Unbeknownst to many, women who have had abortions often experience a form of grief called triggers, sometimes called triggery. Triggers can include watching parent interact with children, movies involving pregnancy, miscarriage, and birth, a baby's cry, having blood drawn, and other unexpected events.
Such events that trigger remembrance or trauma from a past abortion may seem illogical and trivial, but it is very real and valid to the woman who is experiencing it. Triggers may bring up any combination of deep grief, anger, fear, shame, and other strong emotions and reactions. Experiencing repeated triggers is likely a sign of post-abortion syndrome, a condition a majority of post-abortive women experience to varying degrees.
Frequently, post-abortive women experience a form of triggers involving wanting to get pregnant to create a "replacement" baby. This often happens after connecting with a partner who has a child with another woman. At the root of many of these triggers and subsequent reactions is the desire to bring forth life from the death of the abortion experience.
Trigger can range from mild sadness at hearing a child's whimper to weeks full of nightmares because of a miscarriage scene in a movie. Experiencing triggery events can rob a women of her physical and mental health, as well as meaningful relationship, and even gainful employment. Family may not recognize the signs, and friends may downplay the situation. It's a little recognized phenomenon, but very widespread for post-abortive women.
Women will continue to experience triggers until they have fully worked through the mourning process of the post-abortion period. This does not mean that they will eventually view it as a positive choice, but they can learn to deal honestly with the stages of grief and acceptance, and then move on to having a productive life. Triggers may never go away completely, but many can diminish with time and proper professional treatment in the form of counseling and appropriate support groups.
If you or a loved one experience post-abortion triggers, please contact your local crisis pregnancy center for a referral to counseling or support groups. Many churches host such groups, and they can be a wonderful source of knowledge and comfort for the grieving and their loved ones. If you feel like you can't go on with your decision, know that help is available for you from caring professional and volunteers who would love nothing more than help you get your life - and your heart - back on track.