When my son was 4, he accidently kicked his leg through a pane of glass on a French door in our living room. Deep lacerations resulted in 14 stitches on his little preschooler leg. It has since healed well, but two strong scars remain.
Occasionally, he will comment on the scars being itchy or sensitive. He will ponder about what his leg looked like before or tell me the scars remind him to be more careful. His little boy mind does not even realize that he is stating the most perfect analogy of the scar of loss I have on my own heart.
Initially, when there is a loss, just like an injury, it jars us so completely that we do not feel the pain right away – we just feel shock. Our body and mind are just trying to grasp what occurred. Adrenaline kicks in. We are working to absorb what happened, while supporting those around us. We check off the items on the list to make arrangements and just generally are doing whatever it takes to get through the moment.
Once the shock and adrenaline subside, the searing pain swoops in. The extent of our injury, or loss, is realized and we feel pain, not just in the area hurt, but throughout the entire body. We do not understand how to put everything back together again. We do not foresee anything being normal ever again. The pain is fierce and overpowering.
Slowly the wound begins to heal. A scab starts to form over the injury, bruising occurs. From the outside, it appears it is getting worse instead of better, turning horrid colors of purples, greens and yellows, a constant ugly reminder of what occurred. For a long time, it seems that progress is slow and maybe even non-existent, for we do not realize the rebuilding and healing work that is being done on the inside. We are easily reinjured by unintentional bumps or secondary infections. It seems as though we will never regain our life and we will be stuck in this ugly pain forever.
Eventually, the bruises lighten and then fade away. The scabs crust over and we are left with a scar. We are slowly able to start doing the things we used to do. It appears we are healed. From the outside, it looks like all the work has been done. But while we are functioning once again, there is still this scar, a constant reminder of what we went through.
There are times we wear our scars proudly, proof of our strength and a reminder of what used to be.
There are times where the scar is too much to bear and we cover it; hoping if it is out of sight, it will be out of mind – at least for a moment.
There are times where we are embarrassed by our scars, expecting they should have faded away faster or that they should not be able to be reinjured.
There are times when we are annoyed by our scars as they get irritated and itchy. Something rubs it the wrong way and the pain and discomfort arise all over again.
There are times when our scars need extra protection, so they are not reinjured. We guard our scars to save ourselves from going through the pain all over again.
Over time, the scar of loss may lighten up and fade, but if you look closely, it is still present. The scar forever remains a part of us, a reminder of what was and how far we have come.
Hi! I'm Jessy, one of the co-owners of Purpose + Grit and co-authors of the book Faith Over Fear: Walking Angie Home. I share my life with my husband Kyle, our three kids, Ally, Charley and Rad and our German Shephard, Roxy. You will usually find me with coffee in my cup and paint on my clothes, tackling one of my many projects 15 minutes at at time.