How To Survive Mother's Day If You Feel Post-Abortion Grief

Photo: getty
sad woman laying in bed
Heartbreak

Mother's Day for women who have had a voluntary pregnancy termination or abortion can be just as unhappy as Valentine's Day for people in bad relationships.

On a day that motherhood is embraced and celebrated, many women experience sadness over their choice and are reminded of "what might have been."

And there's no escaping Mother's Day after abortion — the holiday is everywhere, from TV to the aisles of Walmart.

There is no safe place to share that this day is one of pain and loss for women who have made this choice.

While there may be an overall feeling of relief, in the recesses of so many women's hearts, there's an intense sadness that penetrates the happy reality of the day.

RELATED: 12 Thoughts I Had While I Was Getting An Abortion

Abortions can make a woman feel awful for some time, but it holds no candle to the emotional pain and mental toll it takes on her. Most deal with major mental health issues including depression and anxiety, as well as extreme grief.

Don't even get me started on the effects pro-life vs. pro-choice agenda can do to those who have gotten an abortion!

Physically, most women do not fully recover from abortions until 6 weeks or more. Along with emotional healing, women can physically heal faster by massaging their stomachs, using heat therapy, and taking the prescribed medications from the doctor. 

Women who have elected to terminate a pregnancy often don't understand how to deal with grief and loss from abortion. They also don't feel that they have the permission to grieve over a loss that they themselves (for whatever reason) have chosen.

Women may have a range of emotions after having an abortion since every abortion experience is different. However, if their mood keeps them from doing the things they usually do each day, they should call their doctor.

RELATED: I'm A Mom Who Had An Abortion At 17 And It Still Haunts Me

But, in the meantime, here's what to do on Mother's Day if you are experiencing sadness, depression, or anger.

1. Know that you're not alone. 

First of all, please know that many women are struggling with abortion grief. There's a misunderstanding in our culture about how many women have experienced voluntary pregnancy termination.

Every day, millions of women sit in silence with the grief they're feeling over their decision. They don't need their decision validated, but they do need their grief acknowledged.

2. Take a pause. 

Give yourself permission to feel sadness. Let yourself "go to the pain," knowing that if you don't grieve your loss, you have to live with sorrow.

Talk to a person you feel safe with, possibly family members. Buy yourself a flower or some other sort of memorial-type item, and let yourself be sad.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

3. Realize this issue might need further exploration.

If Mother's Day is a trigger for you, know that the grief inside needs processing. It is not going away, so you need to explore what's underneath. 

You can take this self-evaluation to see how it might be affecting you today. Go to a therapist, where discussions like this can be completely confidential. Let them walk this journey to resolution with you.

61 percent of unintended pregnancies end in abortion. Of that 61 percent, more than half have struggled with their emotional health afterward. You are not alone in your feelings of grief or anger. If you are struggling, visit SAMHSA.gov to find a help center or support groups near you. 

RELATED: My First Abortion Was Just As Horrific As You Thought It'd Be

Trudy Johnson is a certified trauma specialist who works with many women through brief intensive therapy. Visit her website, Missing Pieces, for more information.