Sisters of Life Offer Hope and Healing for Mothers

Rachel’s Vineyard healing retreats offer the forgiveness and mercy God longs to give us all.

‘Mountain Top’
‘Mountain Top’ (photo: Manop / Shutterstock)

Sheila (not her real name) is a friend from high school. We reconnected a few years ago and naturally updated each other on our lives since then.

She shared that she’d aborted her first child when she was 23, and was never able to have children after that. She wanted to have children when she got married, but lost two babies to miscarriage.

That abortion decision, made so casually at the time and with so little information, is the biggest regret of Sheila’s life.

Mother’s Day is a painful reminder every year. “The weeks leading up to it with all the stores advertising flowers, dinners, gifts … I have to make sure I cover myself in prayer so I don’t go into severe despair.”

Another post-abortive woman, Jennifer, had two abortions in her 20s. No one at the abortion center bothered to tell her how common regret and depression are after an abortion, often continuing for decades. Jennifer was able to have three other children, but often thinks about their missing siblings and how they were taken from them before they had a chance to meet them.

Jennifer says her grief and torment over those abortions were paralyzing for years. Only when she heard about Rachel’s Vineyard healing retreats and made herself participate did she understand the forgiveness and mercy God longed to give her.

“That first weekend on my first healing retreat was just so powerful. To be with these other women who were experiencing the same thing, to be able to talk openly about it like I couldn’t with anyone else, and to really pray for God’s healing … it was definitely the start of releasing it and forgiving myself.”

Today Jennifer helps out in the healing program, giving her testimony and leading support groups.

Mother’s Day is also agonizing for Brenda, who had an abortion in her late teens. “You think you’ll forget about it, but you don’t. It was 42 years ago and it’s still with me. If only I knew then what I know now. I was young and panicking and I just wanted to get it over with. If someone talked to me about adoption I could’ve been persuaded to go that way.”

“Everyone getting together for Mother’s Day, talking about what they’re doing … it was hard for me to celebrate it with my own mother after that or today to say Happy Mother’s Day to my sisters and friends. … It’s like a day of punishment for me.”

One thing Brenda finds cathartic is praying at a Planned Parenthood near her. “The only thing I can do is to try to prevent the same regret in someone else.”

Sister Benedicta of the Sisters of Life is involved with their healing retreats for post-abortive women and men, in English and Spanish.

“Mother’s Day can be such a difficult time of year for women who suffer after abortion, especially if they don’t have living children. Even if they do, it can be a time of deep sadness and refreshed guilt, thinking of the children who are not here. And yet, once they come to know their children spiritually and experience their motherhood of these little ones who we entrust to the mercy of God, it can bring such hope (albeit bittersweet) at this time.”

You can view Hope & Healing talks and testimonies here.