A neighbor of mine passed away recently. I don’t think I ever met him. When we moved into our building, he was in his 80s, very sick, and pretty much bed-bound. I do greet his wife when I pass her on the stairs. We smile at each other and wish each other a good day. The relationship is courteous and polite, but I don’t really know her. I don’t even know her first name.

When her husbandWant to or not, it’s not an easy thing to do passed away, as is the custom in Jerusalem, a sign went up in our building. I knew that I had to stop by to visit her and her children during the shiva—the initial week of mourning. I say I had to, but I wanted to. Whether I know them or not, they are my neighbors and I wanted to do the mitzvah of comforting mourners.

So I left my home and took a deep breath because want to or not, it’s not an easy thing to do.

I went during visiting hours, but there were no other women there when I arrived. As I sat alone with this man’s wife, it felt, well honestly, really awkward.

With nothing to say, and without any obligation or need to say anything at all (if anything, you are not supposed to initiate conversation at a shiva home; the objective is to come, be present with compassion and empathy, and if needed, to listen), I sat there and allowed myself to be uncomfortable. I sat with her in silence, and I listened to her when she felt the need to talk.

An interesting thing happened. I felt at peace with my awkwardness knowing that it was completely and totally appropriate. I felt good about what I was doing. After sitting with her for a while, I said the customary sentence that one says at a shiva, “May the Almighty comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” Then I got up and left.

When I returned home, one of my son’s asked me: “Mommy, how was it?”

“Well, it was uncomfortable. But that’s normal. I don’t even know them, and that in a way made it even harder, but I am so glad that I went.”

As I continued through my day, my thoughts kept going back to the shiva, how I felt, and how it was, I think, so normal to feel that way.

Later that evening, I saw a client who was two months postpartum. She was very stressed. My antennas are up when I speak with postpartum clients. I observe closely. How are they adjusting? How do they feel? Are they sleeping? Eating? Getting some fresh air?

She was particularly stressed. Why? Because she didn’t look or feel as she did before her pregnancy.

Again, I repeat that she was a mere two months after birth.

I completely and totally understand her. I can relate, but this ... this is not normal.

And yet, I notice more and more how women tend to be stressed about being appropriately stressed. I’m not just talking about women after birth. It’s women in any of life’s normal, stressful or exhausting situations.

What I mean is that for some reason, we are getting the message that something is wrong if you feel sad, down, awkward, frustrated or uncomfortable, even if it is perfectly normal to be feeling that way. Something is wrong if you can’t physically or emotionally handle yourself in the same way, all the time, in each and every one of life’s stages. It’s not OK to look and act differently when you’re pregnant or after birth. It’s not OK to get older or look older. You are supposed to the same all the time, all year-round.

But that’s simply not true. And it’s not the way of the world that G‑d created.

How can one heal or be happy or recover if we don’t allow ourselves the time, space or energy to be, and accept where we are at?

As the wise King Solomon explains:

Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven. A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break and a time to build. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time of wailing and a time of dancing. A time to cast stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. A time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away. A time to rend and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.1

During the holiday of Sukkot, which the Torah describes as the “holiday of joy” and the holiday in which a person dwells not in their permanent home, but in the temporary dwelling of the sukkah, there is a custom to read from the book of Ecclesiastes.

I think I may haveHappiness is knowing that this moment is temporary insight into why we read this during Sukkot. Maybe it’s because happiness is just allowing yourself to accept and be in the moment. Happiness is peace of mind and knowing, “This is what G‑d wants for me right now. This is what He wants me to be doing or not doing, feeling or not feeling.” Happiness is knowing that this is just a moment in time. It, like the sukkah, is temporary.

Happiness is accepting those stressful or difficult moments and being in the moment of the joyous ones. It’s not worrying about tomorrow, or going over and over again in your mind what was and is no longer.

It’s holding on to “This, too, shall pass.” Or to “I must enjoy this while I have it or feel it.”

Happiness is understanding that yes, this world is a temporary dwelling. I will make the most of my present situation and where I am now.

Happiness is being in the sukkah and just sitting ... just being in the moment.