Men and Abortion, Grief and Healing
by Wayne F. Brauning, M. Div., D. Min.
I have a friend whose father disappeared in Mexico. The loss has been more painful for him than if his father had died in his arms. How can one grieve for a father who has simply disappeared? For that matter, how can one grieve for a child who has simply “vanished?”
Fathers and mothers of aborted children are like my friend. Each must struggle with how to grieve the loss of a person who “disappeared” from their lives. The fact is this person, who truly did exist and touched their lives — with longings, memories of fear or joy, visual images, bodily sensations, and dreams of what could be — is now gone.
The lives of aborted children touch people in different ways, but no one is untouched. One woman, who did not want the abortion, began to lactate. Her motherly instincts were stirred. She continues to wish that this baby, who would now be grown, were sitting at her table. Her husband, eighteen years later, still grieves over the fact that he did not fulfill his role as the protector of his unborn child.
Every man and woman of an aborted child knows the truth. Their children are gone forever and cannot be brought back or replaced. There will always be a void in their lives–a void made more painful by memories, and regrets, and dreams of what their child might have been.
Grieving for an aborted baby is different from the loss of any other loved one. Abortion is not part of any natural process like miscarriage. It is not a mysterious disappearance. It is the deliberate act of taking the life of a defenseless person.
Participating in an abortion always produces real guilt before God in the person who is responsible for the decision to take the life of the child. Men have told me that they knew they were guilty of getting the woman pregnant, of pressuring her to get an abortion, or of not coming to the rescue of the child.
Abortion also produces anger–anger at oneself for participating in the abortion, anger at others for putting on the pressure, anger at the circumstances, or anger at God for permitting it to happen in the first place. When a woman decides to abort against the desires of her child’s father, the man has no legal power to protect his child. It is common for such a man to be filled with rage at the mother and others who destroyed his child.
Genuine grieving cannot happen while guilt or anger dominates our hearts. Before the grieving can begin, you must handle your personal guilt before God and others and your anger toward the persons who made the decision and toward the circumstances in which it was made.
God alone can lift the dreadful monster of guilt for participating in an abortion. In Jesus Christ, who died for sinners, God says to those who are guilty: “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Put yourself into His hands and through His forgiveness of your sins, He will begin to heal you so that you can find ways to make restitution for this sin. Then a genuine peace will begin to fill your heart.
Jesus is also the solution to anger. Once He enters your heart, He will begin to transform your anger so that you can generously forgive others, as He does, and rebuild relationships with those you want to love.
Genuine grieving can now begin. First, you will grieve for the little person, whose potential you will never see fulfilled, who will never have a chance to frolic in the snow or sun or blow out her birthday candles. (An appropriate memorial service can help you begin this lifelong process of letting her go.) Then you will grieve for yourself, that your baby will never hug you, never learn the Lord’s Prayer from your lips, never grow up and send you birthday cards. You will also grieve for your loved ones: your parents who will not know their grandchild, your other children who will miss the companionship of their sibling, and for the Church which is missing one person whose gifts could have been used for God’s great works.
Grieve my friend, grieve! Don’t hold back. The reason for this sorrow is genuine and profound. Don’t try to explain it away by analyzing it. Simply let it out. And do not be afraid to share your burden with a Christian brother. You will grieve over and over again, but after a time, your walk with Christ will allow you to “cast your burden on Him and He will sustain you.”
Go in His peace, carrying it as a pearl of great price to someone else who is suffering so they too may find rest in Him, and in His peace, become free to serve!
Dr. Wayne Brauning is the founder of Men’s Abortion ReCovery (MARC). Additional resources covering this subject are available by writing Dr. Brauning at 237 S. 13th Avenue, Coatsville, PA 19320, (610) 384-3210. Copyright 1996 Wayne Brauning.
Published in The Post-Abortion Review 4(4) Fall 1996.