For today, you are being asked to set those strong feelings aside and consider another facet of it. Grief.
For today, you are being asked to see the woman another way. Compassionately.
If you have trouble with that concept, consider this. There is a moment in your life that you remember in vivid detail. Something went wrong. Something happened that shouldn’t have, or something that should have happened didn’t. An accident? A natural disaster? Death? Divorce? Illness? Separation? Words you wish you hadn’t said? Words you wish you had?
No one can know how you felt at that moment. You may or may not have had the ability to make the outcome different. But no one knows exactly how it was then, except you. But you don’t want that moment to be the only part of you that people see. You want to be accepted – even loved – for the person you are now, today. You are not perfect, none of us are. But you want to be known as a human being, with all that goes with that.
Are you aware that you know at least three women who have had abortions? Oh, you may not be aware that they did. But every time the topic comes up, someone takes peoples’ comments to heart. Someone feels something deep down, that she may be afraid to express. She is afraid of misunderstanding, rejection, or worse. The crass ones among us might say she brought it on herself. We all have lived the consequences of our decisions, haven’t we?
Imagine if you could not tell someone that you had lost your mother, or lost a child, because they would tell you it was your own fault? Imagine if someone openly and harshly condemned you when they learned you are divorced? How does it feel when the bruises your child got learning to ride a bike, prompted a call from the school nurse to Family Services?
Just for today you are being asked to see a woman who has had an abortion as someone who is hurting. Mother’s Day reminds her that she is a mother, but not a mother.
Mother’s Day forces her to revisit an extremely difficult, even traumatic time.
Mother’s Day reminds her that she hasn’t been able to grieve her loss. That no one wants her to talk about it, because they feel uncomfortable.
The woman who’s had an abortion fits Henri Nouwen’s description of the Walking Wounded. People who cannot or will not grieve, thus they don’t heal. It affects – sometimes adversely – every single facet of their lives. Every decision, every relationship, the way they deal with life, their emotional and physical health.
You know three women. Every woman you know also knows three women.
Twenty years after her abortion, “Anna” says her mother still doesn’t know about it. Only three people did. No one counseled her. She could not grieve her lost child. Anna says after a while it seems unreal, because she could never talk about it. She’s mostly numb – still – because it’s just too huge to deal with. Sometimes she even forgets about it, until something comes up in the news, or in a conversation in which she cannot participate.
On Mothers Days, she focused on her mother. For a few years after the abortion, though, they were hard days to get through.
Anna describes having an abortion as a very isolating experience. Isolation is lonely. She says it’s much easier to be in denial. That’s how she coped.
It doesn’t hurt all the time now, even when people ask if she has children. However it all came back when she was unable to have children later. At this point in the interview, Anna changed the subject.
Imagine what the world could be like if, just for today, we wrapped our arms around these women? Told them they are lovable and have worth? That while we don’t understand their experience, we don’t reject them for it?
What if we used Mother’s Day to reach out to the people from whom we’ve been separated over this decision, and decide to let the past be, and carry on from the now?
There is so much pain in the world. Just for today, cast a healing pebble into the pool, and let the ripples take you where they may.
Just for today, let’s work toward
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