Men and Abortion, Grief and Healing

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.

More articles on Men and Abortion:

Book Review of Men and Abortion: A Path to Healing

Restoring Fatherhood Lost

Just Let Her Know You Love Her – A Poem

Forgotten Fathers and Their Unforgettable Children

Men And Abortion

My Darlings: An Autobiographical Essay

Men and Abortion, Grief and Healing





Men and Abortion, Grief and Healing — 8 Comments

  1. I fought it. I begged her not to. I refused to pay, and I stayed with her right up until it happened. I tried to involve our parents, and her siblings. I feel like I did everything I could, all while she tried, at every step, to cut me out.

    It’s been a month now. I’m having dreams about our daughter, and about her and I. I’d call them nightmares, but they don’t feel like nightmares until I wake up.

    It’s not that I wanted a baby, I was scared as hell when we found out, but I loved her. I knew what it would do to her, and to us.

    Now she can’t look at me. I don’t know what to do to heal. If I don’t drink, I dream, but the drinking is becoming a problem. I’ve already lost my job.

    I wish this hadn’t happened.

    • Dear Rob,

      You did all that you could. I’m so sorry that she didn’t listen and for all that you, and she, are going through now.

      Obviously, you can’t change the past. But you can learn and heal from it. Please call one of the post-abortion help lines on our resources page. You need someone you can talk to . . . more than once, to help with the process of grieving and recovery. I know that the Project Rachel weekends often include many men.

      Concentrate on your own healing . . . especially so you will be in a stronger place if and when she will ever let you help her with her healing.

      It’s such a fresh wound, I know it is hard to imagine ever getting past it. But in truth, you don’t really “get past it,” but rather it settles into a place in your heart where you can draw understanding, compassion and even strength to help yourself and others in the future.

      You are in our prayers, Rob. Don’t give into despair. You are on the right track, reaching out for help. Please call a hotline and use the resource list to find a program near you.

  2. Well said Paul,

    I’m guilty for paying for an abortion about 25 years ago as well. In the early years after this regretful event it didn’t seem to weigh on my conscience. I was passive and didn’t do enough to protect the unborn child. The mother wanted to have the abortion and I just went along with whatever she wanted. “After all, it’s the law of the land right! It’s a legal procedure, how can it be a bad thing?” I asked myself.

    As the years past I moved on and married a wonderful woman that helped me return to my Christian up bringing. She had one Son from a previous marriage. I’ve tried to be a good step-father, sending the young man off to college, paying for everything, treating him like I would my own biological child. But nothing can replace what I’ve lost. I’ll never know what it’s like to have a little girl or boy jump up in my lap and say, “I love you Daddy!!”. With that said, I look at being a good step-father as a way to pay restitution for my former mistakes.

    I’ve accepted the consequences for my life decisions and hope people will learn from my mistakes and make the right decision to protect the unborn. I’ve asked Jesus to forgive me of my transgressions and accepted the free gift of eternal life with him. It’s hard to comprehend how the Lord is capable of forgiving so much sin in this World. I don’t deserve his forgiveness, but I certainly want it. I’m so thankful he’s a loving, kind, and gracious God.

  3. You sound like a good man but I didn’t stop the abortion. I dont deserve forgiveness. I’ve killed my own unborn baby. I grieve all the time but I don’t want pity, even from god. I don’t deserve it- I’m a murderer now.
    The only one who deserves gods pity is my unborn child who we killed.
    I put a brave face on to my wife but secretly I hate myself.
    Unlike her I know that at 9 weeks pregnant, the baby was a living person. And we killed the defenceless little one.
    What have I done…

    • Your are only partially right. Yes, you don’t “deserve” forgiveness. No, one does. But God offers forgiveness as a gift, not because we deserve it but because He loves us so much He WANTS us to be reconciled to Him.

      This is the great mystery. And it is a great temptation to reject His forgiveness because you don’t “deserve” forgiveness. As long as you are trapped with that mentality, you are being held back from becoming the transformed, better, new person that God wants to make you into.

      Through your repentance, and most importantly your humility in accepting God’s forgiveness, you will become a channel and champion of His mercy and forgiveness to others.

      Here is the great mystery. Christ came to reconcile us to God and claim us as His brothers and sisters. Because of our sins, we are all guilty of His death on the cross. At the same time, because of our sins we have need for His mercy, love and sacrifice.

      To refuse the gift of forgiveness is just as bad . . . indeed, worse than the sin of refusing the gift of a new born baby life. You refused that gift of life. Do not add to your sin by refusing the gift of a new spiritual life in Christ. By accepting this second gift, you will allow God to transform you life and to user your past…including your sinful past…as the stuff from which He can touch and transform and help the lives of people you meet, and love, and live with everyday.

      You are right to grieve. But allow God to turn that grief into an energy, desire, and unshakable commitment to help others and a hope to be reunited with your child in heaven.

      God isn’t offering you pity. He’s offering you a life transforming experience, not only for you but for other people who will witness how He has transformed you.

      You are in our prayers.

    • Andrew,

      Thank you for being open to sharing your comment, experience & pain.

      It makes sense to me, your statement about not deserving forgiveness.

      For me this statement is about justice – getting what we deserve.

      I too am guilty of paying for an abortion over 25 years ago.

      In my case I was too passive at the time to speak up so memories, guilt, shame anger & rage have been some of my long term consequences.

      Today though while I know that as it says in the bible that all have sinned, all have fallen short of gods standard of perfection.

      True enough to continue on our old path we both face justice & judgement.

      But for me the difference today is that justice is only one aspect of God’s character.

      God is also:





    • You were right, you don’t deserve forgiveness, but that’s what the cross is all about. Jesus died for you so that you would be forgiven. I had an abortion 2 years ago and I’m just starting to grieve. But I do know that the blood of Jesus is bigger than any problem anyone faces. It makes me white as snow. Don’t get me wrong, I have my days and nights where I cry and cry, but that’s all about the process. I urge you to allow the Lord into your heart on a deeper level and go through the healing process. Be an advocate for the Pro-life movement. You’ll be in my prayers.

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