Men and Abortion, Grief and Healing
by Wayne F. Brauning, M. Div., D. Min.
I have a friend whose father disappeared in Mexico. The loss has been
more painful for him than if his father had died in his arms. How can one
grieve for a father who has simply disappeared? For that matter, how can
one grieve for a child who has simply "vanished?"
Fathers and mothers of aborted children are like my friend. Each must
struggle with how to grieve the loss of a person who "disappeared" from
their lives. The fact is this person, who truly did exist and touched their
lives -- with longings, memories of fear or joy, visual images, bodily
sensations, and dreams of what could be -- is now gone.
The lives of aborted children touch people in different ways, but no
one is untouched. One woman, who did not want the abortion, began to lactate.
Her motherly instincts were stirred. She continues to wish that this baby,
who would now be grown, were sitting at her table. Her husband, eighteen
years later, still grieves over the fact that he did not fulfill his role
as the protector of his unborn child.
Every man and woman of an aborted child knows the truth. Their children
are gone forever and cannot be brought back or replaced. There will always
be a void in their lives--a void made more painful by memories, and regrets,
and dreams of what their child might have been.
Grieving for an aborted baby is different from the loss of any other
loved one. Abortion is not part of any natural process like miscarriage.
It is not a mysterious disappearance. It is the deliberate act of taking
the life of a defenseless person.
Participating in an abortion always produces real guilt before God in
the person who is responsible for the decision to take the life of the
child. Men have told me that they knew they were guilty of getting the
woman pregnant, of pressuring her to get an abortion, or of not coming
to the rescue of the child.
Abortion also produces anger--anger at oneself for participating in
the abortion, anger at others for putting on the pressure, anger at the
circumstances, or anger at God for permitting it to happen in the first
place. When a woman decides to abort against the desires of her child's
father, the man has no legal power to protect his child. It is common for
such a man to be filled with rage at the mother and others who destroyed
Genuine grieving cannot happen while guilt or anger dominates our hearts.
Before the grieving can begin, you must handle your personal guilt before
God and others and your anger toward the persons who made the decision
and toward the circumstances in which it was made.
God alone can lift the dreadful monster of guilt for participating in
an abortion. In Jesus Christ, who died for sinners, God says to those who
are guilty: "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give
you rest." Put yourself into His hands and through His forgiveness of your
sins, He will begin to heal you so that you can find ways to make restitution
for this sin. Then a genuine peace will begin to fill your heart.
Jesus is also the solution to anger. Once He enters your heart, He will
begin to transform your anger so that you can generously forgive others,
as He does, and rebuild relationships with those you want to love.
Genuine grieving can now begin. First, you will grieve for the little
person, whose potential you will never see fulfilled, who will never have
a chance to frolic in the snow or sun or blow out her birthday candles.
(An appropriate memorial service can help you begin this lifelong process
of letting her go.) Then you will grieve for yourself, that your baby will
never hug you, never learn the Lord's Prayer from your lips, never grow
up and send you birthday cards. You will also grieve for your loved ones:
your parents who will not know their grandchild, your other children who
will miss the companionship of their sibling, and for the Church which
is missing one person whose gifts could have been used for God's great
Grieve my friend, grieve! Don't hold back. The reason for this sorrow
is genuine and profound. Don't try to explain it away by analyzing it.
Simply let it out. And do not be afraid to share your burden with a Christian
brother. You will grieve over and over again, but after a time, your walk
with Christ will allow you to "cast your burden on Him and He will sustain
Go in His peace, carrying it as a pearl of great price to someone else
who is suffering so they too may find rest in Him, and in His peace, become
free to serve!
Dr. Wayne Brauning is the founder of Men's Abortion ReCovery (MARC).
Additional resources covering this subject are available by writing Dr.
Brauning at 237 S. 13th Avenue, Coatsville, PA 19320, (610)
384-3210. Copyright 1996 Wayne Brauning.
Published in The PostAbortion Review 4(4) Fall 1996.