STAGES OF HEALING

Closing Issues

Closures can begin when grief-work has been fairly well completed. There will certainly be times in your future when other feelings of anger will flash back. There will be times when other abortion connectors may surface. These can be expected, but they will lessen in frequency, lessen in duration, and be lesser in intensity. You are coming through some real dark times… things won’t be this dark again, not if you are working this through fully and completely.

Closures are important. There have been no closures in your abortion experience. There are many loose ends as you well know! You need closure in the following areas:

  • Closure with God
  • Closure with Self
  • Closure with the Aborted Baby
  • Closure with Others.

Closure with God

Inside every one of us is a mental picture of God based on the following:

  • Our Biblical knowledge of Him
  • Our Experiences of Him
  • How we have been affected by our life experiences.

Even though you may intellectually understand that you can be forgiven, you may have trouble believing it with your heart….really believing it! To come to a place of closure with God regarding your abortion experience, you will need to see your painful past in the light of a deeper reality of God’s love for you that includes not only forgiveness, but also restoration and the wholeness for which you are longing. Do you understand the Gospel message of salvation and forgiveness? The Good News of the Gospel is not too good to be true….it IS the Truth! “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Distorted concepts of God may have clouded your thinking. Begin to develop a personal relationship with God. Read a daily devotional. Read the Bible daily. Go on a God-hunt—look for God at work in your life each day. Begin to pray. Watch for His answers. If you are not already a part of a church, begin to attend one. Attend Sunday School as well as the church services, so you can ask questions and become more familiar with the truth of God’s Word, the Bible.

Write a letter to God expressing your grief and your need of forgiveness. Ask for His mercy. Ask Him into your heart so that you might know Him in a personal way and reap the fruit of His salvation.

Healing Stage 2

Closure with Self

One of the hardest things you will face in post-abortion grieving is to forgive yourself. The reason for this is that you tend to “measure” the severity of your sin with the amount of forgiveness that you think you should be able to receive. When a sin you commit is a small one (i.e. a “little white lie”), you usually don’t have any trouble believing that God can and does forgive. These sins are usually repairable, so you feel hopeful that God forgives you completely, and you no longer carry these sins upon your shoulders. But, if the sin you take part in is a big one, and can’t be undone (abortion) it is much harder to let yourself off the hook. That is why you are holding unforgiveness toward yourself. When you continue to hold unforgiveness toward yourself, your behavior will show it. Here’s what can happen.

  • You will continue in self-punishing behaviors.
  • You will have bouts of depression.
  • You will replay guilt tapes over and over in your mind.
  • You will build walls around yourself.
  • You will continue to doubt God’s love for you.
  • Instead of taking God at His word, you will wonder-when bad things happen- if that was God punishing you again for the abortion!
  • You will keep “paying a debt,” trying to work off your guilt by doing lots of good things to help you feel better about yourself.

What you need to understand is this:

No one can merit God’s forgiveness, or self-forgiveness–it is not something you can earn. It was earned for you by Jesus death on the Cross. Think about it this way. If I had a measuring cup in my hand, just how much do you think you would have to do to fill it with good works and clean living before you would be able to say ‘the cup is filled, now I can forgive myself for my abortion?’ You have been trying to fill this measuring cup for quite some time and haven’t filled it yet, have you?

Self-forgiveness begins with coming to a personal heart-filled knowledge of God and of His forgiveness of you!
It’s really all one step all taken care of at the Cross, two thousand years ago. Once you have accepted God’s forgiveness, there is no second step of trying somehow to forgive yourself because it just can’t be done by anything YOU do. Once you are forgiven by God, you need to replace your unforgiveness toward yourself with the truth of God’s Word again. Nowhere does God see you as useless, a failure, unlovable, or undeserving of His love. Once you have repented and are trusting in the shed blood of His Son, God sees you as clean, forgiven, and restored in Him. Once you realize this, then it is time to walk in His mercy and grace as a child of God. He is not withholding anything from you…He loves you. The person God has planned for you to be is now emerging. Let go of unforgiveness toward yourself because that only cancels the work of the Cross!

Healing Stage 3

Closure With The Aborted Baby:

Over the weeks that you have been working through your grief, you no doubt recognized that you have very strong maternal feelings for your aborted baby. These feelings were shut down and denied before the abortion and have since surfaced. What you are experiencing is “a mother’s love (father’s love) with no place to go!” Society told you that abortion was nothing and that you’d be fine. But you know now, that isn’t true.

Step One of Closure With The Baby

In order for closure to be complete, you will first need to say “hello” to your baby before you will be able to say “good-bye.” You may have tried in the past to say good-bye, or to “give your baby to the Lord,” only to keep hanging on or only to discover you are still having dreams about your baby and you haven’t known what to do. An emptiness still remains along with a heavy sadness that hangs in your heart.

Let’s go back to the time when you first found out you were pregnant with that baby. Get your notebook out again and answer these questions:

  •  Do you remember bonding with your little one before the abortion?
  •  What did you feel?
  •  What did you think about?
  •  What feelings did you have to “stuff?”
  •  Were you excited to be pregnant only to find out that others around you were not excited or supportive of you?
  •  How did you begin to block out your pregnancy? (Did you mentally block out the term “baby?” Perhaps you began to think about abortion as a “procedure” rather than the termination of the life of your baby).
  •  Perhaps you didn’t even think about “baby” until it was over—then it hit you and you had to block it.
  •  For men, it is after the abortion that the realization suddenly hits you. (i.e. “She is pregnant with my child and when she comes out of the clinic, it is my child that will be gone.)
  •  What did you think about after the abortion, while still in the procedure room, while leaving the clinic, while going home? What “baby thoughts” were there?
  •  Did you perhaps talk to your aborted baby at all in the early weeks of pregnancy asking forgiveness for what you thought you had to do?

This is a part of the bonding that was taking place even when abortion plans were in the making or immediately afterward. It is unusual not to bond. Your mind, your inner person was trying to bond with this new life, even while you were shutting down and not allowing the feelings to surface. Women, in particular, have to shut down feelings and emotions in order to abort. The first step in saying “hello” is to recognize and acknowledge the child that was within you. Let this recognition be a bond for you now. This is very important.

One post-abortive friend said to me, “I have to make my baby real. No one will allow me to make my baby real. They keep telling me to get over it. But I can’t. I have to admit to myself that my baby had worth, and was real. If my baby’s life meant nothing, then my life means nothing …I have no worth either, and nothing makes any sense!” She is exactly right! Every human being has worth and it is healing to acknowledge the worth of your baby, even now.

Step Two of Closure With The Baby:

Do you have any sense that your baby was a girl or a boy? Many women do…they just know! Others have dreams in which they see a baby or small child and can tell in the dream if it is a boy or girl–and they have a sense that this is the sex of their baby.

If you feel that you know the sex of your child, then your next step is to give the baby a name. If you don’t know the sex of your child, then give the baby a name that could be for either a boy or girl, such as Robin, Chris, etc. By giving your baby a name, you are saying “hello.” But more than that, by giving your baby a name, you are giving him/her the dignity of human worth.

Step Three of Closure With The Baby:

Now that your baby has a name, it is time to write a letter to him/her. Yes, really! Think about all the things you would like to say to this child. How much you regret your abortion, etc. This letter is not only “for your baby”; it is for you to help you sort through all the grief you have been carrying and to say those things to your baby that you wish you could say. Write what is on your heart to say. If you are having trouble getting started, these are some things you might want to include in this letter:

  • How you felt when you first suspected you were pregnant. Did you start to bond with your baby only to discover others were pressuring you to abort? Then let your baby know that. Speak from the heart…write out what you were feeling.
  •  Were you scared or so wrapped up in your crisis that you shut down very quickly? Explain that in your letter and then explain how you feel now.
  •  Talk about your feelings about the abortion, then and now.
  •  Apologize to your baby; ask your baby’s forgiveness.
  •  Tell baby what hopes and dreams you may have had for him/her.
  •  Say “I love you.”
  •  Complete this sentence: “When I see you in heaven, I want to……”

Step Four of Closure With The Baby:

Make up a baby remembrance folder. Decorate it however you would like. In this folder might go the following:

  •  The letter you have just written to your child.
  •  A poem or words to a song that you may have found that gives you comfort.
  •  Scripture that has touched your heart as you read God’s Word.
  •  Your journal book.
  •  Write down things people have said to you that have helped you….their words of asking your forgiveness for their part in the abortion, words of comfort from a close friend who has listened to you and felt your pain, etc.

Step Five: Suggested Final Good-byes For Closure

  • Attend a church service, communion service, even a memorial service for someone else, and use that time to silently say good-by to your baby, and at that time, give your baby to God. No one else needs to know what is in your heart.
  •  You may choose to give a monetary gift to a church of your choice as an unspoken memorial in the baby’s name. No one needs to know the relationship of the name you give.
  •  You may choose to designate a portion of your church offering to a specific ministry within the church ( i.e. church nursery, youth group, mission outreach, etc.) as an unspoken memorial. If you are given a thank you card or letter for your gift, you may want to put this remembrance into your baby remembrance folder.
  •  You may want instead to give a donation to a specific charity as a memorial…spoken or unspoken in your baby’s name.
  •  You may want to offer your time/talents toward a specific charity/or non-profit organization for a short period of time as an “active memorial gift.”
  • You may wish to donate your time to your local pregnancy helpline center. They are always in need of office help, help with mailings, help with their layette and clothing distribution, filing, computer data entries, etc. In this way, you are “putting back into the community” something of yourself that is unselfish in nature. This will be a help to you in your healing process.

Please understand, these activities are not to “pay a debt” for your abortion as you may have done in the past. These are healthy ways to say good-bye as one would do at the death of any other family member. And by giving of yourself, it is a way to begin to set a new course for your life that is unselfish in nature, allowing your values of integrity to again rise to the surface.

Healing Stage 4

Closure (Reconciliation) With Others

Are you struggling with forgiveness issues toward others? This is understandable as your hurt has been a deep one. Forgiveness toward others is a part of closure. I think that sometimes we have trouble forgiving, because we really don’t understand what forgiveness is, and what it isn’t. So let’s look at some things about forgiveness first, and what it involves.

  • Forgiveness doesn’t mean another is right or wrong—it certainly isn’t an indication of anyone’s innocence in the matter!
  • Forgiveness isn’t about letting the other person off the hook—it is about pulling the knife out of your own gut, freeing yourself from the pain you feel, the same pain that the other person probably doesn’t feel, even though you wish they would!!!
  • Forgiveness deals with your pain, not another’s behavior. You cannot control another’s behavior.
  • Forgiveness is not trying to forget; it is the experience of healing that drains poison from your emotional wounds
  •  Forgiveness doesn’t mean to stuff all your hurt and give in, it means to let go. Once you forgive, you are no longer emotionally tied to the person(s) who hurt you.
  • Bitterness/resentment/anger/unforgiveness blocks wholeness and healing. The one who remains unforgiving is the one who always loses in the end.
  • It doesn’t matter whether someone is deserving of your forgiveness; it does matter that you no longer carry all the emotional baggage that has weighed you down
  • Forgiveness is an act of your will. Feelings of forgiveness may not come until much later in some cases. It’s your will that is important right now. Do not put yourself on someone else’s level. Rise above that…you are worth it!
  •  Forgiveness involves asking God to change your heart and heal it.
  • Recognize that total forgiveness has been offered you through Jesus Christ. Your own debt has been paid. Once you understand this truth for yourself, you will be able to move forward in the process of forgiveness toward others.

In this case where reconciliation is not possible, it may help tp journal an anger letter expressing your feelings in writing. Please do not send this letter. Writing out what you feel is one way of releasing the hurt you carry. As you begin to write, you may be surprised at what all flows out of your heart; some find they are angry with many people, including themselves! If you are able, you may want to add a few sentences about any willingness to forgive this person. Remember, forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. It allows God to heal bitterness, shame, and much more.

You Will Know When Forgiveness Has Really Taken Hold In Your Life When You Experience These Feelings:

  • You see things from a new perspective.
  • Heartaches are exchanged for feelings of concern for others who have no understanding and continue in unhealthy behaviors towards you and others.
  •  You can let go and not feel like you have to control another person or their feelings.
  • Resentment and bitterness toward others no longer occupies your thoughts and actions.

Unsettling Flashbacks Or Reminders - Abortion Connectors:

The woman or man who has had an abortion may come across situations, events, sights, sounds, or other connectors, that consciously or subconsciously remind them of their abortion(s). Some examples of abortion connectors might be the sound of a vacuum cleaner, sights and sounds within any medical clinic, the inability to attend baby showers, pregnancy due dates or other 'anniversay reactions' connected to your abortion.

These connectors with their resulting flashbacks may bring on a swift emotional response such as anger, anxiety, tension, or a feeling of wanting to flee from the area or the situation. These connectors may also induce physical reactions such as abdominal cramping, headaches, tightness in chest or stomach, feeling "weak in the knees", etc.

You may have recognized some of your own connectors since your abortion;
Whenever you find yourself displaying strong emotion, or physically reacting to a situation, sight, or sound, take note that this may be another abortion connector for you.

The more you recognize the abortion connectors in your life
and learn how to respond differently if possible, the sooner the abortion connector will lose it’s influence and power over your life.

You may want to list the connectors you’ve recognized, and decide what you can do differently when these bothersome situations arise.

Use the link below for information about Rachel’s Vineyard, an organization that holds retreats for anyone suffering from Post Abortion Syndrome:

Rachel’s Vineyard Link


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