Friends, Family & Loved Ones
Friends, husbands, moms, boyfriends, partners, sisters, fathers, cousins... Whether the abortion occurred yesterday or years ago, and whether or not you were directly involved in the decision-making process, it is possible to give and get support. Supporting a loved one through an abortion can feel isolating and you may have some questions about what’s going on.
If someone you care about has had an abortion, it might be helpful to know that more than one-third of all women in America will have an abortion in their lifetime. While abortion is a very common medical procedure, it can be hard to talk about. The political, religious and cultural beliefs that surround abortion can make it difficult to tell family, friends or co-workers about the experience.
Your feelings after abortion
You will probably have feelings after the abortion and your feelings may be different from hers. Significant others can feel love, care, pride, relief and hope for the future. Some also feel anxiety, a sense of failure, loss of control, guilt, fear or anger. You may experience several of these feelings and they might differ from what you expected. That’s natural. Your feelings may also change over time.
Take care of yourself
It’s important to take care of yourself physically and mentally. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat complete meals and do the things you enjoy. Try not to depend on your loved one for support immediately after the abortion. It may take some time before she’s able to take care of anyone but herself.
Give yourself permission to take as much time as you need to work through your own feelings about the abortion. There are many ways to do this. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can help relieve feelings of isolation and give you some perspective. Calling the Exhale talkline, writing, reading a book, listening to music, taking a walk or going to the gym can also be very helpful. What’s important is that you find something that works for you, and that fits your life, beliefs and needs.
How to support a loved one
If you are looking for ways to support your significant other, ask her what she needs. If she wants to talk, listen. If she wants to pray, give her room to pray. If she wants to be alone, it’s okay to leave. You don’t need to have all the answers. Try to avoid judging statements and phrases like “you should,” “why don’t you?” or “what you really need is…” Sometimes just being there — and being a loving presence — is enough. If you want more ideas about how to support her, feel free to call Exhale.
If the abortion was recent and you’re an intimate partner: check the recommendations of her medical provider as they relate to sex. And we encourage you to check in with her about how she's feeling; she might have different feelings about sex right now than she usually does.
Last but not least, breathe! Your support during this time is the best gift you can give yourself and her.
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