Grief: The Missing Step in Abortion Healing

Trudy Mae Johnson, Founder of Missing Pieces and author, and Lisa Rowe, CEO of Support After Abortion, identify the missing step in grief through abortion healing. These experts discuss the importance of grief validation, the dangers of dismissing it, and how Trudy’s resource fills in the gaps.

The Importance of Grief Validation
There is little understanding of abortion grief or abortion healing in clinical psychology. Lisa Rowe, a licensed clinical therapist shares, “There was absolutely no mention of abortion in any of my training or education. I didn’t even read a single case study on the topic. Even the manual therapists use to treat people has no reference to the topic of abortion.” Trudy Johnson shares that perhaps the clinical world doesn’t validate grief because the word abortion has become inextricably linked to politics. In light of abortion, clinicians typically don’t seem to see grief as a heart issue but rather as a political one. If most clinicians were able to separate the topic of abortion from its politics, they might be more likely to validate the individual’s grief and need for healing. Lisa agrees, “Because abortion is so political, we are immediately forced to choose a side and therefore can’t meet people in a human way.

The Dangers of Dismissing Abortion Grief
When Trudy Johnson sought healing after her abortion, her therapist not only dismissed her grief but callously instructed her to “Go home and get over it. After all, abortion is legal.” As one might expect, such an encounter left Trudy feeling alienated. Trudy vulnerably shares,

It almost pushed me over the edge. I was already depressed and suicidal. [After my therapist dismissed my grief] my nightmares worsened, and I felt like I was going crazy.

Trudy struggled with her abortion grief for five years before she found an abortion healing support group. Her negative experience thwarted her healing process. Lisa adds, “Despite all our progress with mental health in recent years, the abortion healing movement has been stalled due to its political nature.”

How Trudy Johnson’s Resource Fills in the Gaps
While many clinicians and therapists treat individuals based on what they think is right, Trudy Johnson’s resource, C.P.R.: Choice Processing and Resolution, addresses trauma with evidence-based practices. Trudy’s resource creates a safe place for individuals to open up and share. One unique feature of Johnson’s resource is that there is no mention of the word abortion. She shares, “The word abortion is triggering, political, and condemning.” Johnson also notes she has found it typically takes 9 hours of feeling safe with a trusted person before an individual is comfortable discussing their abortion experience. In an effort to meet individuals where they are in their stage of grief, Johnson coined the term “Voluntary Pregnancy Termination” or VPT to replace the word abortion. The term VPT does not endorse abortion. Instead, the term VPT removes the political connotation and helps individuals to feel comfortable sharing their experience. Once individuals feel comfortable to share about their abortion experiences, they can then begin to connect with the emotions they are feeling. An individual who can connect with their emotions is better prepared for an abortion healing group’s benefits.

If you or someone you know is struggling after abortion, we can help. Contact us. Sign up for a number of virtual healing groups, including a group led by author Trudy Mae Johnson.