By Warren Williams
As a student of Fatherhood Lost I’ve listened to hundreds of men relate their affective difficulties in adjusting to abortion losses. Men grieve privately. Men need action. Robert Frost in his poem Home Burial gets it. Part of the man's grief process is digging the grave.
Don’t carry it to someone else this time.
Tell me about it if it’s something human.
Let me into your grief.
A man can’t speak of his own child that’s dead.’
You can’t because you don't know how to speak. . .
You could sit there with the stains on your shoes
Of the fresh earth from your own baby’s grave
And talk about your everyday concerns. . .
Abortion has its own rules about loss: ‘Support women in their choice, keep it secret and get over it.’ Secret losses, especially those which are permanent like abortion, can keep you from grieving and can be the source of unwanted and unacceptable behavioral change. When describing their experience men often say: I’ve never told anyone about this….
A recently released study of Men’s Experience of Elective Abortion by Rue and Coyle found:
- Abortion is not perceived to be a benign experience.
- An expressed need for counseling is not unusual.
- Ambivalent and painful emotions may be experienced after abortion.
- The abortion decision is often deferred to female partners with concomitant repression of man’s own emotions. His containment of emotion is viewed as consistent with men’s perceived role as one of support.
- Relationships may be stressed by abortion-even leading to an increase in anger.
We know there is pain. We know he wants to overcome. But it’s a lonely secret accompanied by repressed feelings. He doesn’t think he is supposed to talk about the experience. He has fears and doubts. His capacity is diminished. He is suspicious of judgment by the church and God. He reasons there are few options for healing so he remains silent and his lifestyle may result in two definitive behavior patterns:
- The child aborted against the man’s will is described in Prov. 13:12a Hope deferred makes the heart sick…
- The man who supported, coerced, bullied or in other ways influenced the abortion is described in Prov. 28:17a. The man tormented by the guilt of murder shall be a fugitive all his life…
Over 50 Million fathers have lost children to abortion in the US alone, since 1973. That’s the equivalence of the populations of CA, OR, WA, NE, and AZ combined. As the pain increases, he may want to talk. Will you listen?
Both of these types of men have been in my support groups. I have good news. God has given every father who’s lost a child by abortion permission to grieve and hope to be blessed and restored! Matt. 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted!" Jesus made the option of a new identity for all people in His redemptive work on the Cross. He was in the world reconciling us to God.
Here is where we, in the care giving ministry, can shine like bright lights into the darkness of the aftermath of abortion loss. In 2006 several of us who recognized the need for blessing abortion affected fathers began the Men & Abortion Network with the mission to bring awareness and healing to them. On this web site you will find many ministries which have developed healing aids and practical assistance to bless those who are heart sick or living like fugitives from the pain in their lives.
I wrote a training manual "Fatherhood Lost" which can be found on that site which will help each person so inclined to bring blessing to these fathers. Also available is my Bible study: Missing Arrows—which follows a healing track through the Beatitudes can be downloaded for your use.
How do you find these men who are hurting? Get the materials off the web site, study them, pray for God's wisdom and leading and then apporach your church leadership about starting a post abortion healing ministry for men. When you advertise the ministry it doesn’t have to be complicated or long just these words: Too angry too often? Want to talk? Call ___ ___ ____ for a confidential conversation. Or: Is your secret killing you? Want to talk? Call ___ ___ ____. Or make up your own short message.
Let your church know you are available to help them reach out to this group of men suffering in silence. Not all but some, after a few meetings, will admit they have experienced abortion loss. Get permission to visit some men in jail. Some will have had an abortion experience and an outreach like this can bring healiing and freedom, even from behind bars.
In our ministry of reconciliation, we get to remind fathers that they are created in the Image of God—Spirit, Soul, and Body with the identity of being a blessing as a man, a husband, a father and a social steward. No matter what distortions in sexual behavior that abortion has stolen from his identity, God can give it back. With a heart sick or fugitive lifestyle seen through the lens of death, guilt, shame, blame and anger a man moves him away from his identity and call to blessing. The good news is that the loss of your child may have hidden your identity but it doesn’t change your identity as a father nor does it change the identity of your child. He/she is not here anymore but you are. You can be healed and bless others not only for yourself but on his/her behalf as well.
There is so much more I could write and have to say about this but you are ready with these words written to get a good start on your care giving to the hurting fathers—the silent and confused who need their identity restored. God will be your helper, and with Him how can you lose?
Warren has been studying loss and ministering to fathers who have lost children by abortion for many years. He has written a Bible Study and Training Manual, presented many workshops, and spoken at fundraisers on the topic.