In a 2016 book on post-abortion healing, young couple Mary and Tom shared their story of pregnancy and a traumatic abortion that left them both with deep pain and regret. The couple was unmarried when Mary became pregnant, and they decided to have an abortion. Mary wasn’t given any counseling at the abortion facility. She explained, “There was no explanation of the procedure, nor any time allowed for questions. I was instructed to lay on the table and to cover up with the sheet provided. That was the extent of my preparation for what was to come.” (p. 26)
Mary recalled that the abortionist never even said a word to her and that the sounds and pain of that day have stayed with her. “There was the sound of clanging metal, then a horrendous pain sliced through me, as though all my insides were being ripped from my body. I wasn’t given any anesthesia or pain medicine,” she said. “The pain was beyond anything I could have imagined. I never dreamt the procedure would feel as though I were being raped by metal instruments. It seemed to go on forever.” (pp. 26-27)
The abortion was traumatic, but Mary she said she tried to move on with her life:
[I] tried to resume life as though nothing had changed. But when I was alone, I couldn’t deny that something was very wrong. It felt as though I had just been sexually assaulted, only worse. The memory of both the physical and emotional pain never left me… No matter how hard I tried, the abortion was never far from my mind. (pp. 27-28)
Mary never expressed her grief about her abortion. She married Tom, and they suffered two miscarriages. She never grieved for those losses. “I never cried a single tear,” she said. “It was as though I were frozen. I couldn’t allow myself to feel the loss, let alone mourn for my babies. If I started, I may never be able to stop.”
Mary did everything to suppress her emotions and denied her post-abortion trauma.
Years later, Mary got a job in a high school. One of her students had a baby, but the child tragically died. Mary attended the funeral. Seeing the tiny coffin, Mary began to think about her abortion. She realized she needed healing, and asked Tom to attend a post-abortion retreat with her.
Tom had also been deeply impacted by the abortion. To him, it cast a shadow over everything, even their wedding day. He explained, “It was a beautiful ceremony, and I was thrilled Mary was finally my wife. But just like everything else, it was as though a darkness hung like a shroud over our day. I couldn’t escape the fact that our baby was missing.” (p. 58)
Many nights, he would wake up in tears from dreams of his lost baby:
I would lay in the dark, plagued with guilt and shame… I couldn’t escape the truth that we would probably have a child to love, instead of a child we missed desperately, if only Mary had known I would be there for both her and the baby. If I could have gone back in time and changed my decision, there would have been zero hesitation. (pp. 58-59)
When the couple’s son Jeremiah was born, Tom loved him deeply, but he explained, “Every time I saw Jeremiah, he was a reminder of the children we were missing – especially the one we aborted.”
When Mary asked to go on the healing retreat, Tom was surprised. He realized:
It seemed as though I had been grieving for our child from the moment we’d driven away from the clinic. But Mary had never shown a sign of distress. Yet as we talked, I began to see she’d been hiding from the pain – trying to push it away all those years. She had successfully hidden, even from herself, but deep down there had been an aching sadness. (pp. 64 – 65)
Tom resisted going to the retreat, but he finally agreed. At the retreat, parents were encouraged to write a letter to their aborted baby or babies. While reading the letter, Mary broke down sobbing. She said those were the first tears she’d cried, for any reason, in 27 years. Mourning for her baby, and acknowledging her loss, brought peace.
“Watching [Mary’s] grief shook me to the core,” said Tom. “In all the years I had known my wife I had never seen her shed a single tear. I’d always assumed Mary simply wasn’t the type who cried… Now, I saw my view had been very flawed. That she had been deeply wounded by the abortion, and my heart longed to comfort hers.” (p. 67)
He added, “The weekend became a catalyst for healing in both our lives.”
Tom and Mary named their aborted baby Sara Jean. Mary became the executive director of a pregnancy resource center, where she counsels post-abortive women and encourages other women who are considering abortion to choose life.
Source: Jenny A Farrell Ribbon of Redemption: True Stories Offering Hope & Healing After Abortion (Rock Island, Illinois: Testimonies of Hope Publishing, 2016)
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