I didn’t expect that she would be gone by the time I arrived. As I entered her hospital room, the doctors greeted me with, “So sorry for your loss,” and immediately explained to me why and how my beloved 106-year-old aunt had passed away just a few minutes earlier.

According to her aide of eight years who held her hand, she died peacefully with no struggle. As much as my aunt loved and cherished life, at the right time she let go andAt the right time, she graciously surrendered graciously surrendered. As she took her last breath, my brother was on the phone singing one of her favorite songs, as he did many times on his daily calls. My cousin had chanted the Shema to her on an earlier call.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet, “Blessed be the True Judge.” The peacefulness in the room made me realize that everything was in Divine Order. G‑d is present, and is in charge of both life and death.

My privilege and my mission for being there was to be her shomeret, the “guard” for her soul as her body awaited transport to her final resting place next to her beloved husband, who has patiently awaited her arrival for almost 30 years. This is a great mitzvah, not an easy one, and one that I had never done before—one that was elevating, transformative, profound and holy.

She looked so very different from when I last saw her. Prior to the quarantine, my aunt would frequent the hair salon to maintain her short curly hair and to the nail salon for a manicure. Being beautiful was important to her even when she was 105 years old. She looked forward to the free haircut promised by her hairdresser for her 106th birthday.

I guarded the peacefulness I felt around her with prayer, meditation, reciting Psalms and talking to G‑d for the next four hours. This was a holy time, not a time for idle conversation. I received spiritual gifts from this mitzvah and the following instruction:

Find the balance between living out the privilege of the human experience with purposefulness, love, joy, faith and gratitude while also being indelibly connected to what is beyond this world. At her bedside, I prayed earnestly to find that proper balance, to not be concerned about matters that do not really concern me and are ultimately not important but to be more attached to what is everlasting. I did a deeper teshuvah than at Yom Kippur.

Hashem Melech, G‑d is in charge. In the scheme of life, our physical life is very brief and challenging, but we need not be limited to it. What awaits us is the expansiveness of the next world. Being by my aunt’s bedside, I felt the peace, the timelessness and even paradise of the heavenly station of a life well lived.

My Aunt Bernice modeled to me resilience, inner strength and the vibrancy of life itself. The matriarch of the family, she outlived all her siblings by many years, as well as most of her friends. Her mind was clear until the end; she remembered details about people, and she could be trusted to keep confidences. Always interested in others, she would even call me to follow up on my personal challenges as she did with all the people close to her. Because I spoke to her frequently—sometimes on a daily basis—she knew many of the details of my life more than any other person besides my brother. Sometimes, we even kept secrets from him as we didn’t want to worry him. For much of her life, she devoted herself to various charitable organizations and sought opportunities to give to other people.

When you get toIt’s not easy to be old and lose your cherished independence be that old, you know loss many times. Aunt Bernice grieved deeply for those she loved; nevertheless, she was also able to quickly rise to cherish life and the people around her. Even though she was unable to leave her apartment, she told me she was very busy each day. It’s not easy to be old and to lose your cherished independence. It takes great courage to not despair when the prospect of continued decline looms before one. She was a warrior for life until she could no longer be.

In the Ten Commandments, there is a commandment to honor our father and mother so you will live long in the earth. My Aunt Bernice devoted her life to honoring her parents, even at tremendous personal sacrifice to herself. That may be one reason why she merited to live so long. She was also a very good person. She was moderate in her eating and even swam well into her 90s.

These times are challenging for most of us. May we receive strength from Above and from within us to find peace and joy during the limited time we are physically embodied. May we love life and seek opportunities to give like Aunt Bernice always did. I pray that I can grieve like she did with depth and love while also affirming and cherishing the gift of life even more, as I live more purposefully and Divinely connected.