Mother’s Day can be a holiday fraught with emotion for those who have experienced loss related to motherhood. People may feel stuck in the middle of roses and spa ads while they don’t have their mom with them any longer, or they suffer from infertility and cannot have kids, or have experienced miscarriages. 

Or maybe they have experienced abortion, and Mother’s Day just isn’t something they can or want to handle. Reproductive experiences such as abortion can be very complicated, and it’s not something our society freely discusses. 

Some women are not affected by Mother’s Day, such as one mom of three whose abortion was decades ago and another who had an abortion as a teen. Both said that they don’t relate to struggling with Mother’s Day. 

Other women who have experienced abortion sometimes really dread Mother’s Day, such as these women who posted anonymously in a social media group:

– When people wish me a Happy Mother’s Day, it makes my skin crawl. It isn’t a happy day for me. I have a child who makes me so happy. But part of me won’t ever be complete because of the two children who aren’t with me because of my abortions. Mother’s Day is very uncomfortable.

– My abortion was almost 30 years ago, and I still struggle with the loss on the due date, the abortion date, and especially on Mother’s Day. I was a single mom with four young kids. I had no support and just couldn’t see how I could manage another baby. These anniversary dates can be so hard.

We’ll talk here about some of those emotions and how to navigate Mother’s Day if you’re unsure about how you feel or just want to run and hide that day. We’ll also give you a few tips on how to approach the holiday with someone close to you who is struggling after abortion.

1 – EMOTIONS AROUND MOTHER’S DAY VARY WIDELY 

There are a wide variety of emotions and feelings that can follow abortion experiences. Sometimes these show up right away and other times, they take weeks, months, or years to appear. And for some women, they don’t ever appear. 

These are some common emotions following abortion: 

  • Relief
  • Grief
  • Regret
  • Anger 
  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Loneliness 
  • Depression

If you’re feeling any of these emotions, it’s normal. Perhaps you feel like some of these clients:

– At first I was fine after my abortion and went back to my everyday life. But then feelings of regret and guilt hit me. I thought I made the best decision I could, so I was surprised and shocked to feel regret. I feel empty and like what’s the point of life now. – Client

– I feel regret, shame, and darkness around me. I put on a happy face, but inside I wanted to cry all day. My friends don’t understand, and I don’t want to tell my family. So I feel alone. I function daily and act like everything’s fine, but I am not okay. – Client

– I’m experiencing major waves of grief over my abortion. It’s affected me so much. I feel so depressed. – Client

– I feel empty, sad, and angry. I was dealing with a divorce, abusive ex, and single parenting two other kids. It broke my heart, but I felt I had no other choice. I still feel so alone. I don’t want to resort to substances to cope. I need to talk to someone. – Client

If you want to talk to someone confidentially about how you’re feeling or just need a listening ear, you can always reach out to our After Abortion Line by online chat, text, phone, or through Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok messaging.

2 – MOTHER’S DAY AFTER ABORTION WITH KIDS AND FAMILY CAN BRING MIXED EMOTIONS

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 60% of women who have an abortion are already mothers with “one or more children.” 

They’ve likely celebrated Mother’s Day at least once, sometimes many more times. They’ve maybe received sentimental gifts from their kids and/or partner. If they are feeling regret, anger, depression, or any other negative emotion after their abortion, celebrating Mother’s Day could end up being truly a dreaded day. 

Mother’s Day, for them, can come with very mixed emotions. They may want to celebrate Mother’s Day with their children, but feel regret about their child(ren) not with them. Whatever they are feeling is valid. Again, after-abortion emotions can vary widely. 

One mom shared:

I don’t know how to manage Mother’s Day this year. I have an older child as well, but I just feel depressed thinking about celebrating. I was going to make a cake, but I’m not sure I’m up for it. 

Another talked about emotionally challenging family events:

– The first Mother’s Day after my abortion was more triggering than I thought it would be. My family supported my decision. But that Mother’s Day, they celebrated together, and my sister announced her pregnancy. While I was happy for her, watching everyone’s excitement for her made me feel sad. I wish I had a support group to talk about how this heavy, life-changing decision stays with us.

3 – MOTHER’S DAY AFTER ABORTION AT CHURCH CAN BE CHALLENGING

Many churches have special prayers and acknowledgements for mothers on Mother’s Day, which always falls on a Sunday. One woman shared that for years after her abortion she avoided church on Mother’s Day because the joyfully-spoken request for all mothers to stand and be recognized was too painful. 

For women who practice a faith, they may feel lost when it comes time for that mother’s blessing at church. Do they stand up and be acknowledged as mothers even if they don’t have children with them? Do they want to deal with questions from fellow churchgoers asking where their kids are? 

Or do they feel sorrow about their abortion experience and inwardly cringe when a blessing is given to seemingly happy mothers around them? 

What about when blessings and prayers are given to women who have lost babies through miscarriage or stillbirth, but abortion is never mentioned? 

Mother’s Day can be a minefield for women who have experienced abortion, especially in churches on that Sunday. For women who have experienced abortion, we see you and acknowledge your emotions. They are valid. 

And for those in churches who give blessings on Mother’s Day, offering prayers for all women who have suffered reproductive loss of any kind can go a long way towards offering healing for women who have experienced abortion. They need to be seen and prayed for also. 

4 – AVOIDING MOTHER’S DAY MAY NOT BE THE HEALTHIEST OPTION

Avoiding Mother’s Day altogether may not be a sustainable solution to the complex emotions many individuals face, particularly those who have experienced abortion. While society’s attempts to be sensitive are well-intentioned, they risk perpetuating a culture of avoidance rather than encouraging healthy processing of emotions. An example of this trend is the recent surge in emails offering the option to unsubscribe from Mother’s Day content, effectively allowing people to opt out of acknowledging the holiday altogether. 

However, by offering such opt-out options, we may inadvertently discourage individuals from confronting and processing their feelings surrounding Mother’s Day, including those related to abortion. Perhaps instead of avoiding sensitive topics and times, we should strive to create spaces and conversations where people feel supported in exploring and navigating their emotions in a healthy and constructive manner.

Talking about these feelings more openly can help others realize that they are not alone. The need for such connections is evident in these queries on a chat board:

– Does Mother’s Day make anyone else feel weird after their abortion? I feel sad that I won’t be “celebrating” Mother’s day… ever… because that baby is no longer here and I am no longer going to be his mother. I feel like I don’t have the right to be sad or feel these emotions.

– Is it wrong that I want to celebrate Mother’s Day even though I chose to terminate? I still love my angel baby, but it wasn’t the right time. 

– I didn’t expect Mother’s Day to trigger my feelings about my abortion, but it did. I know I made the best decision I could, but it still hurts. Anyone else feeling a bit triggered?

– I haven’t planned anything for my mom yet and I feel guilty, but I also cry every time I think about Mother’s Day since my abortion. Honestly I just want to spend it crying in bed instead of pretending to be happy. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to cope or what I can do to honor the baby? Should I even try, or will that make it worse?

5 – IDEAS FOR COPING WITH MOTHER’S DAY AFTER ABORTION

If you have experienced abortion, and if you are going through negative emotions about your experience(s), how do you navigate Mother’s Day? 

One of the best ways to handle Mother’s Day if you are approaching that Sunday with trepidation is to get ahead of it. Make an appointment with your mental health provider. Give us a call or text at Support After Abortion. Talk to a trusted family member or friend who can just listen to you. This can all help to put you in a better spot mentally and emotionally as Mother’s Day approaches. 

One woman who experienced abortion and went through one of the healing programs offered by Support After Abortion said, “A part of me would really love to do something to celebrate Mother’s Day, but I don’t know what that would look like exactly. Maybe this year I’ll plant a flower or do something to memorialize my baby in some small way.”

Some suggestions offered in online sharing forums include:

– I spent my first Mother’s Day since my abortion getting a new tattoo in memory of my baby.

– I buy forget-me-not flowers on Mother’s Day.

One woman offered coping tips like relaxing in a bath, enjoying a favorite treat, doing a random act of kindness for someone. She ended with, “No matter what you choose to do, I hope it brings you some joy and peace!”

And this woman’s post illustrates the struggle:

– Does anyone have tips on how to handle Mother’s Day? The first Mother’s Day after my abortion was really bad for me. I went out of town with a friend for the weekend, but it didn’t help. I’m trying to decide how to handle it this year. I’ve decided not to spend it with my mom because I don’t want any reminder that it’s Mother’s Day. Should I just treat it like any other Sunday? Should I turn off my phone and avoid social media? Should I spend it with friends? 

For those who have not experienced abortion but who may be close to someone who has, it’s okay to ask them how they would like the day to be acknowledged. It may be to not acknowledge Mother’s Day at all, which is absolutely fine. Or she may want to talk about her abortion experience or take a walk in the woods. You might consider sending a card. Support After Abortion offers a selection of free, printable cards. Everyone experiences abortion differently and sometimes it’s just really nice to know someone is in your corner and ready to listen. 

6 – HEALING AFTER ABORTION IS EMPOWERING

Support After Abortion offers several free resources for anyone – women, men, parents, siblings, grandparents, friends – affected by abortion and looking for help. 

Here is how a few clients described the impact of abortion healing in their lives:

– Reaching out, getting support, and finding healing after my abortions changed my life, saved my life. It was the most important thing I’ve ever done. – Client

– Support After Abortion provided exactly what I needed. They gave me the opportunity to have a safe place where I could share not only what I am struggling with, but also a place to celebrate the hard work I’ve been putting into healing. I finally feel like I am not alone. I am thankful beyond belief. – Client

– I am so grateful for the opportunity to be in the Keys to Hope and Healing group. I have been able to talk about my abortion experience with others who understand me. I was ashamed and embarrassed to admit that I was not ok. Then I found Support After Abortion and called the After Abortion Line. If it weren’t for them, I’m not sure how I would have gotten out of the darkness I was in. They listened and connected me to a virtual group. I am beyond thankful for this opportunity, for this healing journey. – Client

Reach out to our After Abortion Line by online chat, phone, text, email, or messaging on Facebook or Instagram. We offer free, confidential, compassionate support. We can connect you to the healing resource that best meets your preferences. That may be one-on-one, group, or independent; counseling or peer facilitator; virtual, in person, or self-guided; religious or secular; weekend, weekly, or self-paced, etc. Check out our website for information, videos, self-guided healing, and more for women and men.

Keys to Hope and Healing is an introductory abortion healing resource available for women and men, in English and Spanish, religious and secular versions. Resources include booklets, journals, facilitator’s guide, training videos, and self-guided healing for women and men.

DO YOU – OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO – PROVIDE AFTER-ABORTION SUPPORT?

Explore our Provider Training Center and attend our free monthly Abortion Healing Provider webinars, Men’s Healing Matters webinars, and Quarterly Facilitator Trainings.

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