Chana and Penina were both wives of the same man, a holy and righteous man named Elkanah. Penina had many children and Chana had none. When it was time to bring a sacrifice in the Sanctuary, the whole family would journey to the Sanctuary in Shilo.

My sister-in-law and I both became pregnant at the same time. She was pregnant with her first, and I was pregnant again after a devastating loss, pregnant with what I hoped would be our third child. We were not close, but we were connected by the bonds of the family we shared.

Chana was heartbroken At that time, Penina would ask Chana "Where are your children?" And Chana would be heartbroken. She would cry and not eat her portion of the sacrificial offerings. When Elkanah saw that Chana was crying, he would comfort her, saying, "Why do you cry and why do you not eat? Why are you heartbroken? Am I not as dear to you as ten children?"

Again, my baby died mid-term, and I went from pregnancy to surgery, to have the now-dead contents of my uterus removed. My husband tried to comfort me. "Look at our beautiful family. We have two lovely children. Isn't that enough?"

Yet, despite the special connection she shared with her husband, Chana was not comforted.

She went to the Sanctuary courtyard, and silently poured out her heart to G‑d.

The day that would have been my due date was especially heartbreaking. I don't think it is possible to process the full impact of a mid-pregnancy loss until one's due date. Until then, I was just relieved not to be feeling so sick anymore. I was relieved to no longer require daily injections. I was relieved to no longer worry about the constant threat of miscarriage.

Yet, when my due date arrived, the realization hit me that there would be no baby. My milk came in nonetheless, despite the months that had passed since the loss. My heartbreak came at a time of great celebration for the family. Our due dates were close. My sister-in-law had delivered a baby girl, and suddenly every conversation revolved around her new daughter, the new grandchild and newest addition to the family.

Eli, the high priest, observed Chana's prayer. He mistook Chana's silent sorrow for drunkenness, and he rebuked her.

I was happy for her and yet, every mention of the baby tore into me, bringing fresh waves of grief until I felt like I was drowning.

The realization hit me My grief was fresh. It was raw. It was part of me. It was also all that remained of the soul that had entwined with mine for several months, not long enough to have been born, but certainly long enough to be mourned. I explained to the family that although I was happy for my sister-in-law, my grief was too fresh and I could not participate in the family celebrations.

Yet I was told that my loss was months ago, and I should not make such a big deal about the miscarriage

Chana answered him "No, my Lord, I am a woman of aggrieved spirit. I have drunk no wine. I have poured out my soul before my Creator."

I consulted with a rabbi whose opinion I valued. I confessed my heartbreak and the "indulgent nature" that my grief was viewed as by the larger family. "What shall I do?" I beseeched him.

"You have a right to mourn," he told me. "Right now, you and your sister-in-law are like Chana and Penina. It is too close to your own loss to expect you to be able to rejoice with her now."

Eli answered "Go to Peace. The G‑d of Israel will grant the request you made of Him." Chana was comforted, and she returned to her family.

While my husband and children attended yet another round of family celebrations I could no longer face, I remained behind, alone in my hotel room. I sought refuge in my prayer book.

"Oh G‑d" I prayed. "It was Your will that women become mothers. It was Your Will that Jewish families be large and vibrant, continually growing from one generation to the next. How then am I to understand why some women, like Chana, are denied the ability to have children at all, while others, like myself, are prevented from being able to continue to bring life? How do I understand why some souls enter the womb, but not the world? How do I face these trials without becoming bitter or feeling abandoned by You?"

My tears stained the pages of my prayer book. Like Chana before me, I poured out my soul to G‑d.

Yet I hesitated to pray for another child. Doctors had helped me twice to become pregnant, yet they could not sustain those lives that had taken root. I prayed instead that G‑d direct me, and show me what to strive for.

I sat alone with G‑d and my grief Across town, my husband sat with his family, while I sat alone with G‑d and my grief. I could not part with my grief, and I was not permitted to make my grief a part of the family's story.

We read the story of Chana and Penina on Rosh Hashanah, when we pray for a good, sweet year. We pray for abundant blessings. Yet I believe there is a lesson in their story, cautioning us that with blessings come responsibility. We are not meant to flaunt them, and inadvertently cause heartbreak and pain to others.

This message is beautifully demonstrated in the actions of a simple woman I once knew. She worked as a secretary in a school where there was a teacher on staff who had been married many years, but had no children. This secretary chose not to display any pictures of her children at work. "I can see my children at home whenever I want," she once explained to me. "Why should I display their pictures at work knowing that it might bring grief to someone else?" Her quiet self-restraint demonstrated how deeply she had internalized the story of Chana and Penina.

Is it possible to truly never cause pain to someone else, especially to those we are close to, like members of our own families? Perhaps not. Yet if we recognize that sometimes our bounty can bring pain to another, we can strive for a higher way of living – for the ability to have and yet not hurt other people with what we have. Surely, like that secretary, we must try to make room for the hidden pain of others.