One in every four Australian women has had an abortion.
Consider this: What is the impact of every fourth woman participating in a death that was unnatural?
Firstly let’s contemplate how a natural death impacts someone; perhaps we have lost a family member.
The common reactions to death are – shock, not being sure how to respond, and feeling like your life has been turned upside down. This may be experienced through feeling dazed, numb or empty.
Experiencing complete disbelief about what has happened and feeling nothing at first before one eventually starts to feel various emotions.
Emotionally one may feel sadness, anger, disbelief, guilt, despair and loneliness. And psychologists warn against trying to avoid or hide one’s feelings.
Behaviourally, one’s sleep may be interrupted, experiencing dreams or nightmares, changes in appetite, not wanting to go out to be around people, anxiety, experiencing emotional reactions or feeling weepy and spiritually, an inner struggle.
So how much more will a death that was unnatural impact a woman?
How much more will it directly impact her, when the life was inside her body?
In Websters Dictionary, unnatural is defined as ‘not being in accordance with nature or consistent with a normal course of events.’ A ‘termination’ is unnatural for both these reasons.
The terminating of life preceding natural conception. It is also the end of a milestone in a woman’s life with potential for beauty, resilience, joy, congratulations, a ‘village’, unpredictability, wonder, significance, higher purpose, anticipation and change.
Whether a woman regrets having an abortion or not, she has been involved as a first party in a death that was contrary to the laws of nature.
As a mother with friends who have had miscarriages and abortions, I am deeply concerned and sensitive to the reality that most times after taking the chemical abortion pill which expels the tiny baby from the womb, the mother witnesses her dead baby before her very eyes.
A West African proverb goes “The length of a frog is only known after its death”. Which refers to people only really knowing the full value of someone after they’ve died. I see no reason why this thought would not also apply to death by unnatural means.
Dr Philip Ney and Dr Marie Peeters-Ney are the founders of Hope Alive Australia and it’s worth reading about their extensive research on this topic. They explain there can be many reasons why it can be difficult to grieve. Because one may not be permitted to, because one may have been told to just move on, to ‘get over it’. Or because it is too painful to start grieving.
Unresolved grief is “characterised by the extended duration of symptoms, by interference of the grief symptoms with the normal functioning of the mourner, and/or by the intensity of the symptoms. For example, intense suicidal thoughts or acts” (Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, ‘Grief: Loss of a loved one/What is grief’, 2016).
Can we open our eyes to see the women silently suffering, a longer and/or more intensive grief? Our friends, colleagues and neighbours, and their partner or husband, children and family?
Oftentimes we very clinically remove ourselves from any conversations regarding abortion. But we need to be sensitised to the varying grief around us being experienced by those we love.