A Guide to Emotional and Spiritual Resolution After an Abortion
Produced by PregnancyOptions.info, Co-authors Peg Johnston & Terry Sallas Merritt, ACP Board Members
Introduction: How To Use this Guide
Post abortion feelings and reactions are complex, and about more than just abortion.
We often say that a decision to end a pregnancy is complex. What do we mean by “complex?” We mean that there are many factors to consider, that there are many feelings, and that it affects other people. Lots to think about!
Sometimes it doesn’t take long to know what is right for our lives. Sometimes it’s a longer process and sometimes, a painful decision. If you feel like you need to heal emotionally or spiritually after an abortion, we have to separate all the factors that make up the complexity of the decision itself. Think of it as peeling away the layers of an onion—each layer reveals another. Ultimately, you will learn more about you and your life.
It’s pretty common to need help thinking through these things. This Guide can get you started. You may need someone to talk to—a trained counselor, a trusted clergy member, a close friend, a family member or your partner/spouse. There are also several online resources, help lines, and books that might be useful in your search for healing.
Healing does take work. First, it takes a desire to heal. Right now, you may feel ‘stuck’ and not moving forward with your life. You may feel fear or even panic. You may just need a little more understanding of your experience. These feelings are normal, but may need your attention. This Guide is designed to help you begin to find your voice. We want to help you get back to your life, and to those you care about and who care about you. Invest the time you need for yourself.
Loss or grief or depression can be associated with abortion, adoption, miscarriage, or childbirth for many women. For some it may be mild. For others it may be deep. Yet our society has no accepted way to get recognition for our feelings or to get support from others. You may even wonder if you have a right to be supported. After all, you may think, “It was my choice.”
If you are having any of these thoughts, this guide can be helpful. You will be working through exercises that help you take a moment to remember how you decided about your pregnancy. Can you have compassion for yourself and appreciate the love and care with which you have made this decision? You deserve understanding and comfort no matter what your choice.
This workbook is a starting place. You may work through these exercises and see that you are beginning to heal. You may need to seek more help through a professional. We have included a section on what this might be like and how to get started. We have also included some thoughts for those who might be helping you—clergy, counselor, or support people.
Some women have found it helpful to read through the whole workbook first and then go back and work through the exercises.
Other women prefer to progress one step at a time. As you do the exercises in this guide, you will find that some parts seem to be related directly to you, while others may not seem to connect with you at all. Everyone is different. Take what you need and leave the rest.
This workbook offers Personal Work Exercises that range in the time needed. Some may take about 20 minutes, others over an hour. Healing is a process. It takes time. We suggest you work through one exercise at a time and then return to the needs of your life. This can be good because sometimes things we’ve brought up and worked on take time to ‘settle in.’ You can keep coming back as you work your way toward resolution. We offer writing space, not just for the Exercises, but also for your own notes and thoughts. Some women find it helpful to keep a journal as they work through the workbook. Many keep a special box for thoughts, words that matter, notes and remembrances. You may want to design or paste pictures on your journal or box. You may want to keep these in a special place.
You may be working through emotional or spiritual issues, or both. People use many different names for their spirituality or faith . Throughout this workbook, you will see references to God, also known as a Higher Power, “The Divine,” Allah, Brahma, Creator, Holy Spirit, Greater Truth, Voice Within, Inner Light, Loving Spirit, Infinite Wisdom and more. When we use only one of these terms, please know we recognize and respect the many faiths and beliefs that guide and support us. Please make your writings in the exercises relate directly to your own religious or spiritual beliefs.
Our intention with this guide is to help you find your way back into your life. When we heal, we do come back into the world a little different. We bring with us some new insights about our life, our situation and our decisions.
View the workbook at PregnancyOptions.info