A Rising Tide of Grief: The Hidden Abortion Pain of Grandparents
The Rachel’s Vineyard ministry is a vibrant outreach of Catholic Charities and the Office of Respect Life of the Diocese of Palm Beach. They are also becoming a powerful example of how education about the Shockwaves of Abortion can open up new doors to awareness and healing for God’s people.
In October 2014 Respect Life ministry coordinator Donna Gardner joined fellow Rachel’s Vineyard leaders from around the world participating in an internet based seminar from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign on the Shockwaves of Abortion. The Shockwaves of Abortion is a year-long initiative with focus each month on the varied population groups impacted by the Shockwaves of Abortion; mothers and fathers, grandparents, siblings, family and friends, as well as the abortion clinic workers and abortionists themselves.
After the seminar Donna shared the information with her speaker’s bureau so they could help spread this broader vision of the impact of abortion and the healing resources available in their diocese. In 2015 Donna was invited by a parish pastor to share a message about abortion healing at all the masses offered that weekend. This particular parish has a large population of retired women and men. Given the parish demographics, Donna was inspired to draw from the Shockwaves Initiative and focus in a special way on the experience of abortion loss among grandparents.
As she began to share her message with the parishioners, Donna became aware that many in the congregation where deeply moved by the acknowledgement of their grief as grandparents; she could see their eyes filling with tears as they openly expressed their pain. She wondered if this was a coincidence that so many in the congregation were moved by her message. In the next 3 masses Donna discovered the same widespread level of grief openly expressed by the large numbers of grandparents sitting in the church pews.
I shared my surprise with her that the parishioners felt comfortable openly sharing their grief. Donna responded:
“The pastor here has worked very hard for years to establish an engaging and positive pro life culture in his parish that includes the healing message of the Church for those wounded by abortion. This is a safe place for the parishioners to acknowledge this loss openly.”
After the services many parishioners stopped to thank Donna for acknowledging their grief and loss. One grandmother shared with deep sadness that she lost her only opportunity to have a grandchild when her daughter aborted and later chose to be surgically sterilized.
As Donna reflected on the numbers impacted in this parish, she spoke to the pastor about having a special Rachel’s Vineyard program, offered in a support group format, just for grandparents of children lost to abortion at his parish. The priest recommended also speaking to the 5 neighboring parishes, with similar demographics about the Shockwaves of Abortion and their impact on grandparents so they could also participate in the program. In February 2016 Donna and her team will offer this special Rachel’s Vineyard group for grandparents.
The Shockwaves of Abortion are indeed destructive and far-reaching. But as this loss is brought before the healing power of Christ and his Church in programs like Rachel’s Vineyard, we witness the mighty power of the Holy Spirit bearing the fruit of reconciliation and peace to individuals and families touched by abortion loss. Let’s pray for Donna and her ministry and for the Holy Spirit to bless their inaugural Rachel’s Vineyard group for Grandparents.