Post-Abortive Family Members

Is your loved one post-abortive?  One in three of all American women are post-abortive.  Abortion PTSD (post-abortion syndrome) impacts the entire family – past, present and future.  Every person related to the aborted child can feel the pain of this choice.  While attention needs to be first focused on the post-abortive woman, understand that her healing can truly impact family dynamics in an incredible way.

If you have a family member that aborted, please know that it’s okay for you to grieve this loss even if they cannot.  Abortion means a whole family line is cut off forever.  As the months and years pass, the impact of this loss can become deeper.

While the initial journey in addressing this pain may be painful, God can bring healing in a short amount of time.  Whether you were part of their abortion experience, or became involved later, your relationship is likely impacted by their abortion and healing.

Many post-abortive women expend a lot of emotional effort to forgetting their abortion experience.  They may seem completely normal one day and a basket case the next.

If they are beginning a healing journey with God, understand they won’t be experiencing these emotions forever.  By addressing post-abortive pain, and grieving this pregnancy loss, they can be completely healed by God and become a much healthier person.

Here are ways you can support them during this healing process:

  • Allow them to talk to you about their deepest emotions and respond with by actively listening and offering compassion.
  • Encourage them to share their feelings with you. Don’t let them try to cover them up again because forgetting post-abortion pain isn’t always possible.
  • Help them to be truthful and honest with their emotions and be prepared to love them in spite of new truths that they may share.
  • Don’t discourage them from mourning even if their tears make you uncomfortable. Their mourning is temporary and helping them find peace.
  • If you have small children, talk to them about their mother’s emotional situation and assure them that she is not upset due to anything they have done.

You may perceive that it might be better to leave this abortion pain alone – especially if addressing it makes them cry. For many post-abortive people, abortion memories are stuck in their throat and they can no longer deny them. Their tears and emotional experiences can be cleansing to their soul and draw them closer to God. Once God breaks down the barriers in a post-abortive heart to healing, it may be impossible to “forget” again.

The post-abortive journey to healing may be painful at first. It’s hard to look at our mistakes and sins.  It’s hard to accept responsibility for our actions. It’s hard to give and receive forgiveness. Yet this is a journey to wholeness.  It is necessary to walk it one step at a time with your loved one!

Please be patiently compassionate with your post-abortive loved one. They need your love now more than ever.  They need to know you will always be there for them and that they can trust and lean on you for emotional support. They need to share with you all their feelings of shame, guilt and grief, realizing you will love them still.

Supporting a post-abortive family member during their healing process can seem daunting.  Please know God is with you.  Keep your eyes on the end of the journey when the chains of this pain fall off and their joy returns.

With their hard work – and God’s help – they will complete this journey with a peace and joy they have never known before. They will be a whole person who can love you at a greater level that you ever expected!

The following is some general information that may help you:

You can talk about the abortion if the post-abortive individual knows you realize this truth.

Please don’t bring up this topic without prayer and a heart that is full of God’s love and compassion. After abortion, post-abortive people can be their own worst enemies.  They need no help in further wounding themselves.  Many sit in these silent prisons of pain waiting for someone to unlock the door.

If they know you know about their abortion, avoiding the topic can signal your rejection to these hearts.  Keeping silent about this fact in their past can reinforce their untruthful conclusion that you do not accept or love them.  Especially around Mother’s day and anniversaries of abortion-rights victories, respond in love and compassion.

If you have heard about her “choice” indirectly, and she does not know that you are aware of her choice, be very careful in approaching the topic directly.

It could be that you have been misinformed.  If you know this truth from credible sources, then you can start by discussing abortion in an indirect manner.

Start with an open heart by saying something like, “Abortion is something that nearly thirty three percent of all women have chosen.  My heart goes out to those who find themselves in these situations.  I understand the pain that is often connected there and the judgment many of these individuals can experience. I hope no one ever perceives me as judgmental.  But for the grace of God, I could have made the same decision.

Her reaction to this calmly spoken message will be your next cue for action.  God’s anointing can fall like rain and the post-abortive can confess this to you openly.  Be ready with love and acceptance, and even honesty about the fact that you knew all along but were afraid to address it because you didn’t want to cause more pain.

If this comment enlists no response, let it be.  I have known many post-abortive women with deeply embedded masks that are strong and tight, allowing no physical response to indicate they have made this choice.  This response has been practiced and performed over and over again.

Post-abortive women in public arenas (pastor’s wives, women’s ministry leaders, etc.) can be amazing in their level of restraint surrounding these emotions.  Do not be alarmed by a lack of reaction or assume their obvious lack of pain means they have a cold heart.

Positive comments invest love into post-abortive hearts.  It can take time for that nourishment to reach her broken root system, breaking the mask’s grip on her hearts.

Perhaps tomorrow, next year or many years from now she will trust you with her truth.  Maybe she never will.  But loving comments like this go a long way to helping God’s love grow in her heart.

In discussing this choice, avoid the direct use of the word “abortion.”

After abortion many post-abortive women hear this word and writhe in pain. They actively avoid the word like a scared rabbit who hears the close noise of the hawk’s fluttering wings as it descends to attack.  There are other ways to address this topic.

A good way to start addressing post-abortive pain is – “I want to talk to you about your pregnancy loss…”

If she becomes uncomfortable and won’t talk, do not push her further.  Simply end the conversation by noting, “I just want to make it clear that I love you and there is nothing you have ever done in the past that could make me think less of you.  I am always here for you.”

Understand that few women chose abortion in a “murderous” mindset.

Frederica Mathewes-Green, a positive-life minded feminist made this accurate quote, “A woman doesn’t want an abortion like she wants an ice-cream cone or a Porsche, but like an animal caught in a trap who gnaws off its own leg.”

Abortion is a legal option and not considered homicide in most nations.   Please avoid derogatory terms about this procedure or encourage their use in any way.  These terms lead the post-abortive into further depths in self-imposed prisons of silence where healing seems impossible.

On another level, the Bible is filled with those who murdered and were offered God’s grace and mercy.  These individuals – King David, Saul/Paul, etc. – were greatly used by God after their sins were confessed.  Each post-abortive woman has the same potential in God’s universe!

Acknowledge your truth to her that had you walked in our shoes, you could have easily made the same choice.

Make this confession every time you hear anyone discussing abortion.  If you don’t think that abortion was a possibility in your past, you are mistaken.  Abortion is a very real option in times of crisis, no matter how much you abhor the concept today.

Post-abortive women need to know that this choice is more common that most imagine and that we are all sinners, guilty and stained before God.  So make a positive statement like, “I know that anyone can make an abortion decision given the right set of circumstances – even me!”

When abortion is discussed, be compassionate!

Be sure to vocally address post-abortive listeners in a kind way.  Offer compassionate responses like, “Excuse me but I heard what you just said.  You may not realize that women who have chosen abortion could be overhearing your comment.  I don’t think you meant to come across as judgmental.  God’s grace extends to us all.  Isn’t that amazing?”

Messages on the sanctity of human life should always include God’s compassion and grace.  

When addressing abortion to any audience, include points like this one — “I know I’m talking strongly against abortion but I also know that there are individuals here today that have chosen abortion.  I want you to know that there is no sin that God cannot forgive!  The problem may be you don’t forgive yourselves and may need help in coming to that healing place.  We are here to help you!”

Make sure you have contacted your local pregnancy center and discovered the ways their programs can assist your congregation in dealing with this pain.

Honor individuals who have made a positive life decision in their unplanned pregnancy situations in a tangible way.

One of the main reasons I chose abortion was to avoid the humiliation my family would endure at the church level should my unplanned pregnancy be discovered.  I had seen how other women in that spot had been treated and shunned.  Many congregations believe honoring these pregnant folks encourages sinful behavior. Truly, that is not the case and that attitude encourages abortion decisions.

Each woman who has chosen life, or made an adoption plan, should be considered heroic and applauded.  Congregations should offer them direct support through baby showers and loving encouragement. In this manner, others who may find themselves in these unplanned situations in the future will be more likely to avoid an abortion decision because they won’t anticipate rejection.

Become educated on post-abortion syndrome and what women experience during abortion procedures.

Watch the videos on Ramah’s web-site, Sydna’s Abortion Testimony and Sydna’s Post-Abortion Healing Testimony, to learn more about what your loved one may have experienced.  My story is very typical.  That is why God has me offer it to you this testimony in a transparent manner.

Obtain a copy of my book Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion.  Read through it and understand this pain at a deeper level. Then the book will be available for you to give to this loved one.

If you are a family member of the post-abortive individual, understand you are also post-abortive at a secondary level.  

You may have a need to grieve this lost child personally.  So many times when related individuals contact me to comfort their post-abortive loved ones, they have not recognized their own pain and grief.

In abortion, a family member has been lost. Lost family members are certainly grieved after their passing – both personally and privately.  The same process should be observed after abortion. Please give yourself permission to grieve this loss!

In the desire to help their loved one, many family members set aside their own needs.

While only limited resources exist for men and grandparents, progress is being made to address these needs as well. The symptoms and healing process of post-abortive pain at a secondary level can be similar for you as well.

If you are in this category, start now by simply asking God to reveal to your heart areas that need addressed.  The resources for post-abortive women can still be helpful for you.