Hi, my name is Renee, though many know me as Susi O Fanabba (read more about that here: https://survivingsibling.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/susi-o-fanabba-vs-renee/ ). While I, myself, never had an abortion, it has still affected me deeply, as I lost a sibling that way. I am sharing my story in an attempt to raise awareness of the pain that we siblings often feel. Among other things I hope this leads to many more resources specifically for us (support groups, retreats, etc). Admittedly, while I’ve known for 7 years that I lost my youngest brother (Joey), it was only about a year ago that I was ready to acknowledge my pain and seek out healing. It was right around the anniversary of the abortion and it was getting harder to keep the knowledge of him practically to myself, as so few people were aware. So I decided to do some research online to see what was available for us and about us, hoping to make some great connections, leading to deeper healing. What I found, or rather didn’t, shocked me. Besides one day of prayer/healing, all the way in New York (I’m on the west coast), I don’t recall seeing much else. I wrote to multiple pregnancy centers/other places nationwide who advertised that they offered post abortive support, asking if we were included in that. Beyond one group in Rhode Island, nothing. My intention is not to criticize, but share what it’s been like for me and some of the other siblings who are seeking connection and healing. I know Rachel’s Vineyard is open to all, but at that time I was very reluctant to share my story in front of post abortive parents. I did not want to cause them further pain, etc. Even now, with many more awesome friends in that category, it’s a bit of a challenge.
I wasn’t ready to give up just yet, so after talking to Julie in Rhode Island, I decided to write out my story and share it with others, in the hope that it would inspire people or lead to more connections, etc. (Here is a copy: https://survivingsibling.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/reflecting-on-my-brothers-loss/ ). Little did I know how far that would go! It has been published on multiple blogs, websites, a book, etc in a number of countries and has led to many great connections, but one of my favorites happened in the very beginning! I had written to Theresa for information on the Day of Prayer/Healing, though I very likely couldn’t make it and sent her my reflection asking if perhaps she would read it and share it with the other siblings there. To my great shock and gratitude, I got an email from her saying that she was so touched by it that she had arranged for a few sponsors to bring me out there!! This was less than three weeks before the retreat, and while very nervous, I was very excited as well. Again, little did I know the great impact this retreat would have on my life.
The morning of the retreat, as I was getting ready for my ride, it hit me, that for the first time ever, I would be in the presence of other siblings, beyond my own, who understood this pain. So overwhelming, especially for someone like me who is not comfortable with emotions, yet it was comforting as well. It did my heart so good to hear others speaking of their trials that I had previously felt so strange for. There were only four other siblings, so we had plenty of time to share our stories. Wow!! I did not realize how much I had been holding back. They all listened with love and only an occasional comment or two. It was such a relief, in a sense, to have that out, but also really taxing physically, as I fought to keep my composure. Afterwards, I felt a strong connection with them even we’d only met a few hours earlier. I am grateful that to this day, we have kept in contact, lifting each other up when needed, etc.
After getting back from the retreat, I was even more determined than before to spread the word about our pain, and get more help available for us. This was a pretty big step outside of my comfort zone, as, among other things, it meant becoming actively involved with the pro life movement which I stayed away from for years after finding out about my brother. I was highly offended by the use of graphic images and felt that they were all condemning my mom. While I have seen some of that, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of support that has been shown to my family and me. They have helped me spread the word and have given me encouragement, having once been shy and new to this movement as well. I am especially inspired by the ‘unconventional’ pro lifers! If they can put up with insults, etc and still persevere in this movement, then so can I!
Since writing my reflection and going on retreat, I have created a blog: www.survivingsibling.wordpress.com , created a facebook page to spread more awareness: Abortion Hurts Siblings And Others, a ‘secret’ group there just for post abortive siblings (which now has over 20 members!), opened accounts on twitter, prolifebook and elsewhere, connecting with so many awesome people! 🙂 And there is way more talk about our pain than there was a year ago. I am feeling a lot more hopeful that siblings in the future will not have to know this difficulty of looking for resources. Despite the fact that there is not much in place for us now, connecting with others in the same situation has brought so much healing! I still have pain, but they have helped lessen it significantly.