Use the links below to read of the healing many have found through the Rachel's Vineyard experience.  Click here to tell your story.

My name is Susan Swander; I’m a 73-year old who lives in Waldport, Oregon. This is the story of my 3 abortions and my healing from Post-Abortion Trauma. I have two goals in sharing my story. First, I want to tell all post-abortive parents that there is hope and healing. Second, I want to make sure that anyone considering an abortion is aware of the horror that awaits them. The abortion providers will not give out the relevant information; they will not mention Post Abortion Trauma.

After 3 abortions and 1 miscarriage (which I believe resulted from the abortions), I spent years drinking, drugging, over-eating and living a promiscuous, sinful life. I had no idea that the pain in my life had anything to do with the abortions.

My healing began in small ways – in 1981 with the birth of my son, in 1985 with God’s gift of sobriety, and in 1997 with my return to my Catholicism. In the fall of 2003, I saw a box ad in the St. Anthony’s Catholic Church bulletin for Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats for post-abortion healing. I went to the Rachel’s Vineyard web site ( and wept buckets of tears as I read it. It was the first time in 36 years that I really looked at my abortions for what they were – the loss of my 4 children.

It took me awhile to get up the courage to call, but thank God I did. I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat in April 2004. What a remarkable, healing experience this weekend was. Words do not do justice to the love, compassion, and understanding I found during the retreat. Perhaps most importantly, I met and named my four children – Luke, Grace, Teresa (miscarried) & Benjamin. I found forgiveness – from them and from God. I am learning to forgive myself. Each time that I share my story, I heal a little more. At my retreat, I promised my children that I would no longer hide them and that I would share our story whenever I could.

If you are reading this and are contemplating an abortion, please reconsider. It will cause you untold pain and heartache. If you have had an abortion, please know that healing is available. None of us has to live alone with the shame, guilt and pain that come after an abortion.

Susan Swander
I am a woman, 62 years old, who is beginning to experience a deep sense of freedom from a lifelong acceptance of depression. I say ‘acceptance of depression’ because after many years of trying to overcome it, I eventually came to accept that depression was my lot in life. A ‘lot’ which I have lived with for many decades.

About 4 years ago I began to experience a spiritual awakening – a return to God and to my Catholic faith. This renewal of my faith has led to many moments of freedom from the deep depression I have known for so long and has given me a sense of hope that has grown over these past few years.

Some months ago, I was reminded of the abortion that I had 45 years ago. That reminder became a persistent recurring thought in my mind that led me to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat.

On my retreat, I found a group of wise and caring people who just genuinely wanted to help me heal from a self-inflicted wound I had made when I was 18 years old. A wound that affected me more deeply than I could ever have known at the time. We cannot kill our own child and not suffer the consequences.

For me, I consciously blocked out all the negative emotions associated with my abortion and carried on with life. I knew that I had shut down the part of me that was ashamed of what I had done, but I never realized just how much my abortion cost me -- the toll that it had taken in my soul. For 45 years, I carried a carefully buried self-hatred and an unacknowledged grief for my child, never realizing the full extent of how it changed me. How much it cost me in my ability to give and to receive love. How it manifested most profoundly in depression.

During my retreat, I opened that box of repressed emotions. I honestly looked at what I had done and allowed God to begin to heal the deep wounds in my soul. I acknowledged the love that I have for the child I never knew. And I came face to face with the reality that I had ended the innocent life that God had given to me. Through repentance and through sharing my grief, I am finding the beginnings of true freedom.

Since my retreat a few months ago, I have continued to heal. Continued to grieve. Continued to accept the reality and scope of my choice so many years ago. And I have continued to find freedom. Freedom from self-hatred. Freedom from depression. Freedom from self-imposed isolation. I find that I am entering into a fuller life. A life with snatches of hope for the future. A life more inclined to see myself as worthy of life. Worthy of love. Worthy of some kind of goodness here on this earth.

It is only since tasting this freedom that I have come to realize just how much my abortion cost me. I am now beginning to know spaces of time that are totally free from depression. And I find that I now crave the love that I shut down so long ago.

Our society tells us that abortion is a ‘procedure’ that will make our lives better. My experience has taught me otherwise. Rachel’s Vineyard helped me to discover a path that leads to profound healing, true freedom and a realization that I am finally coming home. Home, because home is where I am free to be my truest self and I am only now encountering who I was created to be.

I pray that every woman who every had an abortion may find the same healing and hope that I have found here. I am truly home.

Linda in Kansas
While listening to the Catholic Radio one day, I learned about Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. I called and spoke with a coordinator in Los Angeles. The few minutes she spent with me on the phone was very therapeutic. Other than the priests to whom I confessed my sins, she was the first person to know about my unborn children. It was a very emotional call! I was in tears while I shared my story with her. She listened attentively and offered me words of encouragement and gave me a lot of hope. She invited me to join one of their retreats or attend one closer to home. Many years have passed, but I did not have the courage to attend a retreat until December 2021. I remember coming home from the retreat telling my husband that I had a 1-1 with God during the first night. I was seated at a dining table on my own, and a priest sat with me. No one else joined us. We shared personal stories with each other over dinner. It was very nice, and it gave me a feeling that God was there to have a conversation with me. The prayers, the talks, and the activities we did that weekend were very encouraging and uplifting. I love the fact that we were given opportunities to have 1-1 with the spiritual counselors and psychologists as well as go to confession and Adoration and attend a Holy Mass. The questions I had in mind were all answered. I learned that I can kiss the faces of my children and tell them that I love them because they can hear. I also learned that no matter where I have been, Jesus has been there for me and that God looks at His children always with love.

Here is my story …

The Greatest Lessons I have Learned Throughout My Life

Over the years, I have learned many different lessons in life, but the greatest of them all are these: 1) Fear God more than anyone, anything, or any situation, and 2) Avoid all situations that may easily lead you into sin.

February 8, 1991 - a day I will never ever forget. On this particular day, I committed a horrendous sin. I never thought I would go against what my parents taught me about sexual acts. Regrettably, after dating my boyfriend for several years, I disregarded their advice. My boyfriend tried numerous times to be intimate with me, but he respected me each time I refused. However, about a couple of years before our wedding I allowed myself to give in to temptations. Knowing that we will be getting married soon diminished my self-control. The fact that everyone was aware that we were engaged opened the gateway for me to let my guard down. My plan to keep myself pure for my wedding night was overpowered by the sin of the flesh.

Naturally, the act resulted in unplanned pregnancy. When I first learned that I was pregnant, I had so much joy in my heart. I remember smiling from ear to ear when I called the lab department and the person I spoke with uttered the words "your blood test is positive". I was so elated to know that I was pregnant! Then suddenly, I felt different emotions. Fear enveloped my whole being! Various thoughts came rushing into my mind. What have I done? What will my parents do to me when I tell them? What will everyone else say? I was 22 years old and single. Being single and pregnant is not something that my parents wanted for me. I remember a family friend once told them that I would be pregnant soon when they learned I already have a boyfriend. How my mother responded is still very fresh in my mind to this day. She told this man, "She's not like the other girls. She's a good girl and will finish school and get married first." I knew that it would break my parents' hearts when they found out the situation I was in. Because I didn't want to hurt them and ruin my reputation, especially theirs, I decided to not bring my first child to birth. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my whole life! I cried for months, but no one knew--not even my boyfriend, nor my siblings, nor my closest friends. I felt so alone! I couldn't confide in anyone as I was afraid that I would be judged. I was so disgusted with myself! I cried silent tears at night so no one at home would suspect anything was wrong. I regretted my decision! I went on living pretending I was OK, but in reality I was very miserable. I was broken!

I promised myself that I would never be in the same situation again, but the enemy of my faith lured me into going against my vow. Sadly, not even a year had passed, I found myself breaking my own promise. Just like with my first pregnancy, my initial reaction was the same as that of any expecting mother. I was ecstatic to know that I was pregnant! I even heard a little voice inside of me saying, "I am going to be a mom!" I was thrilled and very happy to learn I was pregnant again! Those feelings came so quickly but faded away twice as fast. The thought of my father hurting me physically for not honoring what he had taught me brought those feelings to instantly end.

On November 06, 1991, I had to make a dreadful decision of not giving my second child a chance to be born. At the clinic I wanted to run away, but a strong force was holding me back. The nurse told me that what's forming inside of me was just a blob of tissue. Her words gave me a certain reassurance that what I was about to do was not a big deal. Somehow those words lessened my guilt. After the procedure, I cried my heart out for so long. For several months, I screamed and yelled silently so no one would hear. I was so ashamed about what I did that I had to keep it a secret from my family and friends. I suffered very much because of my heartless and selfish decisions. I wished I was much stronger than the temptations I had to face and that I was brave enough to endure the punishment my parents would have given me. I wished that someone had been there to talk me out of it and that my doctor had offered me information about the aftermath of such a procedure and didn't just ask me if I was sure I wanted to go through it.

Even after so many years have passed whenever I hear people talk about losing their babies the same way I did, I would still feel a certain pinch in my heart. At a young age, I did not think that I would face emotional and spiritual turmoil. Neither my doctor nor any of the medical staff told me that the effects of not allowing your body to go through the normal stages of pregnancy are so grievous. No one explained to me that the guilt would eat me up inside and cause me years of depression and anxieties.

I have never forgotten--not even for one day--that God gave me two precious children, but they did not get to see the light of this world. I prayed to God constantly to forgive me for my sins. Despite all the prayers I said, the guilt continued to haunt me. Close to a decade later, I had the courage to go to confession for the very first time. I went to Saint Patrick's Church. Tears were flowing down my cheeks continuously as I revealed my stories to a priest. A heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders after I walked out of the confessional booth. Somehow though it still felt I haven't done enough to deserve God's forgiveness. The guilt stayed with me for many years, and it would creep back especially during the times when I lost my second-born daughter through stillbirth and my youngest son through a tragic accident. Then, it dawned on me that I need to do more than the penance the priest told me to do. I thought that if I do something else I would be more at peace. So, I went to confession again for the second time. Eventually, I regained that peace I have been longing for. More importantly, I learned to forgive myself completely. Although there is still sadness in my heart when I think of my children, the guilt has left me.

One day in 2009, the year when my children would have turned 18 years old, I heard on Catholic Radio about certain things that I can do to show my children that I regret what I did. First is to ask them for their forgiveness and second is to give them names, and so, I did. Although I will never know their true genders, my heart tells me that my first child is a girl and my second child is a boy. I named my daughter Gabrielle (God is My Strength) and my son Emmanuel (God is With Us).

A few months later, I decided to join a "40 Days for Life'' devotion. I went in front of abortion clinics and joined other pro-lifers in prayers. I ordered a few pro-life prayer cards and rosaries to share with others and to keep for myself, and I prayed that I would be able to save others from a life-long trauma. I offered novenas numerous times for end of abortion, and I prayed for the conversion of all the doctors who perform abortions and the staff who assist them. I also joined several pro-life walks, one of which was held on a stormy day. The bad weather didn't stop me from joining. Rain or shine I told myself that I would walk in honor of Gabrielle and Emmanuel and all the babies who were victimized by abortion. On that very day, one of my sisters joined me. On other occasions, even our husbands, children and other family members joined us. Except for my husband, none of them knew my personal reason for joining the walk.

I am so thankful that God has restored my peace. One day in 2012 when I was praying for the soul of my youngest son whom I lost unexpectedly that year and for the souls of my precious children whom I never got to meet, I heard the name Alexander loud and clear soon after I mentioned Emmanuel's name. I was alone in the bedroom. I realized I heard the voice internally, and I took that as God telling me to call my first son Emmanuel Alexander. Then in a dream in 2018, I saw a balloon taped in front of a door. The balloon has the word "MOM" printed on it. As I was looking at it, I heard the name "Diana" spoken. I looked around, but no one was there with me. So, I came to realize it was the voice of God I heard. When I woke up, I took my dream as God's message for me to call my first daughter Gabrielle Diana.

I did not know abortion is considered a mortal sin and that it separates us from God. Nevertheless, I shouldn't have ignored the initial feelings that came to me during my first two pregnancies because those feelings were pure and the ones God would have wanted me to act upon.

For our own sake, we should always choose to face the consequences of our actions rather than do what is not pleasing to God. When we are faced with a dilemma, we should always ask ourselves "what would God have me do?" before we even plan our course of action. It is crucial that we do what is good and right rather than avoid being judged by those we love or being apprehensive of how they will treat us.


A Promise I Hope I'll be Able to Keep

It's been over 30 years since the most horrific days of my life. One day I will be reunited with my precious babies in heaven, but until then I hope to live the rest of my life with God's grace doing what is right and good in His eyes. I look forward to that joyful day when I will finally see God face to face and meet Gabrielle and Emmanuel for the very first time. May the Holy Spirit guide my every word and every action so that I will be worthy to enter the gates of heaven and be reunited with my unborn children.

I love you Gabrielle and Emmanuel! Please pray that mom and dad will be the best parents for your siblings and the best grandparents for your niece and your future nieces and nephews. Until we meet again...

Mari Cris
I have to face the awful reality that as a young girl and woman, I started to have abortions. Unfortunately this seemed to be a form of birth control. I didn't have much support or guidance in my life in fact it was truly an abusive situation. I have lived with this my whole life and will continue to beg God for forgiveness. I have been to the Church for Absolution and it has given me a sense of peace. The priest passed no judgement only peace. I praise God for this in the name of Jesus our Savior. I wasn't able to sleep much the night before my confession. I saw a quick vision in my head of Jesus standing beside me with his hand held out to me in a beautiful white robe. I felt his presence as he comforted my thought and fears. I knew that I could bravely confess my horrible mortal sins to God our creator. Also my mother passed away a week earlier and I was the one to take care of her as I am a nurse and semi retired. She died in my care. I promised her that I would go to confession. While at the Funeral, right before communion in the Church, I felt a warm sensation with a strong hold on my right shoulder as if I was being pushed in that spot. I immediately sensed my mother and knew in my heart that she was nudging me to go to confession. I now have a sense of forgiveness and I am grateful for my Catholic faith which has given me this right. I had the opportunity to give this to God and to be forgiven through the power of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen
Anonymous Jane, Maine
Going on a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat was the best gift ever. Prior to the retreat, I had suffered for 18 years in silence since I aborted my baby in 1996. At the retreat, I was able to discuss my story for the first time in a supportive environment with empathetic people without being judged. The healing that occurs over the weekend is nothing short of miraculous! I now know that my baby is in the best of hands-God’s-and I will meet up with my baby in heaven. I highly recommend a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat to anyone who has suffered from the aftermath of an abortion. God has the best gift ever in store for you.

Dear Planet,

I came to the retreat at the end of a very gentle awakening,at what had taken place in my life. I could write a book on the kindnesses of Jesus, but another day.

The retreat was the completion of a journey that i had been on, for a number of years.

It took me awhile to wake up to my reality because if i had had the understanding earlier of what had taken place towards my life, i do not think i would be celebrating writing today, really i am amazed that i am still here.

I have a spring in my step and a smile on my heart, not always on the outside, but on the inside, i am grinning.

I feel like i have crossed a finish line this beautiful ministry laid down for me, sometimes i walked it and sometimes i just listened, sometimes i cried and sometimes i laughed through it, but each session i grew.

NA Na Na Na Na that is for the grave i was in.

I have noticed i have a little attitude adjustment now, it says different things like Hmm no thanks, hold the condemnation and i'll pass on the guilt, and No i don't feel to do that right now and yes, i'd love to love my family more first.... some of the changes.

In many ways i feel alive for the first time, i am at peace,content with myself and other humans, we know who they are :) no more of that either, now i own my own stuff and as a bonus not theirs.

That may sound little on paper but if you could see the inside of my heart, you would see Yikes once, once, once, deep caverns filled with dead bones,(mine) that is how i feel to express it or this way works as well... "how about lost"

so lost that you wanted to fade into thin air,and disappear forever,n' ever, that was my true inner life, the one no-one really saw mostly me, and that boring, boring, grave.

Of course i did not really know that till after the retreat, thank goodness,and mercy.

But, but, but i used to use the word "but"often because it always represented my excuse to stay dead.

But:) now i love the word "But"

because its "BUT" with God's help i can do anything i want now, anything wonder-fully cos i am out of the shame.

Somehow now i know those places are filled with shiny hope, I can live now and all was put there by and through through Grace,

the healing i received, no mere man could have ever done,not ever, not a chance.

With God all things are possible.

It was an experience a living journey this retreat that brought an abundance of life.

I knew i was safe because i felt His unconditional love working through the team and i know He is love... and wanted me whole, way more than i could understand.

I inquired of Him one time, i asked Him what was wrong with me cos if you experienced abortion you get why i would ask, anyway...

He showed me in a dream once, what was wrong...cos i asked Him to.

In my dream i was in a hospital hallway, i was laying on my mutilated children,it was very real, almost ten years ago now.

I could see two men in white coats, i knew they were Doctors, they were deciding where they were going to go to lunch, i called out to them to help us.

They looked down at us, then back at one-another and finished deciding about lunch. As they walked down the hallway i called out to them, my arm was raised out towards them...

"But we're dying i called out and heard myself say "help us

they kept walking down the hallway, out to lunch i guess, pardon the pun.

I then laid back down, it was then that i saw i had only a torso ,i was not whole.

I believe Jesus was answering my prayer,i had asked Him to show me what was wrong with me,He did. I was not whole, yet it never clicked for years still.

Having abortions really hurt me and my life, my life with others as well.I believe i was being shown the results of what i was left with.

Jesus is my Hero, He makes all things new and He did.

I am walking on sunshine, it is healing and its time, about time, long overdue time. I was so tired.

it is starting to feel good, oh ya walking on sunshine.... i have wanted to sing and feel real joy for a very long time.

Forever in my heart these friends and they are now to me its this wondering kinda bond, that is not fluff,they are just so very kind,everyone i just know!!! brought more true wholeness to your heart, through their selfless love and the sacrifice of their hearts.

It is a team effort, mine included i worked hard to be honest and the way it is set up is productive, but i decided before i left i wanted my freedom and right from the first moment i was so safe, that it made me open like a butterfly in spring, a long winter over....

It is not scary or power tripping or uncomfortable, well maybe at times although we help one another through cos it is real and that comes with an effort on every ones part, but who wants lip service, boring.... it is just the kindest, most dedicated group coming together with one thing in mind our healing recovery, and it is something so heavenly, i am walking changed now.

Keeping it real is delightful, ha i have a voice and guess what, i like the sound it makes,and that is Extra, Extra she's alive.

From dead to life in two days, only Gods work, works.

Good news to me and all those around me i,m thinking.

But its not sit up straight in the pew kinda moments either, its just, love really.

I knew what the other story was and i was so tired of the grave, dead girl walking, has been and forever would have been had i not experienced real help.

I love what it has done in my life, i feel like Hmm brand new,hurt now healed.

Two times i heard Him say I forgive you, i needed that, even though in my head i knew i was, cos we are for everything, still stepping into it is another thing.

Only He knows... but i promise you that this is what i do know i am free ,so glad i went.

PS.... ignore the desire to jump ship, it is better to stay on board and enjoy the journey, the one you have always deserved, the one we all deserve, were in the safest hands, His.

Jesus loves us this we know for the Bible tells us so, little ones to Him belong for they are weak but He is strong. Sing this it helps , got me there.

God Bless everyone, Heidi

Heidi in Jerusalem
On my 15th birthday, I was almost three months pregnant. It mattered little to me that my father wanted me to have an abortion and vowed not to let me live under his roof once I started to show. After all, my boyfriend and I were in love and he said he wanted to marry me; that was all that mattered to me at the time. But this changed in weeks to come as my boyfriend had a change of heart and told me that he thought it was best that we didn’t marry. But what was not clear to me, was what he thought was best. In fact, no one in my life at that time, except my father, seemed to have an opinion of what was best.

I had a vague idea that there were alternatives to abortion but by then I felt that I didn’t have the strength, courage or heart to explore them. Nor was anyone else in my life encouraging me to do so. And my boyfriend for the most part was no longer in the picture. So with a broken heart, I listened to my father.

On the day of my abortion, it was my mother, not my father who took me. Looking back, I wonder what my mother thought. Did she think it was wrong? Did she ever regret not seeing her grandbaby? I will never know. But she was there with me silently carrying out my father’s wishes. At 15, I was oblivious to the moral and political controversy over abortion. And since we didn’t go to church, I didn’t hear what the church had to say either. And yet, intuitively I knew it was wrong. The last thing I remember that day was being on the abortion table before it took place crying out loud for my baby. Thinking about this now, I don’t know how that abortionist could have proceeded knowing that I obviously didn’t want to go through with it.

In my father’s view, my life should have gone on as if nothing ever happened. I tried to go back to school but wound up dropping out. Some other students, whom I didn’t even know, made it a point to tell me what a horrible thing I had done. At first I tried to defend my “choice” but I knew it was wrong. In fact, I felt overwhelmed with guilt and shame. Still life had to go on. And thank God it didn’t occur to me that my life didn’t have to go on because if it had occurred to me, I probably would have ended it then.

For the better part of 37 years, I did an excellent job of avoiding the subject of abortion; including my own. I believed that what I did was terribly wrong. I asked God for forgiveness and then left it at that. Any further examination was just too painful. Looking back over the years, I believe that my pain caused me to make many self-destructive decisions including decisions that prevented me from the joy of having and raising children.

About 30 years ago I started going to church regularly. And when the church teachings on abortion would come up, I would silently agree but never speak up. I felt that I had no right to say anything because of what I did. The beginning of the end for my long lived avoidance came one Sunday during mass. Abortion came up many times before from the pulpit, but this time was different. The priest actually said that if we voted for a pro-choice candidate, we would go to hell. Right or wrong; church teaching or not; was not the point for me. The point for me was that I needed to stop avoiding the subject of abortion. But how? I started with prayer. Daily I would (and still do), pray for an end to abortion, victims of abortion, and those in crisis pregnancies considering abortion. This and this alone went on for about two years.

Then, during another Sunday mass (different parish), the priest mentioned Rachel’s Vineyard. I remember thinking how nice it was that there was help for others but didn’t think it was for me since my abortion was so long ago. A couple of months later, my husband and I saw the movie Heaven is for Real. When the little boy met, in heaven, his older sister who had been lost in a miscarriage, it struck me like never before that my baby too was in heaven. And I grieved like never before for my own child. It was then that I knew I needed healing and had to find out more about Rachel’s Vineyard.

In Sept 2014, I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. The experience of the retreat caused me to feel as if I had been released from prison; a prison of isolation, guilt and shame. Through prayer, sharing, spiritual exercises and confession, I experienced God’s mercy and forgiveness move profoundly than ever before. But the healing hasn’t stopped there. Through Companions on the Journey, sharing with others continues to keep me out of isolation and encourages me to grow and help others as well. Perhaps the most precious gift I received from the retreat is that, for the first time in 40 years, I have a spiritual relationship with Noah, my aborted son. I never knew that this could be possible. And although I didn’t have this relationship for so long, it now seems impossible to imagine life without him. The amazing truth is that he has been there this whole time; in my pain, I just didn’t realize it. I am deeply grateful to God and to Project Rachel family for my healing and for the spiritual relationship I now have with my son. Thank you and God bless.

Your sister on the journey,


When I was 18 years old I graduated from high school with high honors and was admitted to a prestigious university, but a few weeks before my freshman year began I found out that I was pregnant. Giving up my lifelong goals and dreams to become a teenage mother and bringing that kind of shame to my family was not an option in my mind at that time, so I seriously struggled to choose between ending my baby's life or ending my own. My parents told me they would support me in whatever I decided to do, and ultimately I decided to terminate the pregnancy and then went away to college as planned. But no matter how hard I tried to put my past behind me, the guilt haunted me every single day after that.

I stopped attending church and became depressed and anxious and struggled academically for the first time in my life, and by the time I reached my late 20’s I began having frequent panic attacks for no apparent reason. Not long after I got married at the age of 30, friends started asking us when we were planning to start a family and my anxiety skyrocketed. My husband knew about my past but I didn’t know how to explain to him that having kids with him felt unfair to the child that I had given up so many years ago. We started attending a new church about a year after our wedding, and I remember sitting in the service on Mother’s Day weekend when all of the mothers in the congregation were asked to stand up for recognition while I sat in my seat trying to choke back the tears. Over the next few months I listened to message after message about God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness, yet I still felt like my sins were the unspeakable, unforgiveable kind and it drove a wedge between me and God. That was until one spring morning when an Easter message helped me realize that I had been suffering through this life that I had purchased with my sin rather than accepting a life full of grace that His son had already paid for. When I got home from church that afternoon I searched online for post-abortion help and came across the Rachel’s Vineyard website. I immediately signed up for the next retreat within driving distance. On that sacred weekend I finally found the peace and healing that I had been longing for over the past 15 years.

The following year I joined the team of leaders from my retreat site to facilitate their next annual retreat and I have helped facilitate more retreats since then. Every retreat is a safe and special time to reflect and connect with God and with other women who have shared similar experiences, and I find deeper healing at each retreat that I attend.

Grace in Chicago
yo y mi esposo vivimos el retiro del vinedo de raquel en noviembre del 11 de ano 2011. llegamos un viernes recuerdo ese dia que llegue con mucho miedo y verguenza pero las personas que me recibieron me esieron sentir como en casa fueron muy atentas,cuando empezo la primera dinamica fue algo impactante para nosotros Dios nos estaba sanando desde el primer momento.yo tuve miedo y quise irme en la noche del viernes el enemigo me estaba desanimando pero cai en un sueno Dios me mostro un jardin hermoso con ninos y uno de esos ninos era mi hijo que habia abortado. ese sueno fue algo muy bonito pude ver a mi hijo con flores jugando y yo lo estaba cargando. nunca imagine que la dinamica del sabado era asi como en mi sueno fue algo maravillosao entendi que Dios queria que me kedara en el retiro y asi fue me quede mi esposo y yo lloramos sanamos todo ese dolor que teniamos por anos y que no habiamos podido hablar sobre el aborto todo el viernes y sabado fue maravilloso el dia domingo experimentamos algo mas maravilloso Dios me dio la oportunidad de sentir dolores de parto de mi hijo fue algo hermoso pude tener mi encuentro con mi baby abortado pude experimentar el perdon de Dios y el perdo de mi baby. mi esposo y yo nos reconciliamos con nuestro hijo abortado lloramos su perdida y lo entregamos a los brazos de Dios. nosotros salimos sanado liberados de este retiro cuando termino la verdad nome queria ir jamas en mi vida habiamos experimentado tanta sanacion Dios ase tantos milagros en estos retiro que ahora estamos sirviendo y ayudando a los demas. nos enamoramos del retiro y queremos que las demas personas que han pasado por el trauma del aborto se enteren que hay un retiro especial para los babys abortados. y que Dios quiere sanarles sus corazones para que puedan vivir en paz con su vida Dios nos ama tanto que siempre esta dispuesto a perdonarnos por que nos Ama y dio su vida por nosotros. invito a los que tienen dudas de vivir este retiro que se animen a vivirlo jamas se arrepentiran. van a salir transformados y renovados como salimos nosotros. Dios le Bendiga y Mamita Maria los cubra con su Manto.
I am so grateful that I was able to attend a Rachel's Vineyard retreat. I did not have an abortion myself but my son's wife did. The retreat saved our relationship.

My grief over the abortion was complicated because a number of family members had forbidden me to ever speak of the abortion to anyone. Truthfully I'm not sure which friend I could have trusted to tell or how I would have begun that conversation.

For many years the grief and anger festered. I felt like a fraud every time I prayed the "Our Father" - every time I said "as we forgive those who trespass against us" I felt I was lying to God.

Finally the pain of not dealing with this matter became too much and I made arrangements to attend a Rachel's Vineyard retreat. It was January when I signed up but the retreat wasn't until May.

A few weeks before the retreat I had to fill out a questionnaire so the facilitators could get to know a little bit about me and this would help them to help me. I also had a phone interview with one of the facilitators and right then the healing began. I was finally able to talk about my experience freely. It was weird but extremely liberating!

Just before the retreat I began to get scared and have second thoughts about going. I even started having 'digestive troubles.' I was able to tell the group leader about this and she reassured me all these feelings were very normal. She assured me that I was being prayed for which was very comforting.

Finally the day arrived for the retreat to begin. I was still scared and worried the leaders might have us doing things that made us look silly or made us feel stupid. I made plans to be picked up by a friend the following morning if I didn't like what was going on. However, before the first 10 minutes of the retreat were over I knew I'd stay until the end because I had finally found a safe haven.

They fed us well (grief needs food!), they supplied us with endless boxes of tissues and the love they extended to us still brings tears of thankfulness to my eyes. Nobody was made to do or say anything that made them uncomfortable and I think everyone felt secure enough to unburden themselves.

There were times for the entire group to be together, there were times we split into smaller groups to reflect our unique situations, and there were times for much needed breaks away from everyone else.

At night we had our own little bedrooms. I remember being told the team had come early to make our beds and I was so touched by this gesture. We were so loved and so cared for. There was nothing that was not looked after. One of the team leaders was even tasked with running to the store to get us anything we needed, day or night, but they were so well prepared that nobody needed anything.

On Sunday we had the memorial service and it was beautiful. I was finally able to give my little grandchild the send off he deserved. After the service we celebrated Mass for the Catholic participants and after that there was a non-denominational service for those that were not Catholic.

As we gathered to say goodbye I felt sorry the weekend was over but I knew it was time to go into the world as a new person. It was hard to believe so much healing could occur over only 3 days. As I remarked to one of the team leaders - when we arrived on Friday it was like the first Good Friday - death and uncertainty and grief. By the time we left on Sunday afternoon it was like the first Easter morning - we had a new life, a better life!

As I waited to board the plane to go home I felt I had forgotten something. I felt a hollow place where the anger had been. I felt like I had been carrying a huge stone or weight with me for so long and now it was no longer a part of me. This feeling lasted for a few days until I got back into my routine at home. I kept waiting for the weight to return as the 'high' from the retreat faded away. It never came back.

Shortly after the retreat a situation came up with my son and his wife that could have degenerated into permanent estrangement from them. I give full credit to the Holy Spirit working in me through Rachel's Vineyard that I was able to salvage the relationship and start anew.

Rachel's Vineyard lets us know we do not need to suffer alone and that we do not need to suffer forever at the level that we have been. If your life has become unmanageable from the effects of abortion please contact Rachels's Vineyard. God bless you.

Grateful Grandmother
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