In 2004, at the end of April I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreat for healing after abortion. I had scheduled a visit with my parents for Mother’s Day weekend just two weeks later. What was I thinking? My mother knows me so well that I knew I couldn’t hide from her that something overwhelming had occurred in my life. I was so raw from the retreat that I really didn’t want to tell my parents, but I knew that I couldn’t hide it from my mother. So, what to do?
I had never told my parents about my three abortions. Now it looked like I was going to have to break 36 years of silence. I was afraid and nervous. Would they judge me? Would they criticize me for the choices I had made? Would they be angry? Would they reject me?
I prayed hard for days. I asked for advice from others who were walking this healing journey. It was suggested that I make sure my intentions were honorable. I had to ask myself for whose benefit was I breaking my silence – me or them? After all of this, I decided to share my story with them.
On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 9, 2004, we sat down at the dining room table in my parent’s home. I told them that I needed to tell them something hard. Through my tears I managed to share my story with them. I told them that they had four grandchildren in heaven – three aborted and one miscarried. Both of them cried along with me. My father said that he was so very sorry that I wasn’t able to trust them enough at the time of my crisis pregnancies to tell them and ask for their help. My mother sobbed quietly and asked me what their names are.
When I could breathe again, I realized that they hadn’t judged me, they weren’t criticizing me, they weren’t angry. They did not reject me. They loved me even more. And they welcomed their four missing grandchildren into our family.
My mother needlepointed a beautiful pillow with four roses on it – one for each of her grandbabies. She gave me the pillow. She told me that she talks to all four of them on a regular basis. She asks them to pray for their family.
Since 2004 both of my parents have supported my involvement with the Rachel’s Vineyard ministry in Oregon. They have prayed for every retreat that we have had here in Oregon. They have contributed financially to our ministry. They have told me that it is one way they can honor their grandchildren. Their support has meant the world to me.
If they were a bit younger, I think my mother would have gone on a retreat with me. But when I first started my healing journey she was a young 80. Now at 91 and Dad at 93, they continue to love and support the work I do with Rachel’s Vineyard. I am so blessed to have such loving parents and loving grandparents for all of my children.
As a member of the Oregon Rachel’s Vineyard retreat team I have had the privilege and joy of witnessing grandparents attend retreats. Some have come with their daughter and some have come for their own healing at the loss of a grandchild. All of these grandparents found a measure of healing and grace in their lives. They were able to grieve the loss of their grandchildren, and were able to begin the process of forgiving their children for the abortion and themselves for not having supported the unplanned pregnancy. It has brought me great joy to share the pain, heartache, healing and joy of these grandparents. I always carry my parents in my heart during the retreat process, which brings me immense peace. I share some of their stories with my own parents in the hopes that they will also find healing.
If you are a grandparent who has lost a grandchild to abortion, I urge you to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat to find the love, support and healing that will bless your life. If your son or daughter has experienced abortion loss, please gently and lovingly share information about abortion healing programs and offer to participate in the retreat or attend the special services at the close of the retreat weekend with them. Abortion recovery programs like Rachel’s Vineyard can help heal families and repair years of damage.
Susan Swander, Oregon