However, "forgiving yourself" is far from the mind of many women who obtain abortions.

When I first heard the words, "forbidden grief," I thought about a different meaning. I thought of how women today are told that in abortion, there is nothing to grieve. After all, if the fetus is not considered a baby, a person, or even human, to remove its existence from the world should be less traumatic than having a kitten run over by a car. If any woman DID express grief, trauma or guilt, most people wouldn't understand.

I've known women who went to licensed counselors to talk about grief and trauma over abortion and the therapist has been quick to credit the reason for the trauma to something else. So, when a woman is in pain and goes for help, she often receives no validation at all for her experience. She thinks it's crazy to even consider how her emotional problems might be related to a past abortion.

When I posted before that a great many women do not regret their abortions, I meant what I wrote. However, therapists may dig for issues like past abuse when, very often, the trauma of an abortion may be causing turmoil and self-destructive behavior.

Isn't it odd to live in a society where few think its even possible that choosing to end a human life might have traumatic consequences? Isn't it disturbing?
Forbidden Grief is the title of a book by Theresa Burke, PhD, who is also the founder of Rachel's Vineyard retreats to help those experiencing trauma from abortion.

Dr. Burke also writes about how repressed feelings may be acted out through self-destructive behavior, broken relationships, obsessions, eating disorders, parenting difficulties, and other emotional or behavioral problems.

Recently, it has occurred to me that many women may wonder why they are having problems with eating disorders, suicidal ideation, nightmares, etc. and the last thing they may think to consider the cause may be a past abortion. People will actually get more support in our society today for believing that their trauma was caused by an alien abduction than for their belief that the trauma may have been related to an abortion.

Not only is the grief forbidden, but the guilt is forbidden, the trauma is forbidden. It's almost as if being a natural woman, with protective maternal feelings, is forbidden.

It may be forbidden everywhere else, but give yourself the gift of pastoral counseling or a Rachel's Vineyard retreat if you wonder if having abortion might have something to do with problems you've been having that don't seem to have any other cause.

Your authentic feelings matter there and you have permission to grieve. Hope for healing is available.

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