As human beings, we are too familiar with feelings of grief. While it’s natural to feel sadness after losing someone we love, some people embrace their pain with such inner strength that they inspire others by their unshakable faith. Such is the story of Alina, now Yehudit, who faced a heartbreaking loss when her pregnancy abruptly ended at 25 weeks.

Alina’s family immigrated from Odessa, Ukraine, when she was 5 years old. Her grandparents on both sides were Holocaust survivors, and since her childhood, Alina felt it was her responsibility to build a life that would honor her Jewish identity.

As most Jews from the former Soviet Union, Alina’s family had little connection to their heritage. Communism prohibited all religious observances, and Alina had almost no knowledge about Judaism. When Alina was a teenager, her parents separated, and for years she struggled to find inner peace.

Many of her friends escaped their pain and insecurities through drugs and alcohol. Alina eventually realized that the only way she could find purpose was by connecting to something “bigger” than herself and by discovering her Jewish heritage. Fortunately, she lived close to a synagogue, and one day, she walked inside.

Yehudit was welcomed by the Jewish community in Philadelphia and was soon invited to her first Shabbat meal. This was the beginning of her journey. She spent years searching and rebuilding her identity. She joined numerous Jewish learning retreats and eventually went to study in seminaries in Israel and in Machon Chana in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y.

The wisdom Yehudit internalized during those three years of intense studiy created a lifelong safety net of clarity. She realized that authentic growth often comes with challenging experiences that require conviction.

After much contemplation, Yehudit was also able to learn to accept herself despite her struggles and limitations. “Just as the Rebbe accepted everyone and saw each person as a gem, I, too, try to see myself in a positive way. Despite my mistakes and insecurities, I learned to celebrate my progress on every level.”

This mindset created an anchor that helped Yehudit during a very difficult time in her life.

In November 2010, with the help and support of the community, Yehudit was married under a chuppah at Chabad Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights. Rabbi Abraham Shemtov officiated the wedding. His wife, Mrs. Batsheva Shemtov was very impressed with Yehudit’s commitment to her Jewish faith. “When I met Yehudit, she was devoted to building a family with Jewish values. Even when going through a challenge, Yehudit has an inner compass that allows her to hold to her truth.”

Despite many roadblocks, Yehudit never wavered on her commitment to raising her four children with Torah principles. She embraced life with unshakeable faith even during the most difficult of times.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Yehudit was expecting her fifth child. As the entire world was put on hold by the virus, her pregnancy made her feel excited but also unprepared by the new reality. At the time, her marriage was going through a rough patch, and she felt alone and overwhelmed by her circumstances.

In the 25th week of pregnancy, Yehudit started feeling unwell. She went to the emergency room and after receiving the results from the ultrasound test was told that the baby had no heartbeat. Yehudit delivered her son on April 7, 2020—one day before the holiday of Passover. As the Jewish people retold the story of liberation from slavery, Yehudit was facing her biggest test of faith.

While experiencing pain and grief, the young mother leaned on her unconditional connection to G‑d. “I believe that we are connected to our loved ones that have passed away. In the limited time that I spent holding my son, I tried to think of each minute being an entire year, giving him all my love,” she said.

“The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, taught that if you hold part of the essence, you hold all of it. I have learned to live in the moment and to see each experience shared with loved ones as a priceless gift.”

She looks thoughtful. “Blessings come in different ways. We often cannot understand why things happen. Even while crying and grieving for my child, I believe that this pain has a purpose.

“I meditate on the idea that my baby is in a loving, nurturing and beautiful place. I imagine that every soul before birth chooses an earthly mother as a vehicle to this world. I am honored to have been part of my son’s journey.”

She continues, “I stay connected to my child by connecting to spiritual pursuits, such as loving and accepting people, learning Torah and performing commandments. My son has guided and encouraged me to connect to these G‑dly endeavors, and to be mindful and more appreciative of the time with my four beautiful children.

“I have committed myself to live in a way that would make my son proud of his mother, even if we are not physically together,” she concludes resolutely.

According to Jewish tradition, after leaving this world, the soul continues to exist in an infinite space, surrounded by G‑d’s light. There is an ongoing spiritual connection between the living and the deceased. This is not a theoretical concept, but a tangible relationship that can be developed.

Once the Rebbe was visited by a man who lost his only child and was overwhelmed by grief. The Rebbe asked how the father would feel if his son traveled overseas, living in a foreign country from which he could not communicate. Although the separation would be difficult to bear, the man acknowledged that he would be content about his son’s situation.

The Rebbe then inquired if the father would be willing to send his son packages, even if he never received a reply. Of course, the man immediately agreed that he would send such gifts.

The Rebbe then explained that each prayer that the father recites was a special “care package” sent to his son. There is an underlying connection to the souls of the loved ones who passed away. Even though they cannot respond or thank us, they appreciate the special “gift packages” we send them when we perform mitzvot.

I have recently lost two family members, my aunt Vera and my grandmother Zelda. While I miss their physical presence in my life, I continue to feel a deep connection to their essence. I find comfort in the words of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk: “Death is but a change of circumstances, like moving homes.”

Death is an inevitable part of life; thus, time is the most precious commodity of our existence. This knowledge is precisely what makes each moment so valuable and priceless.

May we find comfort in knowing that while our years in this world are finite, the soul relationship continues beyond time. And may this inherently infinite connection bring consolation, serenity and peace.