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How to help a friend who's just had an abortion

Options is incredibly grateful to have former clients contribute to our blog.  The following post was written by a former client who, based on her personal experience of abortion, wishes to share ways that friends and family can be supportive when a loved one has a pregnancy termination.


How to help a friend who's just had an abortion

I had an abortion at seven weeks pregnant.  I felt very alone and ashamed of what I did.  Only a couple of people knew what happened, but surprisingly, they acted like it was something you just 'got over' and because I had made that decision, it seemed to them it wasn't of a big deal for me to deal with it. Unfortunately, the effects of an abortion emotionally are not talked always about.  These people had no idea how traumatic and painful (both physically and emotionally) it can be.  After having been through it myself, I thought it may be helpful to provide a couple of pointers for those whose friends may choose to confide in them, and to give you some advice on what your friend may find helpful (or not so helpful).

 

If your friend has opened up to you about having an abortion, you should feel trusted, and should take that seriously.  She probably doesn't feel that she can open up to just anyone.

 

People handle things in different ways, what worked for me, may not necessarily work for someone else, so you need to play it by ear; but here are a few pointers:

 

  • Don't rush your friend into talking about her abortion. She has opened up to you by telling you - that is the first step.  Offer your ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on if it's needed. Knowing someone is there for you is such a comfort.

 

  • Be aware of how you speak to her - be sensitive, and give her time to process her own emotions, thoughts, and opinions about her own personal story.  Don't simply say things such as:

'you need to move on'


'it was just a bunch of cells, that wasn't a baby'


'you never know, you may have miscarried anyway' (yes this was actually said to me!)


These things may be unhelpful and hinder healing, rather than help healing.

 

  • If she is sharing and you are moved to tears, it is okay to cry with her! This shows you are feeling her pain, and that is priceless. You understand it's breaking her heart.  I will never forget the time my friend cried with me and grieved with me. It was a special moment we both shared. But at the same time, don't feel you need to be overwhelmed with emotion to relate to her; just being a loving friend is enough.
  • Offer to be with her on the anniversary of the abortion, or, if she has talked about her due date, offer to be with her on that date.  Suggest a thing to do or a place to go to on that day.  She may not want to, but the offer is thoughtful, and she may just take you up on that.

 

I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions or want to know how else to help your friend/family member/colleague, then please do get in contact with us.  Remember, 1 in 3 women have an abortion, and many of them will need emotional support.

 
 
 

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