"I crush you and I heal you" (Deut. 32:39).

Once, a few weeks before Passover, I was hit with a bout of vertigo. My doctor could find no reason for the problem, which left me dizzy, tired and off-balance. She said it could be permanent, or it could disappear as suddenly as it had appeared. In addition to trying various non-conventional remedies, I decided to treat the problem as I have dealt with many grief experiences in the past, i.e. divert my attention and maintain my regular schedule of activities to whatever extent possible. Yes, the illness influenced me, but I did not want to let it define me. Getting through the day on what felt like an unsteady boat tossed by high waves was not easy. It took extra effort to stay focused when talking to people. While shopping, I bumped into a couple of glass doors that I didn't even see. Twice, I fell down a flight of stairs, but thankfully broke nothing. I learned to juggle; to rest and respect the illness, yet to stay disciplined. After about a month, the symptoms began to fade until I was left with only lingering traces of this unwelcome visitor.

I often use this example with people who are grieving a loss. Whether we are dealing with sudden grief, due to the loss of a loved one, a job or a home or on-going grief due to abuse, chronic illness or the loss of a dream, a broken heart requires time to heal. And sometimes, that takes an entire lifetime.

King Solomon said, "No man dies with even half his heart's desires fulfilled" (Midrash on Ecclesiastices 1:13). This means that we are all grieving our own particular losses. I imagine that I have a "box" in my heart where I put my own unfulfilled dreams. After all, we all get battered, betrayed, abandoned and abused at times. The greater the loss, the harder we must fight on two fronts: a) to stay physically functional and b) to strengthen our faith.

Perhaps the hardest thing about grief is that we have no idea it will strike or how long it will last. Seeing others with whatever it is that we do not have or hearing a favorite song can trigger intense grief. As we struggle to stay afloat, people around us expect us to continue to chat politely and act normally just when we are feeling least polite or normal. It's like walking on prostheses instead of having functioning legs.

Any loss, especially one involving the loss of love, independence, structure or identity, causes a temporary loss of balance—physically, emotionally and spiritually. Perhaps the hardest thing about grief is that we have no idea it will strike or how long it will last.The body does not want to move. Moments of acceptance are interspersed with emotions that range from apathy to rage. Acts which we did so spontaneously, from brushing our teeth to preparing a meal, suddenly take enormous effort. The words of prayer, which once touched us so deeply, may suddenly seem empty and meaningless. We may feel wooden and robot-like, as if all vitality has been drained from our bodies. We wonder when we will "get back to normal," not realizing that "normal" will now have a new definition and that it takes time to adjust to living with pain.

This process cannot be forced. People often wonder, "Why can't I just snap back to my old self?" But this is not what G‑d wants. He wants us to use the pain to develop a deeper level of faith and gain understandings we did not possess before. We must allow ourselves to feel the pain in all its intensity and, at the same time, honor our new strengths. If not, we are likely to want to drown out the pain with emotion-deadening pills or engage in other forms of escapism.

One reason that this adjustment period takes time is due to the fact that when the nervous system suffers a shock, the body is flooded with stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones destroy cells in a specific area of the brain which controls memory and focusing. It takes two years for these cells to regenerate after a severe shock, such as a sudden death, betrayal or other major loss.

Anyone who has ever had an operation remembers that dreaded moment when the nurse walked in and cheerily said, "Time to get off the bed!" When we looked at her in disbelief, she said, "If you don't move, your lungs and muscles will suffer." Then she gently and compassionately (hopefully!) got you up and moving. This is the same process we must do with ourselves – respect our limitations, while pushing ourselves forward.

The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is very helpful in dealing with grief. With this technique, we first acknowledge our feelings and then we repeat positive and empowering words over and over (hundreds of times a day!) to strengthen our faith as we learn to adjust. Here are some EFT thoughts:

1. LET GO: Tell yourself, "Although I want this pain to be over already, the healing process is not within my control. G‑d decides how long it will take. My job is to 'Trust G‑d and do good' (Psalms 37:3). If I do my work, He will heal me at the rate He thinks is best."

2. MAKE A PLACE IN YOUR HEART FOR THE PAIN: Tell yourself, "Even though I fear that I will always feel broken and miserable, I choose to make room in my heart for faith and gratitude, even if I can only manage 1% at a time."

3. DO NOT LET THE PAIN DEFINE YOU: Tell yourself, "Despite the pain, I choose to accept my pain, yet not be defined by it. I am greater than this grief."

4. BE PATIENT. Tell yourself, "Despite my stormy emotions, I choose to face the inner turbulence with faith and tranquility, knowing that I have within me all the healing resources I need to use this trauma for self-transformation."

5. STAY ACTIVE: Tell yourself, "Despite my fears of going insane and being trapped in sorrow, I can, at any given moment, think a positive thought or do an act of kindness or self-control which will reveal my inner strengths and build my sense of identity and self-worth."

6. WORK ON 1% TRUST AT A TIME: "Even though I don't understand why this happened and feel so distant from G‑d, I choose to build my faith bit by bit, 1% at a time, trusting – just 1% – that this is for my best and highest good and that G‑d can heal my heart, for He is the healer of broken hearts (Psalms)."

7. FEEL LOVED: Tell yourself, "Even though I am upset that I'm not getting all the love and understanding I want from people, I choose to know that only G‑d can provide consistently reliable love and that He can fill me with love this second."

8. FEEL GRATEFUL: Tell yourself, "Despite the pain and bitterness, I choose to be grateful for the smallest goodness in my life. I can look around whatever room I am in and think of the possessions I am grateful for or be grateful for every part of my body that is working or be grateful for any moment of pleasure, no matter how empty and meaningless it seems in comparison to the enormity of my grief."

If you are grieving a loss at this time, remember that all pain, whether physical or emotional, is an opportunity to develop self-discipline and faith. Notice all the little "victories" you have during the day which prove that you are courageous, kind and responsible. You will have brought greater light into your life.