How can I look my daughter in the face and someday tell her that her mother killed her younger sibling and didn't give them a chance to live?
You ask a profound question with multiple possibilities… First of all children are to be protected & shielded from harm as much as possible by their caregivers so the obvious question is ‘why tell’?
Well, there are several opinions on this matter but the first order of business is what is YOUR need to tell? IF, after much soul searching and work on forgiving yourself (as surely God has already), IF after searching your own motives for unloading guilt, or somehow sharing the load or needing your child’s approval or other personal motive of your own you are clear the child needs to know (having consulted a trusted other) then you have to consider the child’s age, maturation etc so you see it is a complex issue.
Stephani, I think you would be very well served by attending a healing weekend for yourself before you waste another moment in recrimination. Or at least see a good counselor or clergyman. Only when you have sorted things out for your own healing can you begin to look outside as to what would be best. Although secrets can be damaging I personally feel my children don’t need to know all of my private life – if I did drugs, sex before marriage, stealing whatever – it’s “private” but not “secret”. However sometimes these things come up and its better to have though through the “what if” so I encourage you to read all three of these articles which cover quite comprehensively other’s experience with telling their children – or not…. Peace and restored joy to you, Celia
I was 20 when i had my abortion. I have always wanted to be a parent. My then boyfriend i thought was my sould mate. I always told if i ever gotten pregnant he could walk away, he could leave and never look back. I was always pro-life. And then i found out i was pregnant. We wheighed all our options, my mother told me if i had the baby i couldn't live with her. Which hurt, she was a young mom also. My then boyfriend told me if i had the baby he couldn't promise he'd be with me, but he'd be apart of the babies life. He was a partier, and i also was alittle bit on the party animal side. but i was willing to give all that up to bring a beautiful baby in this world. I felt like i had no option. I was such a selfhish human being. I made the apointment, i made him go with me, i made him hold my hand as the life he helped me create was ripped from my body. I'll never forget that day. I cried, All day. Even at the appointment i cried so much. But i kept telling myself it was for the best and deep down i wanted to do this. Even though i really didn't. They made me have an ultrasound, i couldn't bare to look at it. Look at the baby i was destroying. A baby who never asked for any of this. I could hear the heart beat, i found out i was 10 weeks along. I tried to tell myself that if i was so far along i wouldnt go through with it. But i did. I became a differant person the day my baby was killed. It ruined my relationship. All i wanted was a baby and even though i had another choice I let a piece of shit make that choice for me. I let him determind what would happen to my child. We broke up, and it all came out that it tore him apart inside. I'll never forget what he said to me " You think i can look at you? Look at you after i made you do that? You think i cant tell youre hurting? I'm hurting to, i know what i made you do and i cant look at you because it hurts so bad." Part of me wishes i wouldnt had let him go back there with me then maybe things would be differant. Part of me wishes i never would've made that choice. I feel like i'm still morning my baby. But how can i mourn a child i let someone rip out of my body? Why should i feel any of this when it was preventable. I could've been a parent....but i choose not to. Everyday it kills me....will it ever go away? Will i ever be okay....will i ever feel better about my choice? Am i horrible person for what i did? do i ever deserve to be a parent for that choice i made?
Dear “mother in mourning”…
yes you can mourn for the woulda, coulda, shoulda been! A child has died, no matter what, and there are layers of grief all around which need to be attended to – the father has abandoned you, the mother let you down and you are your own harshest judge - but where can you get support to work all this out?
Your post is really very honest so I encourage you to use your deep rooted honesty to fully own all the responsibility and accountability that you yourself have in the matter – you are pro-life, you heard the heartbeat, the baby was 10 weeks, you KNEW it was wrong, and so on… what part of this decision can you honestly own and then grieve? That will be the healing journey you must take.
That’s what Rachel’s Vineyard is for, to help sort it all out, to claim responsibility fully for your actions and decisions, to be deeply sorry and to make amends in ways that are helpful to you now and will open the way to healing hope and a new joy in the future in order to honor that little one by making life affirming choices for yourself in the life still to come.
Try to attend a Rachel’s weekend if you can, or at least call your nearest one and see if they can refer you to a counselor to work on this grief and on restoring yourself to the beauty of you that God always sees and has been tarnished by this horrible “choice” - you are not a horrible person but you DID make a horrible decision which has consequences which must be addressed. Don’t wait! Celia
How do I deal with my daughter who had a late term abortion without my knowledge until it was over. I feel like everyone in my family knew but me.. I am grieving so bad. I would have raised my baby grandson but no one told me. I am a Christian women and my heart is broken.
Karen in Ohio
I am so sad for your missing little grandson, he is not alive in this world but as a Christian woman you know he is alive with the Lord and you are STILL his grandma ?) Your heart is broken in so many ways, for the little one, for your daughter, for your own sorrow and so much more… it is going to take some time to grieve all this loss and your daughter is doing her own loss work (I hope) and she is not YOU and will have her own issues to work on, slowly, slowly. Please be patient with yourself, the family and your daughter…
I trust that when you have overcome some of the initial shock that you will be able to bring your faith to bear in loving her no matter what, like a “prodigal” mother? (as our heavenly Father does for all of us despite our weaknesses and our mistakes) and together you will find a way to honor that little boy and go on to live your lives in a new way that reflects a growing wisdom and maturity.
Please look at some of my other replies to Grandmothers who have written, to get some ideas perhaps and to see that there is hope and healing for all of you. (look under “grandmother/grandparent” or “how do I help my daughter”). I wish you hope at this special Christmas season remembering that Jesus was born under difficult circumstances – away from home, in a stable, had to go to another country at first, oh it wasn’t all sweetness and light was it? but God the Father was always with them…
Trust in Him and be at peace, Celia
I have never dreamed about my aborted baby. What does that mean?
Dear Michelle, to be honest I don’t know what that might mean?
Do you think you SHOULD dream of your child? Or have you heard others talk about their dreams related to the children? Myself, I have heard it both ways, funny enough it’s often men who say they dream of the lost child and women who say they never think about it after the abortion - really? So this suggests to me that some denial is going on, of some or all issues related to the abortion because it’s traumatic in many ways and easier (at least for a while) to repress the whole thing.
I have talked to many women over the years who say they never drove down that street where the clinic was – not consciously, they just never went that way again. Or they tell me they couldn’t stand to be around small children and told themselves they just didn’t like kids and would not make a good mother. I also had one woman tell me her kids asked “where are our other brothers and sisters” SHE didn’t have the dream but her children did.
What are you afraid of? That to dream would be disturbing, confusing, painful? Instead why not think of the child in the tender arms of God and well cared for, content and smiling down on his or her Mommy? Able to hear your true feelings and welcoming a connection with Mommy…
It might be time to talk to a sensitive counselor or attend a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend if you haven’t already. Don’t beat yourself up, many, many people do not have dreams – I know from my work with grief and loss in general so ask yourself is it repression, denial or just your personality and seek some help to sort it all out.
I do hope this is helpful, Blessings, Celia
I experience an abortion maybe a month ago. This abortion happened against my will and my begging went basically unheard. The woman that I am with was the woman who went through with the abortion. She now has the feeling that she wants to try to have a child again. I told her that after that abortion I don't feel worthy of children and that i dont even like to touch little kids because it reminds me of that terrible day. How do I get over this? I know that she wants kids because of the bond that it creates, but my child was aborted and it hurt me immensely. I feel like I never want to try to have kids again. FYI I have a daughter with another woman, this woman doesnt allow me to see my daughter at all.
Mike in Houston
So sad to hear about your little child who did not get to come in this life, also the separation from your living daughter… very hard to deal with all this helplessness and powerlessness and the complicated emotions it has brought into your life.
How do you get over this? Well, in time as you process your natural grief, you WILL adjust but a terrible thing has happened, and it will take time to deal with it all in a way that does not disable you but allows you to honor the life of that little child by choosing a more constructive future for yourself (with or without your current partner – she has HER OWN grief work to do and having a “replacement baby” will not help but only add to the trauma).
So, how to process this grief that is so painful just now? You will be doing “grief work” as time passes – just as your partner has hormone fluctuations related to the abortion and emotions about her lost motherhood, so you too have to take the time to let it all sink in – as the months pass there might be an “anniversary reaction” related to the due date or other personal days? Grief work allows you to really know what has happened here, all of it! and to explore the related feelings, then to adjust yourself to the reality of where you are now, both in your own life and this relationship, and then to find a way to accommodate what has happened into your ongoing life.
You might want to think about a way to be with children that is not too personally close right now so that you can restore your fatherhood by perhaps helping others - maybe teaching/mentoring, coaching, whatever makes sense to you or make a donation in the child’s honor? If you are a person of faith there has to be a healing of your spirit too, talk to a trusted pastor or counselor and in time make decisions that will bring you and your partner, if she is willing, closer to a growing and mature relationship. Be patient and gentle with yourself in the meantime, Celia
I have attended a Rachel's vineyard retreat in 2012. I finally was able to forgive myself and knew God forgave me.However, I felt like I was going through the motions of what I was supposed to do, on the retreat and everyday now. What I mean is I am TOTALLY disconnected from myself, my family (husband and 2 children) and from the two aborted babies and a miscarried baby. My constant prayer to God is "bring it on" meaning I want to feel some kind of remorse...I feel NOTHING. When I try to grieve any of the losses I am intellectually conscious of (3 babies, my whole adult life from 17 until now...im 45..my relationships with husband and live children..a career..God) I come up with one answer"It is not true..they were not real humans.." I had a miscarriage and the only thing I could ever think of with that was "oh thank you God..if you took my baby away ..then me taking the other two couldnt have been that bad..and I never even cried a tear for the miscarried one..how can this be? PS I never cried over any deaths of my grandparents or loved ones...the only time i experience a deep pain and despair is when I hear someone has committed suicide...and that is just local persons that i may have casually seen once. I know I must have a heart ...I did when I was younger..i was known for that..I had two abortions when i was 17 and 20..I did not think of them once until i had my son 14 years ago.. and recently after the retreat..never cried over the abortions either..thanks
Dear “must have a heart”
Thank you for the courage to write… and I am glad you attended an RV weekend but it’s not magic or even a quick fix for most of us. First, Forgiveness is NOT a feeling, it’s a DECISION and clearly you decided and took all the steps but the feelings still seem to be muted. But once forgiveness is present in your life and you begin to live out of that instead of guilt or resentment the feelings of shame are replaced by joy, peace and contentment. Why is it not happening for YOU?
You give a clue that painful issues have been “disconnected” for you ever since you were young. I wonder what that’s about… what happened, maybe even before the abortions, to deaden your joy? I think you may have other stones that you need to take up and “own’ for a while to figure out what it is you are still carrying? And don’t be in a hurry - you have decades of pain and sorrow to name and claim and only when you are ready do you put them down.
I think at 45 it’s time you decided that you deserve the deep peace that comes with the honesty, accountability and personal responsibility for all that has happened (which you so clearly have already done) and that you put those stones down now. You cannot change the past but you CAN heal the wounds of the past right now in the present! It’s time, and your husband and living children need to have you truly present and not a shadow of the precious self that God created… and your children in heaven are advocates for their Mommy to live a rich and full life until you can ALL be together again....
It might help to talk this over with a trusted counselor, maybe your Rachel team can help you find a counselor who understands the trauma of abortion and how that and other life traumas interfere with your sense of our own goodness? I will keep you in my prayers for a continuing healing journey?))
I'd like to give a little back story to my question before I answer it.
Over a year ago, with a girlfriend I was dating for 4 months at that point, I got her pregnant. We had been waiting for the "right moment," and we both felt like we were ready and in love. Though it was out of wedlock and perhaps irresponsible, it felt so right. Since that first night with her, I knew that child and what happened was meant to be. We made love on the first day of the year, 2013. She was out of cycle. It was our first time. So many things added up and came together. I had never felt so protective over someone and in love.
Three weeks later, she decided she couldn't do it. Her mom had cancer and it was getting worse, and she was worried about her future and being alone. I pleaded with her. I fought very hard for her to keep it. But in the end I "manned up" and went with her to the clinic. It was such an empty feeling. To this day, I cannot explain to you or anyone how RIGHT it felt that our child was born, but on that snowy day she was taken away from us. We named her Sophia.
Now, we are not together. Recently things have gotten more and more complicated in our relationship. I go back and forth. I feel an inseparable connection with her yet I do not feel as if I am IN love with her anymore. I struggle with this dynamic.
My question is: How do I get over the feeling of wanting to protect her (and thus wanting to talk to her, be with her, etc.) when I know I do not want to be with her anymore. I want to start over and move on. But it is very hard.
Chris in Washington, DC
Dear Sophia’s Dad,
Your honest questions are powerful and poignant, you are left with unfinished business between you and the girlfriend… that’s why you feel the “inseparable connection”. Accepting responsibility and accountability for your part in what has happened will allow you to grieve this loss, ask forgiveness of yourself, the girl, the child and God. If you can, ask the girlfriend to share with you some ritual or symbolic act that honors little Sophia (plant a tree, name a star, donate, have prayers said) whatever makes sense to you both - that would be very healing for both of you.
You will need to assure her this is not a ploy to win her back but simply that, together, you made this precious child and, together, you need to grieve her, honor her brief little life and agree to go on with your lives in a way that is respectful of how you have both been changed by the abortion. If she is unwilling you could still do something yourself that recognizes all that has happened in this short year…
Rachel’s Vineyard weekends are very powerful healing opportunities for you both (together or separately) but if that is not possible right now consider honoring Sophia by some action that makes sense to you and allow the beginnings of healing so that you can let go of all this confusion and let go of the dream that never was in order to make room for the truth and an authentic future…
I had an abortion 18 years ago and I've been silently grieving the loss of my baby ever since. I was 24, married, unfaithful & pregnant. What a mess I had gotten myself in to. My husband had wanted me to get an abortion because the baby might not have been his. I never told the other man that I was pregnant because I assumed he would've wanted nothing to do with it. The only time I cried was immediately after the abortion and one of the staff asked, "Why are you crying?" I don't remember my response. I don't remember where the abortion took place. I don't remember the date of the abortion (May?) or the due date (December) of the baby. Aside from discussing getting an abortion with one sister (I don't remember how the conversation went, but I do remember that she mentioned that one of my other sisters had had an abortion), I never discussed the abortion with anyone else-I was too embarrassed-I knew better than to have sex without birth control. A couple of years ago, my second husband found out about my abortion accidentally. He inquired about it, I told him "it was before you" and that was the end of the discussion. Through the years, I picked children the same age as my baby would have been off the giving tree at Christmas. I recently got up the courage to confess "I had an abortion" to my priest. That was the first time I ever said "I had an abortion." It was liberating. How come there's so much I don't remember? How come I haven't had any dreams with my baby in them? How am I supposed to go forward when I can't stop looking backwards?
Dear “can’t remember”
That is the nature of trauma (post abortion trauma) that memories are repressed because it’s so traumatic! Don’t be in a hurry – you have 18 years of painful memories to unload and it’s so wonderful you have finally had the courage to confess! It’s liberating as you say, but now begins the work of unloading the years of regret. Be gentle and patient with yourself as it’s likely the memories will filter in as you allow yourself to heal.
Take baby steps so you don’t get overwhelmed. It may help to remind yourself that having an abortion is a bad thing but YOU are not bad, you are still a child of our merciful God, who has made a bad choice. You are sorry, have confessed and want to put that old past to rest. Now begins the grief journey – sorrow for the missing little one, sorrow for the years lost in denial and blame, sorrow for all the woulda, coulda, shoulda of your life.
Reclaiming your baby slowly and thoughtfully will allow you to “claim” him or her and then return the precious child to our heavenly Father for safe-keeping until you are reunited in another time and place… think about what would make sense to you to honor that little one? You have made a start by using the giving tree- maybe plant a tree in honor or name a star or fund a scholarship? Maybe your husband would like to be part of this process, it could be healing for both of you and enriching for the marriage? But, again, baby steps, take time and discernment in prayer now to see what comes up.
Consider attending a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend – there you will find hope and help for the grief journey with other wounded souls and in the safety of a nourishing and compassionate environment. It will allow you to go forward with hope and new joy! Good luck, Celia
After reading Psalm 32 over and over again I know God can forgive my sins of murdering His children before their first breath, however how can I forgive myself? I can't imagine a life where I can "move on" and live when i stole another's chance to do the same. It's been a long time since, but i know their ages and I know I took away their most basic right, life.....
It is a common idea that “moving on” means to put behind you or forget what has happened. We have guilt and shame about abortion especially since it is such a secret grief and there is not much support for the usual avenues of expressing our grief.
You will never forget your children but you CAN let go of the raw pain of their missing and have renewed peace and joy again. Of course you cannot go back and change history, but this does not mean that you are forever stuck in unending grief, you will never forget but you don’t have to be disabled by the pain but reconciled in your heart to honor their lives in a way that has meaning for you.
... I am glad that you are clear that God has forgiven you but understand that it is YOU that you have to forgive now. Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling; it is important then that you find a way to forgive yourself. It is a journey, and will require patience, gentleness and the support of others who have gone before you to teach you how to live your life now with a new respect for the wisdom of the psalms and other teachings. Jesus often said to those who sinned “Go, and sin no more”. AND He meant it!
Robert Anderson says “death ends a life but not a relationship” – and research shows that we have “Continuing Bonds” with those who are not here and this is a very comforting reality that allows us to construct a new relationship with the ones who have died. I am so sorry about your children but you can trust that they, being innocent, took their first breath in heaven and are safe with God and happily at play in the fields of the Lord. This relationship continues and changes over time, and you say it has been a long time – your children are safe in the arms of the creator so that you may safely engage in the life that is left to you knowing that they wish you only joy and peace.
This is not to minimize or condone the abortions but to look back with your current wisdom and understanding and to free yourself from further condemnation and interminable grief which is blocking you from healing...to forgive yourself you first need to understand what it is that you DID. Forgiving yourself is to understand what you are really accountable and responsible for.. Our God is a God of mercy, as the psalm says, He longs to heal. He stands ready to embrace you and all your sorrow but you must open the door and let Him enter. Take a fresh look at the past with gentleness and compassion for the mistakes and misunderstandings and surrender them to Him – you cannot undo the past but you do not need to be punished continually.
In the meantime, remember the apostles, they made mistakes, Peter denied the Lord and we KNOW He loved Him and yet he denied Him anyway… and what did Jesus say the next time He saw Peter? “My peace I give you”.
Consider attending a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend. The weekend is designed to help you slowly to revisit and rework what happened with integrity and honesty, but also with the support of those who have gone before you. In a gentle and loving environment you can experience the pain without coming undone and eventually allow yourself to accept God’s unconditional love and forgiveness.
Trust Him, I will be praying for you, Celia
How long does the grieving process take??
Grief has a beginning and an end - but time by itself does not heal and grief will not resolve if there is no "grief work" being done. How long does this work take? Well it depends on many things, how much support you have (typically in abortion grief not much), your understanding of what it means to forgive yourself, God, the others, your present life situation - what else is impacting you now, maybe you are still in a negative relationship? so many things to consider... if you take accountability for your grief process it will in time resolve into the gentle memory of mourning-
Mourning is lifelong - we don't forget (we may ignore, deny etc.) but we never forget.
If raw grief is till present after many months a person may be "stuck" not having support, information and a way to resolve the grief that is helpful - that's why the Rachel's Vineyard experience is so incredibly freeing, a way to process the raw, seemingly unending grief, have resolution of heavy issues and a path to healing and freedom and recovered joy in this life!
Hope that helps, Peace, Celia