I found myself crying all night. My eyes were sealed shut with mucus the next morning due to the extent of my tears.
The third week in March was always a bad week for me after my abortion in 1981. Without knowing anything about Abortion PTSD, I never connected any of those difficult weeks to my choice.
The actual week my aborted baby would have been born, a friend had betrayed me the day before but that was NOT sufficient reason for such a deep mourning. As I applied a hot washcloth to my eyes, I began to believe I was losing my mind due to some unknown reason.
I never thought that my tears that morning had anything to do with my abortion. I wouldn’t let myself even consider that possibility. I chalked my mourning up to depression. I believe my heart knew the truth but my mind was dedicated to forgetting my abortion experience.
Eleven years later, I recalled that morning moment when first reading the symptoms of Abortion PTSD relating to “abortion anniversary pain.” My mind had not connected my baby’s due date to the crying session. It was a relief to know that those moments of deep depression had an explanation. With that realization, many other heartbreaking March moments over the years started to come to mind. Quickly I realized the impact of this unknown anniversary on my life.
Abortion anniversary pain can be focused on the date of the abortion or the due date of the aborted child. Each year when these dates resurface, unknown sorrow can result. Many times there is relief in understanding that this haunting pain has a source. If you know the source of your pain, it’s easier to find a way to heal it.
Some call this looming pain “haunting.” The “presence” of a lost child may be on the edge of a person’s conscience, like any other family member who has passed away. Being paralyzed in the midst of this abortion anniversary pain means that one may not freely be open to loving and experiencing all that God has to offer their heart.
When understanding that a child was lost through their choice, the pain of an abortion anniversary may arguably be the worst form of self-torture existing in the world. It represents one of the few forms of “true guilt.” Embracing this abortion anniversary pain can seem out of the question due to the individual’s current circumstances (i.e., going through other stressful events such as a divorce, move, etc.). Many women simply fear that in addressing this pain directly, they could be pushed towards suicidal tendencies. This hurt easily becomes all-consuming and impossible to confront.
Over my years of talking with thousands of post-abortive people, a typical comment is, “How can I even consider looking at this pain square in the face?” Interesting enough, most face this pain every day. They just don’t realize the abortion connection.
Once a woman realizes her incredible loss, milestone marks that would have occurred in the aborted child’s life can also be painful. If the woman has living children, even their son or daughter’s smile and loving words can remind them of their missing one in heaven. Sorrow can be stirred in simply meeting an individual who is the same age as the woman’s aborted child.
Little League games can remind us that we missed many games that our aborted children could have played in. High school graduation ceremonies around the year the aborted child would have reached that milestone can trigger sorrow as well. The world is full of “reminders” as the years roll on.
I remember the point in 2004 when I understood that my aborted child was old enough to have married and perhaps given me grandchildren. While I had worked through most of my healing, the concept of missing a second generation of close family members threw me into a new grief. With each tear shed, God drew me closer to His grace and mercy, helping me cope with the ongoing grief. You don’t get over grief… you get through it.
If you are at the beginning stages of understanding the depth of your pregnancy loss pain due to an abortion decision, know there is help available. Abortion recovery programs are ready to help you at an individual level to understand the triggers and find God’s amazing healing.
Should you have someone in your life who is beginning to understand their loss through an abortion decision, encourage them to open their heart and ask God to reveal to them the source of their pain. Help them understand that God’s touch will protect them from more than they can handle. His caring and gentle nature, communicated through the Holy Spirit, can encompass them as they open the files of their mind to these memories.