“I can’t stop crying,” the post-abortive woman shared when I asked her if she had been grieving. “I rarely shed tears and feel like they’ve been stored up for too many years. Will they ever stop?”
Many are fearful of grieving after abortion. Tears can arrive instantly or many years later due to the trauma of the abortion event. Others may find that they are suddenly crying for no reason at all and believe they may be losing their mind. Some may never connect their tears to this “choice” because they are working to “forget” it ever happened.
Many ancient traditions embraced “tear bottles” to collect their tears, like the photo above reveals. Pilgrims carried tear-shaped vessels on their journeys. Victorians caught their tears in similar bottles. When the tears evaporated, it signaled the end to mourning. Many tear bottles were made from a lump of clay the size of a human fist, because an individual’s fist is recognized as being the same size as the heart.
Abortion is an obvious death experience but few realize that truth when they make this decision. Society often communicates that if you make a choice to reject parenthood, grief is not necessary. Yet the heart often has a mind of its own where sorrow is concerned.
Psalm 126:4-5 reveals the spiritual benefits of grief – Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy…
Ignoring tears is often the first step on the typical American post-abortive journey. A heart that is full of unshed tears can be out of sync with God’s comfort. Tears draw us close to God. The lack of sorrowful emotions – particularly after the death of a child – can propel us into many other sinful behaviors that can increase our guilt and grief spectrum.
Anger and fear often are an ally in keeping sorrow away. Anger pushes away all thoughts of responsibility for taking away a baby’s breath. Blame shifting is a secondary tool in binding back regret which, when combined with anger, can result in deeper sin behavior.
Biologically, God made shedding tears essential as they are a filtering mechanism of our immune systems. Those who avoid emotions of bereavement seldom realize that this can have a negative impact on our health.
Research is now being conducted using tears as a diagnosis tool for physical ailments. Dr. Steven Harms is on the board of Ascendant DX, a research company that has created a test to detect breast cancer using someone’s tears. Harms shares that, “The tears are kind of a reflection of the blood. Most people have difficulty drawing their own blood but tears are very accessible to people.”
Ascendant research outlines some basic facts about tears:
- They are less complex than blood and easier to study
- Tears have high protein concentrations
- Disease can cause proteins contained in tears to change
- Studies have shown links between cancer and tear biomarkers
- Ocular (eye) tissue is part of the filtering mechanism of the immune system
It’s long been a scientific fact that shedding emotional tears result in special health benefits. As we have discussed in a previous module, biochemist and “tear expert” Dr. William Frey learned that reflex tears are 98% water, whereas emotional tears also contain stress hormones which get excreted from the body through crying.
Dr. Frey determined that emotional tears actually shed hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. His research suggests that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones.”
Grief over an aborted child often is triggered by a subsequent death experience. When my friend and neighbor, Dianne, was murdered in 1990, I had to cry. I didn’t have a choice. Because she died through murder, I would jump back and forth from deep-seated anger against those who planned her death to massive mourning spells.
Each tear that I shed over Dianne’s death reminded my heart of my aborted child. God triggered my mourning for my aborted child, Jesse, with Dianne’s death.
When my father and mother passed away, I cried for not only them, but for every person or pet missing from my life. Each death experience started renewed mourning for every past loss.
Human beings don’t get over grief, we get through it. I never want to “get over” losing my parents because that would mean I’ve forgotten them! Birthdays, holidays and anniversaries of their death keep these loved ones close to my heart. I will work to keep their memory alive in my heart even if that involves grief. The same is true for the child I lost at an abortion clinic.
Societal perspectives impact grieving too. Even at funerals, Americans are rarely comfortable around hearts in deep sorrow. Some mourners can become so overwhelmed with emotion that they cannot speak. Unabated grief can lead to loud and strange noises like wailing.
Those who encouraged another’s abortion decision often work to shut down post-abortive tears because it makes them uncomfortable. The emotions of abortion bereavement often shoot convictions through these enabler’s heart. The post-abortive person then is forced to lament in private without hope of comfort.
If your children are experiencing times of mourning for your aborted child, take time to listen and comfort them. Adult grief can be difficult for children to comprehend. Kids can internalize their parent’s tears to the point where they believe they’ve done something wrong.
At some point, grief can overcome an individual like a wave on a beach. It rolls in, knocks you off your feet, and rolls out leaving you breathless. There is rarely a schedule of when the next wave will hit. Many triggers can spawn tears and it is important to express these emotions when they arrive.
Every tear is a precious part of abortion healing. Jeremiah 31:15-16 relays the particular agony of grieving a lost child – “… A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” This is what the Lord says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy.
It is difficult work to embrace the tears that God places in our body for children that have passed away. But the important work of mourning restores us and gives us hope. While our children will not return from Heaven, by naming them and grieving them, they return from the enemy’s grasp and become part of our hearts forever. We will see them again if we believe in Jesus!