I am defined, in some part at least, by the death of my extremely premature sons. My life changed during those days, waiting for their death and praying for them to live, and nothing was the same afterwards. I’ve been privileged in recent months to meet with a group of women who have shared the loss of their children, we all have different stories but are united in our grief and our triumphs and a lot of unanswered questions. It’s been inspiring and heavy to sit through their stories, to listen to them tell about their children, whether they only had days or years to know them.
We’ve wept together and laughed together, and we are safe in that place, to tell our stories, to honor our children by saying their names out loud, to remember together what it felt like, what it feels like, to love someone in such a deep way, and to put a voice to the what-ifs that we won’t get answers to, on this side of eternity.
I’ve been struck during those sessions, though, with an awareness of the complicated place that a post-abortive mother lives in. As a society, we are trained to think of an aborted baby as tissue, as products of conception, as an inconvenience we should be relieved to rid ourselves of. No regrets! they say, and a woman who finds herself with a gaping hole in her heart has nowhere to go. For the post-abortive woman who has been faced with the realization that there was a baby, to speak out would be to not only take on her own guilt and grief, but to face a doctrine of feminism that is rabidly and violently defended, benefiting no one.
There are ministries designed to support a grieving post-abortive woman, ministries like Rachel’s Vineyard and others, but there is a haunting silence in the local church, in large part because these women carry such shame. The reality is, the numbers of post-abortive women in our midst are staggering. Any congregation would find a group of women in need of post-abortion counseling and support, if the question could be posed in a safe way. A woman who already feels the shame of her choice, the regret and the heartbreaking loss is not going to want to add to that load any degree of condemnation from her church and friends. She needs a safe place to share her story, without a hint of blame, because she already knows. Nobody needs an extra Holy Spirit, we have a really good one, but we all need a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.
It is important for a woman grieving the loss of her child to be able to name them, to remember them, to mourn them. I think support could begin with something as simple as a private Facebook group for women in a local church or group to share stories with each other, to begin to break the silence, or a quiet meeting at a home, where women could sit face to face with their sisters in loss and find that they are far from alone.
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How can we, as members of local churches and friends of hurting women, open a door to talk about the pain and the loss, to name their children, to grieve with those who grieve? What are some practical ways we could serve these women?
LifeNews Note: Jess Clark divides her time between writing, breaking up fights over Buzz Lightyear, and traveling with a missionary rock and roll band. She and her husband Richy have 3 biological children and recently adopted their 4th. reprinted with permission from Bound4Life’s blog.