Our culture tends to confuse the legalities of abortion with the actual process of coping after a difficult decision. There is an implied message that the abortion is the closure, which is simply not true. Choosing to have an abortion and feeling okay with the decision doesn't mean that a natural grieving process won't happen.
As a licensed therapist working in grief counseling, I understand more and more the correlation between choice decisions and elevated levels of depression. Abortion choices create a situation of disenfranchised grief in a woman's life. After An Abortion: Emotional Roller Coaster
What is disenfranchised grief?
Disenfranchised grief occurs when feelings are not openly acknowledged, socially validated, or publicly observed. Dealing with abortion creates a situation of disenfranchised grief in a woman's life. The loss experienced is real, but survivors are not accorded the right to grieve by anyone around them.
Examples of disenfranchisement when it comes to grief are when a pet dies, an ex-spouse dies or even in cases of job loss. It is hard for the person experiencing a loss of this type to receive sympathy from others that match the level of pain they are feeling. The expectation is to "get on with life." You can always get another dog; you should be glad that bothersome ex-husband is gone and another door of opportunity will open for employment.
In cases of choice decisions, the paradigm is even more complicated. The grieving process is complicated by a woman's inability to talk about her experience. Very few women tell anyone they've had an abortion. As a professional, it typically takes my clients nine sessions before they will talk about their past abortion.
Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of the New York Times bestseller, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom recognizes the need for women to talk about their abortions. "If every woman who ever had an abortion, or even one-third of them, were willing to speak out about her experience-not in shame, but with honesty about where she was then, what she learned, and where she is now-this whole issue would heal a great deal faster."
The common outcome of disenfranchised grief is depression. These depressive states can range anywhere from a full-blown series of days or months where the person is unable to get out of bed to a few random blue days. Not connecting one's depression with the unprocessed grief surrounding an abortion choice is normal because there are no warnings that this grief will happen. The sadness after abortion usually catches women off-guard. Coping With Your Abortion
What are common thoughts and feelings a woman experiences after an abortion?
I believe the most common thought and feeling immediately following an abortion is relief. Unfortunately, this sense of relief is not always permanent. Every circumstance surrounding an abortion experience is as unique as the woman who chooses it.