Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 17, 1999
Eight steps to healing
By WCR Staff
In helping women to leave behind the trauma of abortion, Project Rachel sees the need for them to undergo eight steps in the healing process:
1. Tell the story.
Allow the woman to tell her story.
"If you're willing to listen, she's willing to tell the story because she hurts that much," said Father Blair Raum, head of Project Rachel in the Baltimore Archdiocese. "She probably doesn't remember it all. Don't probe for information. It's not important that you get the whole story. It's important that she gets to tell the story.
2. Sex of the baby
Determine sex of the baby. Raum said the mother will most likely already know this.
3. Name the child
Ask the mother to name the child. Chances are she already has a name picked out, Raum said. "Naming a child is a parental responsibility. Every child deserves a name."
4. Memorial for the child
Ask the mother to think of a physical way to remember the child. It could be a box filled with baby trinkets or planting a tree dedicated to the child.
"This gives her permission to grieve for the child and a way to do it."
5. Write a letter to the child
This could come in a variety of forms, said Raum, who recalls one woman who wrote a song in lieu of the letter. If the mother gives you, the counsellor, the letter, do not take the letter. Ask her to read it to you instead.
"It's a personal letter between her and the child," Raum said.
6. Inner healing
The three questions the mother will need answered are "Where is the baby?" "Who has the baby?" and "Is the baby alright?"
Ask the mothers about the most painful part of her story. Raum said that as the mothers tell about this experience, they will have seen visions or experienced spiritual messages that their baby is safe and with the Lord.
"Abortion is the breaking of the mother-child bond. That is why I believe this is spiritual."
7. Sacrament of Reconciliation
All the work done up to this point is put into the realm of the Sacrament of reconciliation, said Raum.
"When I lay hands over her, I pray for her own personal needs. When I give her absolution, I give her a release from excommunication."
If the mother is not Catholic, refer her to her own minister of faith. If she is not a member of a particular faith, Raum said he celebrates the Catholic rite without absolution.
A good time to say good-bye and to refer her to a therapist or counsellor if needed.
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