We have seen many married couples attend the weekend together. Some whose spouses participated in the abortion, and others who were not involved with a previous abortion, but who come as a support person. The results have been exceptionally positive and all report an increase in communication and intimacy after the weekend. There have also been individuals who decide to come with one or both of their parents, specifically if the parent forced their daughter to have an abortion or if the decision was made based on fears or disapproval.
Naturally, the damage to family relationships can be opened for healing in Rachel's Vineyard The weekend is a unique opportunity to address this pain and reconcile the experience with each other. So we gently encourage you to consider this option, but will always respect your unique circumstances if you decide this is not what is best for you. There will always be opportunities in the future to take this step if you are searching for additional healing and reconciliation.
During the Rachel's Vineyard weekend, we encounter healing through seeking re-connection, integration, and wholeness. Such healing can only happen when the isolation and secrecy are dismantled, and one's story is revealed to others who do not seek to judge and condemn. Only then is it finally possible, with the support of a small community of others who compassionately affirm the loss and respect the grief, to grieve one's losses to their fullness.
The importance of social support to the grief process reflects an important aspect of our human nature: Though we are individuals, we are inescapably social beings. The lack of social support will degrade or destroy our well-being. Conversely, the experience of social support, in even a single relationship, can strengthen our well-being.
For most of us, it is only when we have the support of others who will not judge or condemn us that we feel safe from social rejection. This support makes it easier for us to confront and explore the deepest part of our souls. With it, one learns how to accept forgiveness from God and one's aborted child. With it, one learns how to extend forgiveness to oneself and others. And with it, one discovers how the most difficult soul-breaking experiences imaginable can be used as the foundation for building a richer, deeper, and more meaningful existence.
Safety and confidentiality are essential when one begins to explore post abortion healing. However if the healing process encourages only private counsel, not involving spouses, or family in the process, this may actually reinforce the isolation that one experienced when they initially went away in secret to "deal with the problem."
So counseling itself can be surrounded with the same anxiety as going away in secret to have an abortion, because you are still going away alone to deal with the aftermath. Consequently, the secret is still intact and so is the shame and guilt surrounding it.
As long as one has the lingering doubt that if my parents, my spouse, my sister, etc., know about my abortion they would reject me, judge me, condemn me, or hurt me, one is not free to trust or experience the blessed intimacy of being known, unconditionally accepted, and loved. Frequently, we can only feel loved to the extent that others know us and accept us. Perhaps someone close to you might need to learn more about abortion trauma and some of the ways that this experience can impact a woman.
Forbidden Grief is a good resource for education on this subject.