It may seem strange that the word grief is used when someone talks about the emotional pain after experiencing an abortion. This may be due, in part, to grief usually being synonymous with mourning the death of a loved one. According to Dr. William Shiel, the medical definition of grief is
The normal process of reacting to a loss. The loss may be physical (such as a death), social (such as divorce), or occupational (such as a job). Emotional reactions of grief can include anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness, and despair. Physical reactions of grief can include sleeping problems, changes in appetite, physical problems, or illness.
But, why would a woman experience grief after having had an abortion, especially when it was the woman’s decision to have it?
WHY DOES THIS OCCUR?
After the crisis pregnancy is over with and an abortion is obtained, a woman has time to think about what she went through. It is during this time of thinking about the experience that grief can begin. Typically, the grief will occur as her emotions start to surface related to the pregnancy and subsequent abortion. For example, a woman may have experienced a variety of emotions such as fear, excitement, and sadness about the pregnancy and, then, shame and guilt after she had the abortion. As she tries to make sense of these conflicting emotions and concludes that the abortion is a loss, grief can abound.
Additionally, if there was ambivalence when it came to deciding upon which option (parenting, abortion, or adoption) she wanted to do, grief can be experienced once she second-guesses her abortion decision. For example, she may think she could’ve parented the child and made it work financially, even without her boyfriend’s involvement.
HOW LONG WILL THIS LAST?
The duration of the grief can depend upon the woman’s response to dealing with the emotions related to the abortion. Typically, if the woman is open about her feelings, has supportive people around her, and talks to someone who can help her process through the grief, it may last a relatively shorter period of time. However, if the woman is unable to share her feelings due to wanting to keep it a secret, doesn’t have supportive people around her, and doesn’t pursue help, it may last a relatively longer period of time, even years.
It’s impact and intensity can vary. Author Vicki Harrison describes grief as “like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
If you can relate to feelings of grief and loss from one or multiple abortions and do not know where to turn for help, please contact Restore After Abortion at 630-599-0043. We can help you process through the often confusing emotions and come to a place of healing in your life.
Better Help. (2018, December). A Compilation of Grief Quotes to Uplift Your Sadness. Retrieved from: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/grief/a-compilation-of-grief-quotes-to-uplift-your-sadness/
Shiel, W.C., Jr. (2019, April). Medical Definition of Grief. Retrieved from: