How Can I Recover Emotionally After an Abortion?
An abortion is a permanent decision that can cause a complex emotional response afterward. If you’ve had an abortion, you may be surprised by the difficult emotions that can seemingly surface out of nowhere.
Whether you’re feeling emotions like guilt, shame, regret, anger, or grief after an abortion—it’s all normal and understandable. And you’re not alone. A report by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion (TFMHA) found that “it is clear that some women do experience sadness, grief, and feelings of loss following termination of a pregnancy, and some experience clinically significant disorders, including depression and anxiety.”
If you’re having a hard time recovering emotionally after an abortion—whether it’s been days, weeks, or even years since the procedure—healing is possible.
Read on to learn strategies to help you find hope and begin to heal.
Talk About Your Feelings
Emotions are a lot like a carbonated soda—the more you feel shaken and hold in your emotions, the more the pressure builds and builds. It’s only when you let these emotions out that the overwhelming pressure will ease and, you’ll gain a sense of clarity.
Talking to a trusted friend, mentor, relative, counselor, or support group is one way to let your emotions out. By talking about your feelings, you’re taking those emotions out of your head and getting them out in the open. Being able to verbalize what you’re feeling to another person is a cathartic exercise that can be a first step toward healing.
When choosing your trusted individual or group to talk to, it’s important that they are active listeners—which means that they will listen with the intent of understanding rather than trying to give you advice. The goal in talking about your feelings isn’t to necessarily get someone else’s advice—it’s more about allowing you to get your feelings off your chest.
Name Your Emotions
You’re likely feeling many emotions all at once, which is why it’s important to name each feeling individually. If you don’t, the feelings can tangle together and become too overwhelming to deal with. But by naming each feeling, you’re able to work through them individually and it will feel less intimidating (imagine the benefit of untangling a single string versus a whole ball of yarn).
Journaling is a great way to name and think through the different emotions you’re feeling. A good place to start is to simply list out each emotion (grief, sadness, regret, etc.), Then, answer the following questions about each emotion:
- When I think about my abortion experience, why does this emotion surface?
- While I can’t change the past, what can I do right now to make this feeling less overwhelming in my life?
- What do I want to feel instead of this emotion? What are things I can do to feel this instead? (For example, would sharing your experience with other women help? What about pusuing a hobby you enjoy?)
Talking about your feelings and naming them in a journal can be healing first steps, but finding support in a caring, non-judgmental environment can take you further on your healing journey. At First Concern Pregnancy Resource Center, we offer compassionate support in an encouraging, welcoming environment. What you’re feeling after an abortion is understandable and valid, and we’re here for you. Contact us today to get on a path toward hope and healing.