Ministering to the "Extended Wounded" Who Have Been Hurt by Abortion
By Sydna Masse
The fingers of abortion reach into many lives and cross all generational lines. It affects everyone whether they know it or not. We often forget the extended wounded in the need to help the grieving post-abortive individual. Wounded family and friends don’t even know where to go to get help. Some don’t understand why they hurt so bad when the aborted baby’s parents don’t seem to be in pain.
Who Are the Extended Wounded?
Post-abortive women and men are considered directly injured by abortion. The extended wounded are impossible to count. They include, but are not limited to, the following demographic groups:
- Grandparents of the aborted child
- Siblings of the aborted child
- Siblings of the post-abortive individual
- Spouses of the post-abortive individual who are not the parent of the aborted child
- Pro-life individuals who work with the abortion-minded individual
- Friends and co-workers
- Youth ministers and pastors
- Medical personnel — doctors, nurses, staff
- And everyone else!
Virtually anyone who is remotely involved with an individual who aborts can suffer adverse effects from the abortion. Related individuals need an outlet for the stress and grief that abortion can bring to their hearts. When they come to you seeking help for someone else, help them to acknowledge and address their own wounds in this loss. Begin by asking them, “Do you realize you’ve had a loss too?”
The level of extended pain often relates to their involvement in the abortion decision. Those who participated/encouraged an abortion can feel a deeper level of guilt than those who didn’t have an influence on the choice. It is heartbreaking to discover the abortion years after the fact and come to grips with the fact that their loved one did not turn to them in their time of need or trust them with their secret.
Listen to Their Pain
You are valuable to others when you actively listen to them. Listening gives value back to the person and allows the pain and grief to come out of the hiding places of their hearts. It will also help you identify their feelings of anger, regret, shame, and guilt. You may never know what to say so don’t feel pressured to say anything. Just do your best to be a friend to them and comfort them.
Share Your Faith
True healing is possible with the Lord. Be sure to share about God’s true character of love and forgiveness that was given to us when Jesus died on the cross. Understand that even believers can misunderstand God’s love!
When people are hurting they are more open to messages of faith when examining their emotions. They want the relief that Jesus can provide to their hearts. Your faith can help them when they are struggling.
Give Them Permission to Grieve
Individuals don’t get over grief — they get through it. Lamentations 2:18-19 relays, “The hearts of the people cry out to the Lord. Oh wall of the daughter of Zion, let your tears flow like a river day and night; give yourself no relief, your eyes no rest. Arise . . . pour out your hearts like water in the presence of the Lord . . . for the lives of your children.”
For some reason the extended wounded may not feel like they have a “right” to grieve a child that wasn’t their own. It is possible to be so wrapped up in the pain that you cannot grieve.
Unexpressed grief can lead to other issues. God created us to cry. He dedicated a whole book of the Bible — Lamentations — to this process. Tears are the body’s natural way to rid itself of toxins.
Encourage everyone involved in this pain to grieve for the child. Assure the individual that he or she isn’t “going crazy” by being overwhelmed by emotion or tears. As relayed in Isaiah 61:2-3, God has sent you “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning .. . .”
Help Them Identify Their Emotions
Feelings betray us and could determine how our spiritual life is advancing or retreating. Sorrowful emotions put a cloud over our thinking abilities. If these emotions are not identified and surrendered, we can easily become bound to these sentiments.
Encourage the extended wounded to express their “gut level” perceptions to discover which is hurting them the most. Often when feelings of anger and guilt and unforgiveness issues are resolved, the others will follow in short order. Is there pride? Guilt? Sin? Anger? Betrayal? How are these emotions being acted out in everyday life?
We can’t bring the baby back, but we can change our attitude and how we view the people involved in the abortion decision. Encourage them to ask God to change bad attitudes and feelings and replace them with grace, mercy, empathy, love, and compassion.
Loving people who hurt us can be very difficult — especially if the offending person isn’t repentant. Help them understand that with God’s help we can do all things.
Ask Good Questions
Asking good questions will help piece together the broken story of abortion. Questions help the person who is sharing by letting them know you are really listening and that you validate their feelings. They also clarify what you are hearing and clear up misunderstandings. Here are some examples of good questions:
- How did you feel deep inside when you found out about the abortion?
- Do you ever get angry with the post-abortive person now even though you’ve talked it through with them? How do you express this anger?
- How is your spouse handling this situation? Do these emotions affect you?
- When was the last time you heard God’s voice?
By asking questions, you can help them pull out emotions they may not perceive. When a couple is going through the grief of an abortion, one can stifle their emotions while the other weeps openly in pain. Couples can also blame each other.
Always rely on the Holy Spirit’s lead in knowing what questions to ask.
Help Them Understand Feelings of Guilt
Psalm 32:3-4 says, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped.”
Feelings of guilt and shame often run together in the emotions of an abortion. For example,parents who forced their child to abort need to realize that they bear a large part of the guilt of the abortion decision.
This dynamic changes for the person who tried to stop the abortion from taking place. A simple question like, “Do you feel guilty?” can help you determine to what extent this is impacting their heart. Confession is a great place to start relieving the burden.
Ephesians 4:22 says, “And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you.”
Everyone needs to understand forgiveness as it relates to God, others, and themselves. It could be that the process of forgiving must be accomplished on a daily basis. Some days we struggle more than others to surrender this pain.
Many are furious at the abortion industry for victimizing their loved ones. Someone once said, “Having bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping that the other person dies.” These emotions don’t hurt anyone but ourselves.
Many also have difficulty forgiving themselves. Recognize these emotions as real and help them to understand how important forgiveness is in the plan of God’s salvation.. Scripture is a great place to start in teaching this principle:
Forgiveness from God, Forgiving Others
Here are some helpful Scripture verses:
1 John 2:9
Give Them a Hope for Their Future
A memorial service provides dignity and importance to the lost person and gives closure to the grieving. The services allow the focus to shift from the hurting to the missing. Post-abortion ministries should establish a special service for the extended wounded in your ministry. This time can be powerful for your staff as well as yourself.
The extended wounded should also be allowed to provide a name for the child in the parent’s stead. This name can become a “nickname” in the future if another name is given by the baby’s parent(s). Planting a tree or bush, releasing a balloon, or writing a poem/song is a great way to memorialize these children.
They Can Help Bring Others to God’s Healing<
Whenever the extended wounded are in pain, they must know that healing is possible and they have a right to grieve despite the fact that the child wasn’t their own. When you share about the pain of abortion, be sure to include them so their pain will be validated as real. God’s blessing of healing can start with the extended wounded and migrate to the post-abortive individual and the entire family!
Sydna Masse is director of Ramah International post-abortion counseling ministries and co-author of Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion.
Originally published in The Post-Abortion Review, 11(4), Oct-Dec. 2003. Reprinted from Ramah’s Voice, 4(5), Sept./Oct. 2003. © 2003, Ramah International. Reprinted with permission.
Grandparents: Ministering to Abortion’s Extended Wounded
Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion
Her Choice to Heal Recovery Guide
A Time to Heal Bible Study
A Memory Should Be . . .
A poem in memory of my grandbaby
Sometimes . . . in the still of the night
There is a place
Where there should be a memory.
A newborn hand
First steps and things to see.
But always in that memory
Your precious face is hid from me.
Sometimes . . . in the still of the night
In that place where a memory should be
A precious peace comes over me
For I know that Jesus holds my memory.
As I sought out and received healing from my daughter’s abortion, God began to grow my outreach at the pregnancy care center. I have talked to more extended wounded than I had ever imagined. God has used my grandchild to reach out to others who have suffered from abortion. I am much more empathetic with women I counsel with as well.
God stripped away my preconceived ideas about women who abort. I have worked with women who tell me their mothers would ‘freak out’ to find out they were pregnant. They justify that abortion is the only answer, and through my grandchild’s death, God has used me to challenge that thinking.
“Does God make good come out of bad? Oh, yes, He does — for His name’s sake! Now I appreciate Romans 8:28 and understand the unique workings of an almighty God.”
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