Dealing with termination grief

Every woman has the right to choose whether they would like to become a mother or not, and this decision is based on many factors, which include not being financially independent, bad timing, issues with their partner, and not being prepared.

The decision or need to terminate an unplanned pregnancy may not be an easy one for you to make. While some may feel relief at having made the right choice, it’s also normal to experience a range of emotions or feelings before and after. Here’s how to deal with termination grief.

You have the right to grieve

Whether it took place one month ago or years ago, the emotional response to termination differs from one person to the next. People can experience the following feelings:




Remorse or regret (it’s also normal for regret to be combined with a sense of relief)

Loss of self-esteem or self-confidence

Feelings of isolation and loneliness

Sleep problems and bad dreams

Relationship problems

Relief (it’s normal to feel relief after terminating an unplanned pregnancy)

Thoughts of suicide

The important thing to remember is that our experiences will all be different. You can and are allowed to feel grief and feeling any of the emotions I mentioned above is part of the grieving process. Give yourself as much time as you need to heal.

Forgive yourself

The first step is to forgive yourself. Unfortunately, we live in a society that judges women for choosing what we want to do with our bodies and often, this is the reason why some of us struggle to forgive ourselves, after the decision to terminate. It may help to speak to others who have gone through the same experience. You can find support groups online.

Consider counselling

Counselling provides a safe, non-judgmental space for you to discuss your thoughts and feelings with a professional. Counselling will ensure you get the necessary support you need, especially if you’re not comfortable sharing your feelings with friends and family. Your counsellor can also give you practical tips to help you deal with your loss. You can get free counselling by reaching out to Lifeline at 0861 322 322.

Coping mechanisms to avoid

If you find yourself engaging in destructive behaviours, such as alcohol and drug abuse as a means of coping with grief, it may be a good idea to reach out to SADAG Substance Abuse 24hr helpline at 0800 12 13 14 or SMS, 32312. You can also contact SANCA at 011 836 2460.

Finding help

To process the emotions surrounding termination, the support and interventions might differ. It’s a good idea to be open to getting support and intervention. Here are some organisations you can reach out to for support:

Lifeline offers 24hr grief, bereavement and loss counselling and support on 0861 322 322. You can also call to set up a face-to-face counselling session, between 08h00 – 16h00 Monday to Friday.

SADAG offers free counselling services, 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm.  You can contact them on 0800 21 22 23. If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, you can reach out to SADAG on their crisis line at 0800 567 567.

There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, and you may experience a whole range of feelings at once. No matter what kind of emotions you experience, they’re entirely valid. Grief is completely normal and can be difficult to cope with on your own. Don’t feel afraid to reach out for support. Be kind to yourself and take all the time you need.

If you or a friend need someone to talk to, you can speak to me for advice or help here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).