Emotional Frequently Asked Questions
1. “What about feelings afterwards?”
There are many possible emotional responses after an abortion. Remember, all feelings are normal. Often the first reaction is relief that the crisis of this situation is over. But it is not unusual to also have feelings of sadness, guilt, anger, or feeling “bad.” Assuming this was a mutual decision together, you can both try to remember the reasons you chose not to continue the pregnancy. Remind yourselves that you are good people who made the best decision you could for your lives. As time goes on, most people experience more relief and less sadness. This is a perfect time to be good listeners. If either of you is not coping well after an abortion, get someone to talk to. Learn about practices for healthy coping.
2. “What are the warning signs of poor emotional coping?”
If either of you is having sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, or an inability to concentrate, it could be a sign of trouble coping. If either of you feel sadness or guilt that is not going away, or if you are continuing to worry if you did the right thing, call your provider to see if they offer or can refer for post abortion counseling. Check out these resources.
3. “What if we are not feeling the same thing?”
Abortion can be a difficult issue in a relationship. The two of you might have different feelings about the decision. You might not be in agreement. Feelings of hurt can last a long time, shaking the foundation of the relationship. Some men feel as though the decision is a reflection on them, the relationship is in jeopardy, or that they are not a good provider. Or, if your partner is having an easier time with the abortion, you might feel that they do not care about you or understand your perspective. The best way to handle this is to keep talking with one another, and keep listening too, so that each of you hears how the other is feeling. Resources such as Healthy Coping After an Abortion or A Guide to Emotional and Spiritual Resolution After an Abortion or Peace After Abortion might be helpful for both of you.
4. “My partner is acting like it’s all my fault that we got pregnant, but I never forced my opinion about what we should do. I don’t want to lose our relationship, but we argue all the time.”
What you are experiencing is not unusual. In a very stressful situation many people have so many confusing feelings going on that they kind of shut down for a while. Sometimes it takes the form of withdrawing into themselves, sometimes being angry or irritable. The best advice is to be supportive, but also honest and truthful. Try to say how your partner’s words and actions make you feel. Exchange what both of you are feeling; re-affirm your love; but also talk about your frustrations. Encourage each other to be honest. Better to let each other in on thoughts and feelings rather than push each other away.
5. “I thought we were in agreement that the abortion was the best thing to do because we could not provide for another child now in our life. But now that it’s over, my partner keeps crying and wishing for the baby. I still think it was for the best. What can I do?”
Your situation is really difficult. You thought you were making a decision together, but now it seems as though you are left with the “blame” for something you thought you both decided together. Or perhaps they thought it was for the best at the time, but has now changed their mind. Or perhaps they did not think it through at all, and is really mad for not doing so and taking it out on you.
But how are you to know if it is any of the above or something entirely different? The truth is that you cannot know unless they will tell you. There is even a chance that they do not know what is going on, only that they are in a state of deep sadness. They may feel a sense of loss about the abortion. They may be having a hard time that you and they chose this loss. Experiencing a loss can open up old losses from the past that can get all mixed up with the pregnancy loss. So keep the option of professional help open if possible, or go yourself if you can’t sort it all out and want to work on the relationship.