A year ago, both my husband and I were unemployed and newly-wed. I needed a job, and fast, so I did not have the luxury of looking for a job that matched my goals and my vision of where I wanted my career to lead me. Due to the immediacy of the situation, I took the first job that I was offered: service coordinator at a retirement community.

I experienced a mixture of relief and a feeling of loss when I accepted the job. I was relieved that, with time, my family's financial situation would improve, while also feeling that by accepting the job, I would have responsibilities that I was not sure I wanted and would need to put myself, both emotionally and physically, in a place I wasn't sure I wanted to be.

I experienced a mixture of relief and a feeling of loss One morning, as I begin my shift, I knock on the door of a resident's apartment. No answer. I knock again; still no response. I use the master key to unlock the door. I enter and call out the resident's name. I am met with silence. I walk through the living room into her bedroom. I find the resident's dead body lying on the bedroom floor. Terrified, I turn to leave the apartment to get help. As I am exiting the bedroom I see a suicide note taped to the bed frame. In those few moments my life changed forever.

Why had I been walking by the front desk at the exact time that the call came in informing staff that a resident had not put out her door tag? And why did I offer to answer the phone for the receptionist and go upstairs to check on the resident when I was on my way out the door to prepare for a program that I had scheduled for later that day? These questions played in my mind like a broken tape. However, at the core of my being I knew that I was the person that G‑d had intended to find the suicide, and that this tragedy could be my impetus for changing my life— if I would allow it.

On the day of the suicide I left work early, went home and got into bed. I was emotionally numb and physically exhausted. However, with the arrival of nighttime the numbness melted and was replaced with fear. I was afraid to go downstairs in my home, I was afraid to go to bed alone, and I was afraid of the dark.

The next day at work I had a difficult time staying focused. I left work at three in the afternoon and came home and slept. I awoke feeling a mixture of depression and disconnect from life. I called my husband at work and told him that I thought that there was something wrong with me, and that I needed to talk to someone about what I experienced the day before at work. My husband found a number to a crisis hotline. I called the hotline and spoke with a therapist about my experience from the previous day. The therapist told me that it sounded as though I was in shock, which was quite normal considering what I had been through. She said that the hotline would send a different therapist to my home that evening so that I could "debrief" about the suicide.

I was in shock That evening the therapist that I met with confirmed that I was in shock. She recommended that I begin therapy as soon as possible and that I should take some time off from work. The therapist left my house after midnight. That night my sleep was haunted by a succession of nightmares in which the dead resident was trying to kill me. When I awoke, it was clear to me that I needed help. The following day I made an appointment with an Orthodox Jewish therapist. Five days later, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression.

At work I was put on a thirty-day unpaid leave of absence due to my anxiety. My boss told me that I should use that time to think about whether or not my job as service coordinator at the retirement community was a good fit for me, since death was part of the job. I was also informed that in order for me to come back to work I would need to provide a note from a doctor saying that I was emotionally able to do my job.

As the days and weeks passed I became increasingly dysfunctional. I had frequent nightmares in which I woke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. I had panic attacks everyday and became terrified of leaving my home. I considered it a triumph if I was able to leave the house to go to the grocery store to buy my daughter's lunch for school. An unspecified fear had attached itself to me and followed me wherever I went. I felt as though my life was unraveling.

Therapy became my safe haven. I felt comforted and cared for while in session with my therapist. Everyday I prayed to G‑d that I would be completely healed emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I was willing to go through whatever pain was necessary to get through to the light that was awaiting me at the other side of this ordeal. If it would take a breakdown for me to get to a breakthrough then I was willing to undergo it.

It was clear I was not going back I began taking an antidepressant. It took a few weeks for the medication to reach its full effect. However, with time my anxiety began to dissipate and I was able to make great strides in therapy. As I began to feel stronger, my therapist and I began exploring my potential career options. It was clear that I was not going back to my job as service coordinator. I had experienced enough pain and suffering during my time as a social worker and I was ready to experience joyful and creative work.

I had become filled with a mental and physical energy that I had never experienced in my life. More often than not I had a feeling of over all well-being that continues to this day. I began substituting at Jewish preschools and found the experience of working with children to be healing, joyful, and incredibly meaningful. For the first time in my life I actually looked forward to going to work instead of dreading it.

Through the course of therapy, I realized that when I took the job at the retirement community I had given up on my dreams of what I wanted for my life. Before working there, my vision of my life was as a writer and speaker. However, by taking a job that I had not wanted, I had lost my spark and convinced myself that I had nothing important to say or offer to the world.

One day in therapy I mentioned how much I loved to write and that I had written a children's book that I had tried to get published, but as of yet had not met with success. My therapist suggested that I give writing workshops. She said that I could help other women by using my creativity and my voice. That session was a turning point for me. I realized that I had something to offer the world, and I wanted to use my writing and my voice for the benefit of Jewish women. After that session I had, and continue to have, a direction in life. My voice and talent are becoming my own.

It took something as dramatic as finding the body of someone who committed suicide for me to wake up to the beauty and possibilities in my life. Not only do I dream again about the wonderful things that I can accomplish in my life, I have also come to realize the fulfillment I receive from the "little" things, such as hugging a child, helping my husband paint the deck on a beautiful fall day, and making a pot of soup for my family.

I am grateful that my Creator did not give up on me when I was falling apart. With great love and care, He rearranged the pieces of my puzzle to create a clearer, happier, and more vibrant picture of myself and my life.