After eight weeks of pregnancy, my second ultrasound confirmed my fears: there was a sac, but no heartbeat or fetus. A blighted ovum, a miscarriage. My heart sank.

Now, I have to explain to you that I am Mrs. Natural. Not only is it my lifestyle, as far as eating healthfully and exercising, it’s what I do for a living as a reflexologist, massage therapist and doula. I don’t like pills or drugs, and am somewhat afraid of hospitals. The thought of having a medical procedure to remove the sac terrified me. So I tried everything. I There was a sac, but no heartbeat or fetustried herbs and castor oil packs. I went to acupuncture and did reflexology. I went running and mopped my floors with vigor. Nothing worked. I just kept feeling more and more nauseous and tired.

By now I was 10 weeks into this nonexistent pregnancy, so I finally succumbed to the procedure. I told my husband, “I tried everything, and ironically I find myself in the exact place where I didn’t want to be. I tried to run away from it, and I’m here.” I was fasting, since the procedure would be done under general anesthesia. I was hungry, tired and very frightened. When my turn came, I whispered a prayer as I drifted off to sleep . . .

A strange thing happened after I woke up. I felt so so much better. Not just because the nausea was gone, but because I felt a sense of acceptance, a sense of “this is truly from G‑d.” I had tried everything to do it one way, and it was simply not His will. I felt a sense of growth and a sense of true closeness to Him. Part of me also questioned, “Why didn’t you just do the procedure two weeks ago and save yourself all this heartache and pain?” But I knew that I had to go through that process. I needed the clear revelation that this was G‑d’s will. I needed to transform and learn acceptance.

When we left the hospital, I told my husband, “Mazel tov! We had a baby. We don’t get to take home the body, but we were partners in creating a soul, and after 120 years when we are up in the heavens, that soul will be dancing with us.”

And now, six months later, I am fasting once again. But this time the circumstances are totally different. This time it’s Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, and I am not fasting alone. I am fasting with my entire nation. Dressed in our finest, we make our way to the synagogue to pray. The prayer of Kol Nidrei starts. I hear the cantor, see the people dressed in white. The synagogue is packed, and there is an energetic buzz in the room. With emotion, everyone begins the evening service of Maariv. The silent Amidah prayer is said along with a confession. You would think that with all the energy and emotion, all the initial desire to change and improve, that this would be enough. But no, this same prayer and confession is repeated the next morning during Shacharit; after the Torah reading, during Musaf; and again in the afternoon service of Minchah. And on Yom Kippur, there is also a fifth service, Ne’ilah.

As the day goes on, people start to feel more and more lightheaded. By the afternoon, it’s harder to concentrate, and you don’t feel the same buzz as you did the evening before, when Yom Kippur started. And then something very, very special happens as Ne’ilah, which means “closing gate,” begins. The entire congregation is rejuvenated. The energy comes back, and people straighten up. They pray with such emotion and fervor. It’s the fifth and final service, and the gates are closing. You say the same words, the same confession, but after a whole day of fasting, after a whole day of praying and reflecting and—G‑d willing—connecting, you are not the same person standing. And this is what teshuvah, repentance or returning to G‑d, is about. It’s about a process. You can’t skip a stage or an experience. Each step brings you closer and has the potential to make you into a better person.Why are You doing this to me?

This process of Yom Kippur, highlighted by the Ne’ilah service, is a process of a lifetime. It’s a journey that we go through with each test and challenge that we face. It’s not about looking to find an answer to “Why did this happen to me?” or “Why are You doing this to me?” But rather, “What can I learn from this? How can I grow from this? How can I use this to change?” It’s a process of acceptance of that which is beyond our control because it comes from a Higher Source. And no matter what we could have done or should have done, it doesn’t really matter. Because in the end, you have to see where you are standing at that moment and know that whatever you had to go through, it got you to where you are. Now, just ask yourself, “What should I do now that I am standing here? Do I change? Do I reach out? Do I seize the opportunity of Ne’ilah? Do I become a stronger person? A more thoughtful person? A person who can accept, and forgive and go on?” It’s powerful, the process of change. It would be such a waste not to open your eyes to it . . .