Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a beautiful fair maid. A handsome adoring prince courted her for many months when she fell in love with her suitor. To show her prince her undying love, she decided to give him the precious gift of herself. The prince at first cherished the gift, but as time went on, lo and behold, the prince decided to relocate to another kingdom.
After his sad departure, the fair maid discovered she was going to have an unexpected surprise in about nine months.
Not wanting to disappoint the king and queen of the land, she secretly went off to a place she never thought she would visit — a dark land with no trees or flowers or happiness — to dispose of her unexpected surprise. When she returned, she was not the same as before, because now she had a hole in her heart. Not wanting to divulge her secret in fear of how the king, queen and kingdom would react, she put her sadness, shame and regret in a box and buried it deep in the ground.
Alas, after a while, the fair maid met another prince — much more handsome and kind than the first. It was to this prince she married and became queen of her new castle, and she was happy. Nonetheless, while a happy queen, she was haunted by her secret box, still buried in the ground. And the hole in her heart ached, and nothing she did could fill the hole.
While this story may have the format of a fairy tale, it is not. The far, far away land is here, and the story is all too real for millions of women during these past 43 years of legalized abortion.
The “unexpected surprise” becomes for so many women — even though buried deep in the ground — the source of pain, shame and regret. Buying into the lie that an abortion would “fix” their problem, women find out, all too late, that it did not.
So what is the fair queen to do now? Is she the only one who feels this way? Will the hole in her heart ever mend? Does she have to suffer in silence? Does she keep her secret hidden so she doesn’t take the risk of being judged?
While the pain of loss is often buried initially, it may be manifested by relationship difficulties, depression or other emotional and spiritual problems.
There is hope for the fair queen. She is not alone. We recognize that all of us have made choices that we later regret. The diocesan Office of Marriage and Family offers a support program called Project Rachel that assists those who have suffered the tragedy of abortion.
Our staff understands that feelings of grief, anxiety, guilt and anger are common not only for the woman who underwent the abortion, but also for the man involved, family, friends and even medical personnel. These feelings are often not recognized by society, so we reach out with compassion and mercy to assist those feeling emotionally and spiritually hurt by this experience.
We offer a confidential telephone number for you to talk with someone about your experience, support from people specially trained to help you sort through unresolved feelings and conflicts.
If you are on a faith journey, we can refer you to pastoral counseling sensitive to your particular needs.
To find out more, please contact Project Rachel at 320-529-4616. All inquiries are held in complete confidence. Project Rachel is a free service, open to anyone in need, regardless of faith, as part of the services available through the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.
May we pray for all those suffering from the aftermath of abortion, the women, men, lost babies and the nurses, doctors and medical personnel involved in this tragedy. May we also pray for our nation, especially as we approach this election, that we discern carefully who will lead our country so we can once again become a land that honors and respects all life, from the moment of conception until a natural death.
Chris Codden is director of the Office of Marriage and Family of the Diocese of St. Cloud. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.