Recognizing the loss of your potential baby
An important step in healing after an abortion is to "grieve" the loss of your potential baby. Some people might try to tell you that because you 'chose to have an abortion', that doesn't mean it
is a 'real loss', or that you have any right to be sad about it. They are wrong! Loss through an abortion is emotionally and physically as real a loss as any other type. Loss through abortion is a "prenatal loss", and it can be more painful and upsetting than a 'normal loss' such as a miscarriage. Women who have miscarriages, and disclose it publicly can get sympathy, cards, flowers, time off work to recooperate, ect. Women who have an abortion, and then disclose it publicly can get ridiculed, called names, harassed, and experience numerous other unhelpful things. So women who've had abortions don't even get the relief of publicly expressing what happened to them, and why they are sad or having a hard time. Realize that when you've had an abortion, you are legitimately owed the right to grieve, and you can experience pregnancy loss feelings just like other women do for miscarriages. Gestational age does not necessarily correspond to the intensity of grief and loss. The first moment you started thinking about your baby, and whether it was a boy/girl, whether you might keep it or not, how life with the baby might be like, how it would be if you could turn back the clock and make a different choice, ect, you start forming an "emotional bond" with the child. Once the potential child is "gone", that emotional bond is broken, and you are left with pregnancy loss feelings that need to be recognized and expressed. The ideas in this section will help you think of ways you could remember and honor your child, and remember your loss. Doing these activities and ideas will help you work through your pregnancy loss issues and feelings, as realted to your abortion.
Another sensitive issue that bothers women is that they don't have a physical place to go, to grieve, (like a cemetary) with a headstone. No 'traditional' way to honor the loss they feel. Some women are also upset because they do not have 'remains' to bury or cremate. Remember that other mothers and women have suffered losses like this - when a loved one is lost at sea, in wars, or natural disasters such as earthquakes, mudslides, ect, many times there are no 'remains', and no way to obtain the remains or know what happened to them. This is a distressing thought, but don't let this stop you.. You can create your own place to remember and mourn, as these other women have. Some of the ideas below will help you in creating your own special place to remember your loss, and express your feelings of grief, loss and sadness.
Another important thing to remember - when you are doing memorial activities or ceremonies for your baby, this does not mean you are doing these things to then 'forget' about it all and 'get over it' - some people might mistakenly think these are ways of doing something, and then they have to drop all thoughts, feelings and emotions about the baby's loss, and 'get on' with regular life. This is not the purpose of this section! When you feel you have lost a child, this is not something that will easily go away - this is a loss that stays with women the rest of their lives - and the best way to deal with it is not to try and ignore it, or push it away. The best way is to do things that say to you that you have suffered a real loss, that you have been in pain and grieving because of this loss. By doing memorial activities, you help express that grief, you help to find ways to honor your feelings of loss, and then you can go on with the next day, not 'forgetting' what has happened, or 'forgetting' your baby, but with the knowledge that you have done something to remember and honor them. That is the best way to deal with grief, to honor and remember it.. To try and just 'forget it', or 'get over it' does not help, and instead makes us feel resentful and upset, as if our losses are not being taken seriously. Internally, we will suffer, and be sad, and upset, if we are not allowed to express the real feelings of pregnancy loss that we are experiencing.
- The following is a poem written by one of the ladies from the site - this is an excellent poem, and expresses the feelings and ambiguity that lots of us feel, in reagrds to greiving for our child.
My Invisible Child....
Invisible child, you came to me.
Invisible child, no one could see
how important you were, but...
oh, the feelings you've stirred..
You were never to hold, never to have,
never to see.
To all, but me.
You came to me so long ago,
and made a mark--I couldnt let go.
You've lingered in my heart, my son,
and blinded I've been by all the tears.
Weighed down with pain, crushed with
My wings were clipped and to Hell I've slipped.
Darkness prevailed and clouded my eyes,
My heart so scarred, I wished to die.
A sickness crept in and housed my soul,
and created a blackness--an empty hole.
Imprisoned on the ground, I looked up to the sky,
And secretly I wondered if I could take up wings to fly.
But flight is not the answer,
Wings are not the way.
So I've picked myself up off the ground
to find a better way.
The cloud is slowly lifting and my eyes
again can see.
There is so much beauty in this life,
and I know you're here with me.
I now can see the gifts you've brought,
and, oh, Lord, what lessons you've taught!
My invisible child--never to see.
My invisible child--never meant to be.
My invisible child--you're visible to me.
My visible child---my son, Jeffrey.
- Visit the Loss Remembrance board in the message board system, and tell us about your baby. This is a place where you can post a memorial, or a letter to, or a poem about your baby.
- Some women find comfort in creating a 'memorial' website about their experience, discussing their story. This is one way to honor your grief for their loss, and to give exposure to your story, so others can also know about your experience.
- You can post an additional memorial at another site, Lisa's Angel Memorials
- Kim's tip
A little over a year after my abortion I posted a memorial to
my baby here
on this very website. It helped a great deal but, I was still
needed something else, some sort of closure. The day before the
anniversary of the abortion I found out about a website for The
The Holy Innocents. At the church they have a shrine in memory
who have "died unborn". It doesn't matter how they died, and you don't have to say. You can
go to the
website and have them enter your Child's name in the book at the
called "The Book Of Life". After you have asked for the name to
into the book they send you a certificate with the Child's name
that they are forever remembered in the book of life. Also the
of every month they have a mass at 12:15pm in honor of the
names have been inscribed in the Book of Life. I found this to
comforting to have something physical with her name on it, as
proof to her
existence and death. I hope this idea helps women who are
suffering as I
did. God bless. The Shrine of the Holy Innocents can be found
- Buy yourself a special piece of jewelry to remind you of the baby. Rings are very popular, and you can have the baby's name engraved inside it. You can also choose a birthstone ring, with the choice of the month the baby was conceived in, the month it was aborted in, or the month it was due in as the birthstone. The nice part about jewelry is you can wear it when you feel like commemorating the baby, and take it off when you don't. Costume jewelry works just as well as 'real' jewelry for this!
- Some women have told me they have gotten tattos with the baby's name on it, or other symbols that are significant to them. One woman had a little angel tatooed on the back of her shoulder, another had a small butterfly tattooed on her back.
- Some women have also told me they have gotten body piercings, and wear a gemstone pierced jewel in memory.
- Write a poem or a letter to the baby - then go to someplace calm and beautiful, and read the poem or letter out loud, and then either save it in a memento book, or burn it there. One woman took a poem and flowers to her local covered bridge - she read the poem, then threw the poem and some of the flowers into the water, and watched them float away. The other flowers she took home, and had her sister press into a decoration for her.
- Plan and hold a "memorial service". This can be as small as you lighting a candle one night, and saying some things that have meaning to you, or as large as inviting some open-minded and supportive friends over for a larger ceremony, to even going to the church of your choice, and discussing with the Pastor about having a "regular" funeral.
- One woman went to her local headstone company, and told them she had lost a baby before birth, and wanted a small stone to put in her garden, with the name she had chosen for the baby, and the 'loss dat' on it. The company had a small remnant of a beautiful rose marble, and they took that, and carved in the baby's name and 'loss date' for her. It was very reasonable, and she took this stone home to her garden. She had a 'dedication' ceremony for the stone, with balloons and candles and reading of a letter she had written. Now whenever she feels sad, or the need to express her feelings, she goes out to her garden, sits by the stone, and talks, crys, whatever she needs to do, The best part is since the stone is small, if she moves, she can take it with her to whereever she goes.
- Donations - different types are listed below. No one needs to know 'why' you are memoralizing your baby - you can just say it was a 'loss before birth'. I don't like to encourage women to feel 'ashamed' of their abortions, but the truth is that if you tell people you are comemmorating a baby lost through abortion, they look at you a bit strangely. The general public does not understand.
- Commemorate the baby with things like planting flowers or bushes or trees in his/her honor. Ask if you can include a plaque, which can read "In Memory of (baby's name) and the year" the year can be the year of dedication, or it can say "In memory of (Baby's Name), lost before birth in 1989".
- Check with your local department of recreation and parks, about donating a tree or flowers for a local park. Ask about including a plaque. You can get a plaque made at your local trophy shop - look in the yellow pages for good ones. And again, you don't need to explain why you are getting the plaque - it's your personal business.
- Check with your local Board of Education about donating a tree or flowers to a local elementary school. Ask about including a plaque.
- Donate other things in memory of your baby - clothes, shoes, food gift certificates to your local Department of Social Services, or to a group in your area that helps women or children.
- Make up a baby memorial book. Scrapbook kits found at craft stores aer a great place to start. You can also get a plain journal book, and write in poems, memories, thoughts. Then you can decorate the book anyway you like.
- The best way one woman found to memorialize her baby was to write a poem and tie it to
pink and blue balloons. She let them go
at a special spot close to her heart and
her baby's. She said it made her feel like she sent
them to Heaven to be with him.
- Also keeping a box with things that remind you of your child..name cards (One woman had found name cards with the meaning of the name on it - she kept one of those cards in her memorial box)
- There are pins called "Angel on the Shoulder", and some have birthstones - this is another piece of commemorative jewelry that you can wear.
- One woman, who was an excellent singer, went to one of those rent by the hour karaoke studios, and made a special recording of all the songs she felt reminded her of her son, and the feelings she had in regards to him and his loss.
Ideas and Stories shared by Site Visitors
- Nathan's Birthday by ocean
Today would have been Nathan's birthday and so I wanted to honor him somehow. This weekend dh
and I went to a park/campground by the lake and I could have sworn that I felt Nathan's presence there. I wanted
to back there to be with him today. It is so beautiful. The lake is partially frozen so there are beautiful ice
formations along the shore. There were also waves hitting the ice in that soothing rhythmic motion where you can
feel the waves taking all of your troubles away and into the water (almost like my ocean at home).
There were are
bunch of large pieces of driftwood making their presence known by their strong contrast to the pure white snow.
Across the lake were the gorgeous majestic mountains...just a hint of another world across the state line. It was so
beautiful!! Unfortunately it was also freezing by the water. So I sat in my car and wrote in my journal while I
listened to Sarah Mclaughlin.
As I sat there I finally came to the realization that my baby chose me for a reason. He wasn't ready to be
on the earth but he wanted to touch me and change me. What a very special gift to be touched by such a giving
I had bought two carnations with me. A red one for the love I feel for him and a white one to symbolize
his innocence. I wanted to leave them on the frozen lake but the ice was getting thin so instead I decided to leave
them in the shelter of a piece of driftwood with a wonderful view of the mountains across the lake.
I pushed the
stems into the snow and then realized that the leaf was missing.... I had had it a few minutes earlier. I took it for a
symbol that life will go on without him.
As I was trying to leave my car wouldn't start...There was no one around so while I waited I decided to
make snow angels.....for Hope. I tried again and my car started on the first try!!
I didn't want to go directly home so I decided to go for a drive somewhere I had never been before. Just
when I was thinking of turning around I drove by a statue that had a plaque that said "Memory Of The Unborn"!
was shocked I really had never seen anything like that before, although I had heard of it. I was in a very tiny town
but found a grocery store and right at the front door were bundles of red and white carnations!!!
I bought them and
laid a few by the statue in the memory of Nathan. I threw another bunch from a bridge into a river that went to the
lake and I still have some to keep in a vase at home :)
When I got home I found a very special gift from a very special friend in my mail box ;) So all in all I had
a really good day considering. I think that all of your good vibes and special thoughts really were with me today.
Thank you all so much.
I know this is long already but I would also like to share the letter that I wrote to Nathan today:
To my dearest Nathan,
Today is the day that you should have been born. Although I think of you daily, today I have
dedicated to you. I am sad that you are not here in person to celebrate but I know that you are
here with me in spirit. I am so sorry for what I did. I was so confused and frightened and did not
understand the consequences. I still do not have any justification for what I did. I didn't know
that you would be such a big part of my life. You came into my life, if only for a short time, and
you have changed who I am. You have made me a better person and now I will be more prepared
to welcome your future brothers and sisters. I am sorry that you couldn't stay with us longer but
you will always be a huge part of me and our family. Happy Birthday my darling boy.
love always Mommy XOXO
- Tips from Grace…
~*~I recently bought a Claddagh ring (which is commonly used as an Irish wedding band), and I wear that to remember my baby. I often touch the heart in the middle of the band and think of her.
~*~With the due date fast approaching, I wanted to do something special as a memorial to my daughter and my past. I decided to take the day off from work, and I drove up to the mountains. Along the way, I stopped to buy two roses. It took me about two hours to get to my special place, but I finally made it around noon. I took my backpack, with the roses sticking out of the top, and I began to hike into the snowy woods. It was a beautiful day, with the sun out and the birds singing. I hiked upwards to a beautiful lake that I often visit in the summer. The lake is nestled in the mountains. In the spring and summer it is a beautiful emerald color and is covered in lily pads. Now that winter has arrived, the lake has frozen over, and it looks like a shimmering crystal. I finally reached the lake and walked around to the end, where there is a small clearing and a bench. I stayed at the bench for 2 hours, remembering my pain and sadness over losing my baby. I wrote in my journal as I looked over the beautiful crystal lake, and I spoke to my baby. I told her how sorry I was for not having the courage to follow my heart. I told her that I would never forget her, as we would always be connected through our souls. Before I left, I took the red and white roses that I had brought and tied them together. I walked out onto the frozen lake and left the roses as a memorial to my daughter. The red and white roses symbolize unity, which is how I will forever feel with my first child.
It was truly healing and spiritual experience for me. As I sat on the bench journaling, the wind began to blow fiercely. I put my journal down, closed my eyes, and whispered to the wind "Blow my past away" For you to understand this; you must know that I often drag my past around like excess baggage. It is very difficult for me to put something that happened to me in the past and leave it there.... I continued to sit there, and let the wind blow through me, helping me to release my past, my baggage, and put it to rest. The sun warmed my body after the wind died away... I felt a sense of renewal as I begin to pack up my belongings for the hike back.
I feel very content with my soul now. I know that I have made peace with my past mistakes, and have taken away great life lessons to stay with me as I go though my existence. My soul feels complete, and I have the courage and strength to continue on my way, accomplishing the things in my path. I know there will be times when I revisit my sadness and my longing for my daughter, but in spirit, I know she is with me, helping me navigate the twists and turns in the path of life. I know she has forgiven me. And, I have forgiven myself.
- Today was my due date. I took the day off from work and slept in. Then I got
ready, put on the pair of blue topaz earrings that my mom gave me (the
baby's birthstone) when she found out I was pregnant, and headed out. I went
nowhere in particular. I just drove around in one direction until I was far
away out of town. I went to a grocery store and bought a single pink rose
and a mylar helium balloon that was also pink. It was Winnie the Pooh and it
was for a new baby. It said "It's a Girl!" all around the edges. These
things were stuff I imagined someone might have brought me in the hospital.
Then I went out into a wooded area and sat and wrote a letter to my baby. I
also wrote an entry in my journal. I tied the note to the balloon and got
out of the car to put on my jacket. As I was doing this the balloon got away
and flew out of my car. It floated up for a little while before getting
stuck in a tree, high up. I was disappointed at first, but I took the rose
(which I tied a piece of pink ribbon around the stem in a bow) and went
through the trees to the base of the tree where the balloon was stuck. I
knelt down and placed the rose against the trunk. I sat there and prayed and
cried and said all the things I needed to say. The rose was so beautiful
sitting there as it was such a contrast to all the foliage around which had
turned brown and brittle due to the winter season. The balloon swooping
around the branches above and the rose made a kind of grave/altar. I sat
there for awhile and then gently untied the pink bow from the stem of the
rose. I told my baby goodbye one last time and then left and took the ribbon
with me. As I was driving off I could still see her balloon blowing around
in the top of the tree. I feel so much better now. I said what I wanted and
now I feel ready to move on. The funny thing is the lesson that the balloon
taught me. Even though I bought it planning on making a little ceremony of
letting it go and watching it fly off towards heaven, it flew out of the car
before I was ready. It wasn't the way I would have liked things to work out
but in the end it turns out it was better the way it happened. I liked the
balloon up in the tree above my little girl's rose. Do you all see the
symbolism here??? Just because things don't turn out the way we would have
liked concerning our pregnancies, doesn't mean it is always a bad thing and
that we need to look for the other blessings that we were not expecting.
Here is the letter I wrote her:
Today is your birthday and though you are no longer here with me, I want you
to know that Mommy loves you. I wish we'd had more time together here on
earth. I apologize for what I did. I had no courage. I do believe you
blessed my life for a reason. I know God holds you in His arms and takes
care of you. I only wish I could do the same. One day we will meet again in
heaven. Until then, please know that your Mommy loves you very much and I
vow to do all I can here on earth with the chance that your death
facilitated for me.
I Love You!
- More things to collect for a memorial box - maybe even a song, or a favorite flower, or a drawing of what your child would've looked like in your eyes...from what you can put together. Turn a baby book into a baby box. I have decided on starting one up for myself...but I have to make sure that I keep it stored safely...maybe even buy a safe (one that locks). Along with poems, maybe even make a video for your child, saying what you feel towards yourself and the decision you have made.
Another one, some people may find it odd, but when I went to have my procedure done, I had to travel 5hrs away to have it done in the nearest city that does it. Well when you travel, you wear comfortable clothing, well I bought plaid, flannel, PJ pants. I have worn them quite often...and they are in memory, I don't want to get rid of them, so I have put them away and I am making a baby pillow with it, that way, I can always have it to remind me of it.