Peeling back the polished surface

By Jennifer Davis Rash

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day weren’t nearly as hard as we had anticipated. They were a little sad last year, but I think Aug. 1 was still harder. That was the due date. As Aug. 1 approached this year, my mind wondered what it would be like to have a 1-year-old right now.

I laughed and cried almost simultaneously — laughed at the image of myself attempting to juggle life as a working mother; cried realizing the loss of a precious life that was miscarried before we knew whether it was a boy or girl.

It all seems surreal to me now. In some ways it is as if I merely dreamed all of it.

Watching the positive symbol appear for the first time — as well as three more times just to be sure — took my husband, Jason, and me by surprise, but once we snapped out of our initial stupor a permanent smile clung to our faces. At least for a little while.

We were about six weeks pregnant when we found out. We got to be pregnant another six weeks before things started going wrong. A week later, we grieved our loss.

That was a year and a half ago. I’ve managed to compartmentalize most of the memories, but the dates on the calendar always scream at me.

And I’m not alone. It is estimated that at least 1 in 5 women have or will have at least one miscarriage. It may be rarely mentioned, but they notice when the anniversary dates come around.

And it goes beyond miscarriages. All losses seem to be magnified on special calendar dates. Children, spouses, parents, siblings, friends, grandparents, anyone who was special in our life — their birthdays, the day of the accident, when the test results came back, the day they died, the funeral. Those days peel back the layers and expose the rawness of our emotions, and we can expect to be more sensitive on those days.

Knowing that going in can help us show grace — grace to ourselves when it is our turn to be there and grace to others when it is their turn.

The only problem is we don’t always know when others are walking through painful seasons. How many broken hearts float by us each day silently struggling to get through the next moment? And how many times are we insensitive by our actions, words or both?

Certainly if we don’t know, then we don’t know, but it’s a good practice to treat everyone with love, kindness and respect at all times because we never know who is going through what. And so many times a person’s actions or reactions may truly be because of the pain he or she has tucked down deep and not because of what is happening on the surface.

If we have an existing relationship with the person who is acting out of character or if we are the one acting out of character, then the easy solution is to talk about what is going on and work through it.

It’s a bit harder when the situation involves people whose paths cross randomly — checkout lane at the grocery store, customer service representative on the phone, reader upset by article you’ve written (yeah, it’s true — I’ve actually made a reader or two mad once or twice).

I don’t always remember to assume something deeper might be happening with a person who is reacting harshly. But when these experiences come, we always have a choice of how to respond.

Tears welled up in one sales clerk’s eyes when I asked if he was OK after he verbally berated me for asking a simple question. I expressed concern. He talked. I listened. He thanked me for calling him out on his attitude and doing it kindly.

6 thoughts on “Peeling back the polished surface

  1. This is a beautiful blog about an issue that is really hard to face head-on, and it is so true. Knowing that everyone is struggling with some difficult situation or loss should help us to give more grace and show more love to others. I’m praying for you and Jason today.

  2. I know this wasn’t easy for you to write, Jennifer, and I appreciate you having the strength to do it. We suffered two miscarriages and several years of infertility. It was brutal, especially holidays and anniversaries.

    We truly never do know what burdens other people carry. Thanks for this gentle reminder to remember and act kindly. Blessings on you and Jason.

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