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Counseling and reconciliation for abortion related experiences
Without a doubt abortion can be one of the most traumatic experiences a person can have. Both before and after abortion, feelings of fear, anxiety, guilt, panic and pressure are common — not only for the woman who experiences the abortion, but also for the father of the unborn child, the grandparents, close friends, even medical personnel involved with the abortion. People from a broad variety of religious affiliations (or with none) may experience some or all of these feelings. For Catholics, the pain of abortion is intensified by a sense of alienation from God and Church.
If you have had this experience, we would like to reach out to you with love and compassion. Above all, we want to help you through the healing process.
Project Rachel is a sensitive, private and confidential outreach to any family member touched by an abortion. Sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento’s Family Life Department and the Sacramento Life Center, it is available to people of all religious and cultural backgrounds.
In a safe and positive relationship those who have been involved in an abortion can explore the grief, guilt and sadness that they may be carrying. Through this process they may work toward reconciliation with self, child, family, Church, and God.
Rachel mourns for her children; she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more. Thus says the Lord: Cease your cries of mourning. Wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shall have its rewards. There is hope for the future. Jeremiah 31:15-17
Reactions some people have after abortion
Delayed grief reaction
Inability to feel emotions
Feelings of despair
Inability to shake thoughts of the abortion of the child
Thoughts of hurting self or of suicide
Feeling helpless and powerless
Anger, sometimes directed to the mother or displaced to others
Feelings of responsibility, guilt
Hurt feelings, crushed ego
Disrupted marital relations
Blaming of others for distress
Withdrawal, inability to talk with others regarding concerns
Unshakable feelings of guilt and failure
Thoughts of responsibility
Concern for what has happened
Anger at being cheated out of grandparenting
Feelings of loss, resentment, anger
These reactions may interfere with daily activity, and have a haunting quality. Often sleep and eating difficulties arise. Social withdrawal is common, which can be due to feelings of guilt and shame. Nightmares, hallucinations and/or depression can occur years after the incident of an abortion. The quality of family relationships can be seriously affected.
If any of this sounds like you, please don’t ignore it. By contacting Project Rachel you will be guided to specially trained professional counselors or priests.
Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreats are a beautiful opportunity for any person who has struggled with the emotional or spiritual pain of an abortion. The retreat is a very specific process designed to help an individual experience the mercy and compassion of God. It is also an opportunity to surface and release repressed feelings of anger, shame, guilt and grief. There are many exercises to help someone grieve the loss of his or her unborn child and to receive and accept God’s forgiveness. The retreat concludes with a Memorial Resurrection Service. The weekend will help individuals find their soul and transform the pain of the past into love and hope.
Upcoming Retreat Dates:
- November 30 - December 2, 2012 (Spanish)
- April 5-7, 2013 (English)
- July 12-14, 2013 (English)
- November 15-17, 2013 (Spanish)
Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae:
I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The church is aware of the many factors, which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet be healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the sacrament of reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost, and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living with the Lord. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming ... those in need ... you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.
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