I recently had the opportunity to share dinner with Michaelene Fredenburg, creator of AbortionChangesYou.com. While our conversation covered a wide range of topics, it was filled with insights about grief, loss, and the healing journey.
Here's a few that have implications for maternity homes:
1. Language matters.
In Michealene's experience, she has found the term reproductive loss and grief to find more resonance with a widespread audience than would other terms we commonly use with clients. By using reproductive loss and grief to describe the suffering of abortion, people intuitively understand that the loss resembles the pain associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility.
"When I am talking to therapists and other health professionals from a variety of backgrounds and belief systems,” Michaelene said. “I have seen the light blub go off as they make the connection between the grief of miscarriage—which is commonly acknowledged—and the loss of abortion."
2. Every person's journey of healing is different.
The experience of a woman who is grieving in the days following an abortion varies significantly from the grief of an abortion carried in secret for 15 years. The models of healing programs vary accordingly, often having been developed to address the needs that were becoming evident.
Because of the pro-life movement’s awareness of this dynamic over the years, those affected by abortion can choose between a variety of wonderful programs with different formats, models of healing and philosophical foundations.
Our role in the maternity home setting is to help a woman find the most meaningful program or method in her particular stage of grief.
3. Healing can't be coerced or forced.
Representing a time of safety and community, the context of the maternity home may be an ideal environment for entering into deep healing work. But, a woman must have the freedom to face her grief according to her own timeline.
To prevent adding additional trauma, our role should always be information and invitation.
Resources such as AbortionChangesYou.com use a self-directed approach with online tools and a moderated sharing format to give women from various backgrounds an opportunity to begin exploring their grief.
Resources like these can often bridge the gap between unacknowledged grief and the road to healing, which, we know, often takes place within the setting of a maternity home.
“At Abortion Changes You, we understand ourselves as a gateway, or a starting place," Michaelene said.
Suggested Action Items:
Since the process of healing from reproductive loss and grief is at the same time essential and unique for each woman, here are some helpful tips to use in your maternity home ministry, starting today.
- Hang a sign near the house computer, inviting the mothers to check out AbortionChangesYou.com.
- Check in with your counselors about how they assess grief and loss. Do they include abortion? Do they include other reproductive losses?
- Revisit the language of your program in regards to abortion recovery—a.k.a. reproductive loss and grief. Is it time to consider new language?
- Have a volunteer create or update the list of resources available in your area to support healing for reproductive loss and grief.