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  • melissakrawecki

Abortion can be grieved. And I am here for the bereft.

Stillbirth, orphan, widow, we have many terms we use to describe the deaths we experience. It is human nature, isn't it? This nearly compulsive need for rationalization and categorization of our experiences so we can understand them. To do so promotes safety and security, it brings a comfort. It also allows us to emotionally cope, especially when dealing with, at times, indiscriminate and incomprehensible death.

We use categorizations and rationalizations that are rooted in our own notions of death. Both of the deaths of those around us, and the thoughts about death we have about ourselves. These notions are formed in our own childhood and life's experiences, and use them to provide a framework for what is seen as a 'good' or 'bad' death. A 'good death' is one that many see as acceptable, at an old age, with time to set affairs in order and with ease. Perhaps the obituary is written with great humour and filled with a knowledge that a life was well lived. Those that grieve a good death are surrounded with support that says "it was his time," or "she was ready to go." A 'bad death" is one that is untimely, and leaves loved ones without a goodbye. These notions of death culture that are not spoken of and are the same things that introduce shame, blame and isolation for those that are grieving a 'bad death.' This is why after your Great Aunt passed away you found out about her many miscarriages or the death of her beloved disabled child in infancy. There can be secrecy, shame and isolation when a death challenges what we think of as a good death. And, yes this includes abortion.

Abortion can be a grieved loss. A wanted pregnancy can become an aborted pregnancy and grieved just as an unwanted pregnancy can become an aborted pregnancy and grieved or not. Abortion is loss. Abortion can look like selective reduction, where grief is complicated by judgement of how a person "should" feel. Abortion can come with a shame and judgement that can be crippling and isolating to the bereaved. It is a loss that comes with it's own journey and oftentimes with far less support than that of those losses that are seen as more understandable. But make no mistake, abortion can be grieved.

The problem with this categorization and rationalization of death is that it hurts the bereaved. It hurts those that are grieving an aborted pregnancy, it hurts those that are carrying the hardest to rationalize deaths of their loved ones for our own comfort in understanding this world. I refuse to prescribe to it a narrative that hurts the bereaved. I refuse to isolate or place judgement on someone's path and think "I can't imagine." I refuse to let my privilege of my experience and judgement stand between someone seeking support and understanding. I know abortions can be grieved. And I am here for the bereft.

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