CHAPTER FIFTEEN

 

Should I Tell My Baby
Good-bye?

 

 

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"I felt I couldn't say good-bye until I had said hello ¾ I asked the Lord to reveal to me the sex of my child.  Then I named him.  It gave me a sense of closure to be able to pray to the Lord about Joseph." 

Donna Merrick

 

I

n our culture we practice specific rituals as part of the grieving process following a death.  To tell our loved one good-bye, we may lay the body out for viewing, send flowers, gather family and friends together to comfort us, recount actions and attributes of the deceased, conduct a memorial service, and finally bury our dead. 

            With abortion, culture dictates we "ignore" the death as though it had never occurred.  Those of us who have aborted a baby, face a dilemma.  We desire to formally close this chapter of our lives, yet there is no prescribed and accepted method by which we may accomplish this act of "saying good-bye."  What are we to do?



Is it normal to desire reconciliation with my baby?

 

            The fact you want to make things right with your aborted baby indicates you are truly repen­tant of your action.  Many women, knowing they caused their own baby's death, feel as you do.  You may have sought forgiveness from those you wronged when you aborted and now this one "hurdle" remains before you lay the baby to rest within your mind.  You want to complete the cycle of restora­tion with this most intimately involved person.

            The thought of reconciliation with the baby makes us feel better.  Reconciliation means to set­tle an account or to satisfy a situation.  The baby lived and died without our knowing him.  He really existed, but was unknown to us. Thus, when we speak of reconciliation with our dead baby, we refer to the act of settling things in our own mind.  The desire for "making it right" with your baby is not wrong.  The method you select to accomplish that reconciliation must be carefully considered and chosen.



Does my child forgive me for what I've done?

 

            On the one hand, women look forward to one day seeing their aborted child in heaven, while on the other, they fear that same child will not forgive them.  The fear is real but the object of that fear is imagined.  Just as in an old house which creaks and moans, we can believe in our minds someone is prowling, so we can believe our dead baby is capable of hate or malice toward us.  The truth is there is no prowler.  Likewise, the baby is not waiting to avenge his death.  But imagination can seem like reality to us if we focus on it long enough.  Trust these words from Ecclesiastes 9:5-6: "For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten.  Indeed their love, their hate, and their zeal have already per­ished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun."

            The attempt to seek forgiveness from your dead baby is a way of dealing with your grief and guilt.  You may have acknowledged guilt in murdering your child, but, "It is another thing to come face to face with [your] victim, the one [you] have hurt.  [You] must come to a point of peace with the aborted child, trusting that, before God, [you] have done all [you] could do to right [your] wrong."[1]

            Sometimes women seem more concerned about the baby forgiving them than about reconcil­ing wrongs committed against living people.  We need to keep this in perspective.  We have seen that God tells us to seek forgiveness from those we have wronged.  Always this command refers to living people.  Never are we told to reconcile with the dead.  There is no need for you to seek the baby's forgiveness or to worry if he will forgive you. 

            Fearing your baby keeps you in bondage.  Jesus has made all things right and you should anticipate one day giving your child a heavenly hug. 



I want so desperately to communicate my feelings to my baby.  Why?

 

            The thought of communicating with your baby gives substance to the "ghost" of a wished for memory.  We want to let the baby know he was loved, to hold for a moment that baby in our arms, to tell him we are sorry.  Our mothering instinct, fueled by our guilt, seeks to reach completion for a rela­tionship hastily cut off. 

            You may vocally express the fact that your abortion killed an unborn human being.  Yet you may find the mental knowledge has no emotional reality for you.  In order to help you come to grips with this, someone may encourage you to hold a doll and tell it what you want your baby to hear.  A doll cannot provide the fulfillment you seek.  Fantasizing merely creates a dangerous illusion.

            Although the desire to express your feelings to the baby is normal, you must come to under­stand those same feelings are one-sided because the baby is beyond the emotions and reactions of mortals. 

            Hebrews 11:1 tells us faith is the evidence of things not seen.  Your faith in the unseen Christ allows God to forgive you all your sins.  Faith that God is caring for your child without you ever having seen him permits you to let the baby "rest in peace."

            Trying to establish a relationship with your dead baby is wrong because you are refusing to accept your baby's death.  Relinquish that child to the Father's care. 

 

 

What are the methods for saying good-bye?

 

            Suggested methods fall under two categories: Physical actions include writing letters, hold­ing memorial services, and using dolls as baby substitutes.  Mental exercises include assigning attributes such as sex, hair color, or features, giving the baby a name and birth date, and visualiza­tion.  Each method serves as an aid for you to use to reconcile your abortion experience in your own mind.  The intent is good ¾ to help you close this chapter of your life.  However, the benefits of most of the procedures are doubtful, while other procedures are downright harmful. 



What would my child have been like had I not had an abortion?

 

            People have distinct identities and attributes.  Questions regarding the physical attributes of your unborn baby are normal.  Would it have been a boy or a girl?  Would it have looked like you or the father?  What color would his hair have been?  When would he have been born?  You may believe that knowing will draw you closer to your child, give you a sense of closure, and make the baby more real.

            You can convince yourself of virtually anything.  You may even feel better, but that doesn't indicate the problems have been dealt with and resolved, because feelings are not always accurate indi­cators of true conditions.  For instance, you can absolutely convince yourself your baby was a boy.  You can believe it.  You can name "him."  To you, your baby was a boy.  In reality it may have been a girl.  The fantasy is real for you.  But the reality is contrary to the fantasy.  The reality is you may not know the sex of your aborted baby.  Period.  Why spend time and energy creating an illusion that can­not help and will only harm you in the long run?

            The truth is, knowing what your child would have been like is not possible.  One of the con­se­quences of abortion is that it negates you having a relationship with your child on this earth. Many women feel the need to assign physical attributes and birth dates to their aborted babies.  Fantasizing his physical attributes or personality can only keep the baby alive in your mind.  Part of our loss is not knowing the details of our baby's appearance and personality.   What you need to do is trust God and ask Him to put these questions from your mind. 



Should I name my baby?

 

            Many women find naming their baby helps to identify him in their own mind as a "real" per­son.  Because the baby is dead, a name does not matter to the baby.  My baby has a name only because I carried him for nearly six months prior to the abortion and had selected a name for a baby to whom I had anticipated giving live birth.  I never think of him by name.

            Please be careful you don't use his name to  keep your baby alive in your mind.  It is right that his memory should fade gradually and naturally.

            Did you know God has named your baby?  Revelation 2:17 says, ". . . I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it."  Doesn't it excite you to think your precious baby already has a God-given name!

 

 

Will writing a letter to my baby help?

 

            Many women write letters to their baby as an aid to help them grieve outwardly.  Writing letters also help fulfill the need to "get it right" with someone who has died and with whom you can­not communi­cate your regret regarding his or her death.  How many times have we wished we had said something, or done something, to or for people while they lived.  At their death we regret our acts of omission and commission done during their life.  However, once the person is gone, we have lost our opportunity to set right the wrongs.

            If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, God has forgiven you for those wrongs.  Although people in heaven may be able to "tune in" to earthly activities, you must not view your letter as a direct communication with your dead baby. Consciously seeking to communicate with the dead is forbidden by God (Deuteronomy 18:10-13) and Satan will use this to keep you in bondage.

            If you choose to pour out your feelings regarding the wrong you did to your unborn baby in a letter, just keep in mind that a letter won't change things.  Just as a word spoken in anger can never be retracted, so our abortions done in selfishness and/or fear can never be undone.  Apologies can be extended but the wrong can never be undone.  It is essential to realize the letter expresses thoughts you wish you had been able to share with your baby.  Why not write the letter to God instead, telling Him what you want your baby to know.



Does visualization help?

 

            Caution must be exercised in our use of the term visualization.  Synonymous terms include "channeling" and "guided imagery."  This imagery, which the New Age movement advocates, is based on imagination.  Visualization is used to "get you in touch with your feelings."  New Agers believe a positive mental image of a particular problem will promote healing through the power of consciousness.  The action is entirely voluntary and self-induced.  You think consciously in your mind of something you want very much to happen and then "visualize" that event taking place (e.g., you may be asked to "visualize" yourself holding your baby). 

            New Agers view thought as the basis of reality.  Visualization is a technique used to attempt to bring into being something that does not exist or to get something you want without effort on your part.  People will tell you it works.  It may appear to work, but in reality you are covering your problems with layers of false well being, because New Age visualization is based upon your per­sonal experi­ences and feelings.  It is dangerous to you because the entire experience is based upon feelings, which are often unreliable.  In order to heal, we must take steps based upon the Word of God which stands on its own without our personal experiences tacked on.  God is the absolute basis of reality.  Heed these words: "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corin­thians 10:5).

            Because the New Age movement sounds so good, so satisfying, so easy, we can become caught up in it without realizing that the techniques it advocates lead to self-destruction.  New Age imagery produces false hope and is extremely dangerous, because if you "visualize" long enough, your mind will eventually accept falsehood as truth and fantasy as reality.  You don't need to imagine anything to receive healing.  The Word of God promises healing to all who ask (Matthew 21:22).

 

 

Does God ever "show" women their babies?  

 

            Several women have written to me explaining that while in deep prayer they were presented with a "vision" of their child, sometimes in Jesus' arms or holding His hands.  Wendy shares this: 

I was in the chapel praying when I suddenly had a picture in my mind.  My Lord and Savior was standing on a path and He was wearing a long white robe.  With one hand He held the hand of a young girl and with the other the hand of a younger boy.  The non-condemning look of assurance I received from Christ and the waving by the chil­dren as they turned to go hand in hand with Jesus broke me in repentance of my selfish acts.  And this "vision" was the beginning of my healing.  It has taken time (as I believe most healing does) and I don't know if I'll ever be all the way through the woods ¾ but I am no longer crippled!  Praise God!

            I see several key components in what Wendy says.  First, her "vision" was spontaneous.  Second, no attempt was made to communicate with the dead children.  Finally, the "vision" served as a tool to repentance because it focused Wendy's mind on the enormity of her abortions. 

            Because God works uniquely in each believer's life, He may choose to give a particular per­son a spontaneous vision of a particular situation.  The important thing to recognize is that a vision from God would never contradict or add to Scripture. 

            Remember that Satan desires to deceive you and can appear as an angel of light.  He imitates God, with one subtle and vital difference.  Whenever Satan is at work, some part of what he advo­cates will contain a lie. Satan will always try to create doubt in a person's mind with respect to God's Word.  Compare what you have seen in a "vision" with what God declares to be true in His Word.  If there is any discrepancy, your "vision" was not from God.

            Also, be aware of the fact that your own sincere yearning to "see" your aborted baby may cause your mind to present you with a "vision" of your heart's desire.  I believe much of what women are experiencing comes from this latter situation.  It is vital you do not focus your attention or base your healing on receiving "visions."



What about having a memorial service?

 

            A memorial service is held in order to commit to memory someone we have known and loved and is now gone from us through death.  That means we fully realize he is dead and we choose not to continue to dwell on him, but only to recall him occasionally when something triggers a mem­ory which shoots to the foreground of our mind.  Many men and women participate in memorial services for the purpose of giving dignity to aborted babies.  Only you can decide if this activity will help you "bury" your baby. 


Is there a method you recommend?

 

            We have found we can only reconcile our grief caused by our abortions. We can never rec­on­cile with the baby itself.  We are alive.  The child is dead.  Reconciliation can only be accom­plished between two living people.  Seeking and extending forgiveness is an act requiring two peo­ple.  It is not necessary to reconcile with your aborted baby.  Nor is it possible.  You must accept the fact that you did something irreparable in your eyes, but fully forgiven by God.

            The concept of a post-abortion woman saying good-bye to her baby has focused on getting in touch with her thoughts and feelings regarding her baby in order to promote inner healing.  This has become confused with reconciliation (the act of settling differences between living people),  leaving the post-abortion woman grabbing at clouds of misconception.  Continually focusing inwardly on various aspects of our abortion experience or the baby signals danger.  We already know how hor­rendous our act was.  Assigning characteristics to your baby or visualizing him causes you to form "memories" which are not part of reality, but exist only in your mind.  Additionally, focusing atten­tion on a specific event can make the memory more graphic and less accurate.  We post-abortion women must learn to live without our aborted child.  Constant reminders and identifications hinder this goal.  Rather than focusing on our inner selves, we must learn to focus on the God who loves and can heal us.  True inner healing results from obedience to God's Word. 

            You may have utilized some of the methods described here. They may have served as a crutch, permitting you to function in a somewhat normal manner until the wound healed and you could once again walk on your own.  But the crutch itself will never heal the wound.  Only treatment by the Great Physician and passage of time do that.

            I believe the best method of saying good-bye is to pray to God, seeking His forgiveness and committing the child to His care.  Allow God to comfort you and give you peace.  "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).  The baby is gone.  You are still alive and need to close this chapter of your life.

            Nancy Berger wrote this poem which expresses so well the proper attitude in closing this chapter of our lives:


In Memory of a Child

 

Dear Jesus,

I would so much like to know

The little life I took long ago.

Was the little one a girl or boy?

Does my child now bring you joy?

Never to see them laugh or hear them cry

Oh Jesus, they didn't deserve to die.

If someone had told me

About the child inside,

The little one would never have died.

I only thought about what I would do;

I didn't know my child had feeling too.

There is an emptiness deep inside,

And many nights I've [lain] and cried.

I cry for the child I will never see

Until you, Jesus, come for me.

If my child can see from up above

I hope my child will see my love.

The love I withheld so long ago

Was only because I didn't know.

So, Dear Jesus, I want to say,

Watch over my child until the day

The day when I can finally see,

That little child you gave to me.[2]


Your Thoughts

 

 

Before I read this chapter, I had a question about . . .

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In this chapter I have learned . . .

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To resolve my post-abortion trauma, I will . . .

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I need to talk to God about . . .

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A verse from the Bible which helped me in this chapter is . . .

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After reading this chapter, I have hope because . . .

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[1]  Debbie Marshall and Patti Goodoien, In His Image:  A Post-Abortion Bible Study, leader's guide (Open Arms, Colorado Springs, 1989), p. 46.

[2]  Nancy Berger, 1984.



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