No matter your religious beliefs, grief is something that touches us all. Whether you have reached a turning point in your life or lost a loved one, pain and recovery is a powerful process. It affects us mentally, emotionally, and physically. Today, we sat down with life coach, energy healer, and ordained Rabbi Melinda Bernstein, who helps others transition through critical changes in their lives.

How to Prepare for Grief

When the unthinkable happens, we wonder if we can ever truly prepare for grief and loss. In her work, Rabbi Melinda Bernstein provides many services as a life coach and a spiritual guide. Through her Life Cycle Meetings, in which she counsels others through the many stages of life, Melinda realized that very few people could cope with grief in a healthy, constructive way.

After her own traumatic life experiences, including a painful divorce and her father’s death, Rabbi Bernstein wanted to help others who were grieving move forward with their lives. Although Melinda approaches life after death from her own spiritual perspective, these methods are timeless. Rabbi Bernstein believes that “faith and family are the center of life,” and ritual is a powerful tool that can help us through our grieving process.

Specifically, in the Jewish tradition, the entire family is part of the grieving process after the loss of a loved one. During our talk, Melinda briefly addressed the Jewish traditions during periods of mourning. Shiva is the first week of mourning after the death of a loved one. During this period, the family helps the spirit of the deceased move forward; it is also a period of adjustment for the family as they process their grief and navigate their new lives without their loved one.

Shiva is part of the first month of mourning known as shloshim, which is a crucial time for the soul of the deceased. Those who are still grieving continue to pray for the soul as it continues its journey to rejoin its ancestors in Heaven. Part of this journey is to let go of any shame or guilt it may have felt during its lifetime. At the end of the first year of mourning, the soul has reached its destination.

How Grief Changes You

Understanding the ways that grief changes us is the first step in moving forward with our lives. When we are mourning, we might think what we are feeling is just an emotion. However, grief can impact our mental well-being as well as our physical health.

Mental Effects of Grief

When the source of our grief is when a loved one is dying, we will naturally feel conflicted. We want to keep our family members or friends here on Earth with us, even if their last days are painful. This mental conflict between wanting our loved ones to stay and letting go can be very troubling for us, especially as we are mourning the loss.

Physical Response to Grief

Grief is a powerful emotion, and it can severely impact your physical health. When we mourn a loss or a sudden life change, our minds shut down as we drown in our grief. Although we may not notice the changes in our bodies, the signs are always there.

Rabbi Bernstein shared her personal experience with how her grief affected her. After her father passed away, her own health suffered. It is important to pay attention to our bodies through the grieving process: if something doesn’t look or feel right, it usually isn’t.

The Breaking Point

The final lesson that Melinda shares to those recovering from grief and loss is that everyone reaches a breaking point. Rabbi Bernstein describes this stage as a feeling of desperation. It is the time when you “know” you have to move forward. When you reach this point, you can begin taking steps to create the life you want to live.


Melinda Bracha Bernstein is an ordained rabbi, life coach, and energy healer in southeast Florida. Among her many services, she counsels others on moving forward through the grieving process in person or via phone/Skype sessions. You can find more information about Rabbi Bernstein’s many services on her website.

Do you have a method for dealing with grief? Did the full-body effects of grief surprise you? How is Rabbi Bernstein’s approach different than your own? Let’s have a conversation!