What image comes to mind when you hear, “She just can’t stop grieving”? A person weeping uncontrollably over the loss of a loved one? While that is probably the deepest and more difficult type of grief we humans face, life is filled with other types of grieving, too.

We mourn myriad things, often without even being aware of it. We can grieve the loss of a job due to retirement, downsizing, or being fired. We can grieve the loss of our youth, the loss of a friendship, the loss of our homes when we move. Or someone making religious life changes who may lose their friends and family.

We live our lives with expectations based on our pastWe mourn myriad things, often without even being aware and present personal experiences. Someone who has been with a company since its inception and has made their way up the ladder from one position to another will likely expect to keep climbing higher in his/her place of employment. If that person receives a pink slip, their immediate reaction may be shock and anger, but later, feelings of loss and grief may set in. The loss is not just the job, but what that job represented: accomplishment, worthiness, security, or any combination thereof.

David Kessler, world renowned for his writings on grieving, worked together with Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross to define the various stages of grief.

The first is denial, followed by anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance. This was what Mr. Kessler believed until he suffered the sudden loss of his 21-year-old son. Working through the stages, he realized that acceptance is not the end of the process. There is yet another stage: meaning. What do we learn from this loss? Giving meaning to a loss is a way to realize that life is not random, or chaotic; there is a method to the madness and a way to grow from it spirituality.

Often, the parents of a person choosing to adopt religious practices that were not a part of their upbringing suddenly feel clobbered. Someone that they thought they knew and understood becomes one of “them” and no longer one of “us.” What went wrong? This upheaval hits them hard; their own kin is strange to them. They act towards them as they do to other strangers and keep their distance. The one adopting a religious lifestyle finds themselves cut off from their closest relations and may not yet be comfortable in the new environment they have chosen. They would need to be made of steel not to feel a loss and grieve what he/she once had—a feeling of love, warmth, belonging and acceptance.

Moving is often mentioned as a struggle. Humans are creatures of habit, and we become attached to our homes—the feeling of knowing where everything is. Both inside the house and out. Knowing where the butcher, dry cleaner’s, supermarket, library and park are. Knowing that the new delivery of fruits and vegetables will be early morning on Tuesdays, that the pharmacy is most likely to be busy between noon and 1:30. Walking into the supermarket and meeting friends and acquaintances who greet you with a smile and a “How are ya?” A move means walking up and down the aisles to find where they stock coffee. To add to the feeling of being at loose ends, you find out they don’t even carry your favorite brand. Small things, but they translate into big transitions.

What is life without friends? It’s like a home with bare white walls without anything to adorn them. They are functional, but lackluster. Friends add the color to our days. When we are blessed with a celebration, they act like a mirror reflecting our joy. And when hard times come our way, they are there to offset some of the dreariness. A friendship is something we invest in and sensitive parts of us are given over to our friends for safekeeping. When a friendship sours or dissolves, a part of ourselves disappears along with the former friend.

This past year, the world has been unhinged from its normal daily ins and outs. Laws and regulations vary from location to location and from one month to another, but just about everywhere life is topsy-turvy. The word “lockdown,” which used to bring to mind prisons, now produce images of families huddled in the confines of their home with their mobility greatlyDo our homes become prisons? restricted. So many of the things we may mourn when lost—family, friends, homes, work, health, vibrancy and freedom—are either threatened or have disappeared. We seem to be hit by a tsunami of loss from many directions. We are cut off from our loved ones and may not feel comfortable in our own neighborhoods. Siblings, the family down the road, the man at the fruit store may or may not be as vigilant as you in donning a mask, sanitizing hands and keeping a distance. Do they become the enemy? Do our homes become prisons instead of a place of refuge?

The Torah relates that Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son, and this earned Joseph the jealousy and hatred of his brothers. They sold him as a slave, and he was brought down to Egypt. He was a 17-year-old boy from a prominent family, and he found himself a slave, all alone in a strange land with no one to turn to for help.

He was sold to Potiphar, a dignitary, who recognized Joseph’s abilities. Potiphar eventually placed Joseph in charge of the entire household. But then Potiphar’s wife took a liking to him, and when her husband was not around made advances. Joseph rebuffed the advances, and for punishment, she cried to her husband that Joseph tried to accost her.

Potiphar had Joseph thrown into a dungeon. This was a situation that reeked hopelessness. But Joseph looked to make the best of his circumstances by helping others. When the baker and wine keeper were also sentenced to the dungeon he noticed their sadness and reached out to them, interpreting their dreams. Joseph reinvented himself. He wasn’t a free person; he was a prisoner, but he utilized his talents to help others.

When his brothers later descended to Egypt from the famine-struck Canaan to purchase food, rather than exacting revenge, he saw what had happened to him as Divinely orchestrated and providing an opportunity to pave the way for them. When we do something for someone else, we feel alive. We have a purpose. We feel worthy.

Perhaps the answer is to find meaning in all this upheaval in our lives. Take the opportunity to examine the situation around you to find your personal mission.

Preceding labor, a woman experiences a nesting instinct and starts organizing, cleaning, preparing. We can do some internal probing and deep cleaning. Is there some unresolved issue lurking beneath my annoyance and anger? Can I rechannel my emotions to find meaning?

Like a birth fraught with danger and pain but that produces something of exceeding value at the end, we should utilize this time. Pathways that are usually closed expand to make way for a new creation that brings with it promise of great things. We can discover joy in the possibilities of years ahead and the thrill of our purpose in being part of this unique creation.

And this is how we can turn our feelings and our grief into something good ... into “good” grief.