A time away from your daily life provides an opportunity to deeply enter the grieving process and identify all the ways your abortion may have affected you. Rachel’s Vineyard has a number of powerful exercises which allow you to speak out your grief and sorrow. The exercises help to connect participants to each other, and to the love of God. They also help participants to accept forgiveness for themselves and others.
The retreat is a lot of work, but if you are willing to journey through your grief you will experience healing. You will find meaning in what has happened and allow God to transform your experience into something that gives hope, freedom, and reconciliation.
What does the name Rachel's Vineyard mean?
The name "Rachel" refers to an Old Testament figure. Rachel was written about in the book of Jeremiah:
Thus says the Lord:
In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning, of bitter weeping!
Rachel mourns her children,
she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more.
Thus says the Lord:
Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes.
The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward, says the Lord.
There is hope for your future!
Who runs this weekend?
Our retreat team in Ottawa is a group of eight people including an ordained pastor and licensed counsellor. Some of the team have abortion in their history others have not. But all have experienced a Rachel's Vineyard Retreat processing other issues of grief and loss. All are loving and non-judgmental volunteers. Our site is interdenominational and when requested, a Catholic priest is available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
We volunteer our time freely because we understand the importance of healing
and recovery surrounding the pain of abortion. We respect where each participant is in
the grief process and help each participant move into a deeper level of healing. Our own
faith in the power of God’s love is deepened as we are witness to and part of the miracles
of healing that often take place.
Each exercise on the retreat weekend is an invitation to explore thoughts, feelings,
experiences, and emotions. Nothing is ever forced on a participant. The process respects
different faith traditions and cultural heritages. Participants are invited to share with the
group, but can also process the experience privately within the silence of their own heart.
There is no effort to proselytize or convert anyone to Christianity. A simple invitation is
extended to dialogue with one’s Creator through a very personal and intimate process.
How many people will be there?
At our retreats in Ottawa, we typically have around 9-12 participants on each
weekend. We maintain a small and intimate size to allow each participant time for
sharing and processing the exercises together.
Why do this in a group?
We see abortion as a trauma. This traumatic event is often aggravated by the need
to keep it a carefully guarded secret whereby the toxic and shameful feelings have no
voice. Healing for victims of trauma can be accomplished by establishing safety,
reconstructing the trauma story, and restoring the connection between survivors and the
community. A group context is very cathartic because others who "have been there"; can provide validation of symptoms and a supportive, healing element to the process.
This does not negate the value of individual counseling and support, however, an
experience of group process, particularly when family support can be introduced, often
provides a deeper, more complete level of healing.
How can I learn more about post-abortion pain?
“Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion" by Theresa Burke with
David Reardon is an excellent resource for education on this subject, available through
You can read more about the common emotional and spiritual aftermath
of abortion at The Elliot Institute online at www.afterabortion.org or at the Rachel’s
Vineyard national website at www.rachelsvineyard.org.