Living means facing loss. Some losses, such as losing an item with sentimental value, cause pangs of regret even years later. Other more serious losses, such as losing a friendship, can be a cause of grief for a very long time, even for life.
When the loss is related to pregnancy, often the grief issues remain unresolved. This is the subject of the training day being offered on Friday, Sept. 19, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. "Pregnancy Loss and Unresolved Grief" will be led by Theresa Burke, PhD, LPC, NCP, and Kevin Burke, MSS, LSW, founders of Rachel's Vineyard, a post-abortion healing ministry. All sessions will be held at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Rd., Madison.
The clinical training day is designed for psychologists, counselors, therapists, clergy, social workers, nurses, and pastoral care ministers. However, the interested public is welcome. (See the box for information on registration.)
Workshop topics begin with "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," especially relating to pregnancy losses from abortion. Symptoms such as amnesia, panic, anxiety, and depression will be discussed. Additional workshops will focus on recreating the original loss and "Repetition of Trauma." Men are largely unrecognized as having grief issues relating to pregnancy losses, but recent research will be presented to examine men's reactions.
"Cultivating the Seeds of Trust" has a learning objective of healing relational wounds, among other objectives. The remaining workshops and descriptions can be found by accessing the information online, but include "Probing the Mysteries of the Mind" and "Sharing the Heart of Christ: Safe and Effective Post Abortion Ministry for Clergy and Counselors."
Bringing hidden grief issues to light
Theresa and Kevin Burke have authored several books, including Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion and Redeeming a Father's Heart. They have given presentations across the United States and the world. They are leaders in bringing to light the hidden grief issues following abortions.
This clinical day is not designed to help individuals through the grief process. The Burkes have designed Rachel's Vineyard Retreats to help individuals begin the healing process.
The Diocese of Madison, through the Office of Justice and Pastoral Outreach has scheduled the next Rachel's Vineyard Retreat weekend for November 14 to 16, 2008. Registration information can be found on the Web site at the same location in the inset box or by calling 608-821-3086. All calls are confidential, scholarships are available, and the trained volunteers provide a warm, supportive presence throughout this time of healing.
For those readers who know someone who is struggling with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or a variety of other issues, you can bring up the subject of healing after an abortion simply by talking about this article. It is said that with more than 40 million abortions in the United States, each person probably knows one person who has had an abortion.
You can let your friends and family know that it is possible to be forgiven and to forgive oneself after an abortion. You can also share that the Catholic Church not only welcomes people back, but provides retreat weekends and one on one counseling with priests to help people find their way home.
Susanna Herro is director of the Office of Justice and Pastoral Outreach for the Diocese of Madison.