“I feel like I’m in a grief pit with no way out and no one to talk to,” the grandparent of an aborted child painfully outlined. “I don’t even have a right to say I’m a grandmother.”
Grandparent post-abortion pain is similar to that of the post-abortive person. It includes, but is not limited to:
Emotions can be delayed or fresh and intense. There is no reason for this pain – especially in the heart of a grandparent.
The role a grandparent played in the abortion decision often impacts their level of secondary post-abortion pain and guilt. Four common roles include:
- Protector – In the Protector role, grandparents don’t want the child aborted and actively work to encourage a life decision.
- Not involved – These grandparents often have no idea about the pregnancy, and discover the loss after the fact.
- Neutral – Neutral grandparents knew about the unexpected pregnancy but did not propose or encourage the abortion decision. They refused to participate in the choice, allowing the decision to be made solely by the mother/father.
- Enforcer – Enforcer grandparent pressure, coerce or encourage their son or daughter into an abortion decision. The pregnant couple then feels abortion is their only option.
Grandparent pain can vary between parents of the mother versus the father. Parents of the pregnant women know the child is their family member. The man’s parents have no proof whether the unborn child belongs to their son or another man, which complicates the grieving process.
Abortion can have a generational impact, depending on the level of healing gained. If a post-abortive grandparent believes abortion was good for their lives, they can actively push their own children into an abortion clinic. Those that regret their abortion often encourage life decisions.
Blame-shifting is also part of the grandparent pain process. My child’s paternal grandparents didn’t know their son had pushed me to abort. When my mother discovered my abortion, she called them and shared this truth in a harsh manner. Later she justified the call saying, “Your abortion was their fault more than mine!”
Unhealthy emotions can be difficult for a grieving grandparent to process. Thankfully, there is no pain that God cannot heal. Here are five ways to begin healing grandparent post-abortion pain:
Identify Your Feelings
Feelings can betray us. They often determine how our spiritual life is advancing or retreating. While no one can change an abortion decision once the child is gone, we can change our attitude and how we view those involved.
God can help you change bad attitudes and feelings, replacing them with grace, mercy, empathy, love and compassion.
Ephesians 4:22 outlines, And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
If we want to find God’s healing, forgiveness must occur for those involved in the abortion decision. Someone once said, “Holding onto bitterness, anger and unforgiveness is like drinking poison, hoping the other person will die.”
Before asking deep questions of post-abortive people, make sure your spirit towards them is forgiving and not condemning.
Discover What Happened
While asking questions of post-abortive people may be difficult and take time, it can lead to a deeper understanding of what happened. It can also be some relief for the post-abortive person to share this story at last.
Piecing together the broken abortion story can clear up misunderstandings. Even when facts are missing, some basic conclusions can be drawn. Ask God to help you in asking good questions and processing this information in a healthy manner.
Depending on their role in the abortion decision, grandparents often experience true guilt. For the parent who gave their child no choice but abortion, they bear a large part of the guilt in the grandchild’s death. The guilt dynamic changes based on the role they played in the abortion decision. If you are responsible in any way, confess that sin and seek God’s forgiveness.
Grandparents can be so wrapped up in the pain that they cannot grieve. Grandparent post-abortion pain can feel comfortable and righteous in the middle of anger, rationalizing and blaming.
When grandparents experience post-abortion grief as a couple, one can stifle their emotions while the other openly weeps in pain.
Embracing grief can begin by developing a memorial for the lost child. A memorial gives dignity and importance to the unborn child and provides closure.
Memorials allow the focus to shift from the hurting person to the missing person, giving relief to grief. Memorials can be as simple as planting a memorial tree or bush or something creative like writing a poem or releasing a balloon.