Finding Purpose, Meaning, and Value

Finding meaning, purpose, and value in a time of significant change and loss is a step in both the grieving and healing process.  We might be grieving the loss of a family member or friend, the loss of school and work routine, and everything else that was normal in our lives prior to the global pandemic. It is a time when we have been shaken to the core both professionally and personally. While we might be feeling forced to make sense of difficult life events or experiences, I am inviting you to view this time as an opportunity and as a gift to engage in a part of healing that can give you energy, help make you healthier, and increase your ability to be productive and helpful to others. Making meaning helps jump-start hope, redefines your place in the world, and provides purpose in life. Meaning making also gives a sense of control of the situation because you are acting as a participant in your healing. At the same time, it also helps frame your meaning as part of something bigger in the world.

Reflect upon your sense of meaning, value, and purpose:

  • First, recognize the losses you are grieving and are leading you to want to make meaning in your life.
    • e.g., I miss teaching my students in the classroom. I am grieving the loss of being able to attend larger family gatherings.
  • Make a list of your values and life goals; include your personal, familial, cultural, professional and religious/spiritual values – this is your purpose.
    • e.g., I value health and wellness. I value my family and the ability to provide my children with experiences that bring us joy and laughter. My goal is to support others emotionally who might be struggling.
  • How is your presence and existence significant and valued by others who care about you and the world?
    • e.g., My children rely on me for co-regulation. My friends value my ability to be a good listener. My mom appreciates that I always think about her and include her in my family meals.
  • Are there any creative ways you can find hope and meaning in your life, especially if you find yourself as having little to no free time or space during this pandemic?
    • e.g., Send text messages often to friends and loved ones to check in. Deliver non-perishable food to children in my community with food insecurity. Have a movie or game night with my children at least once on the weekend.

All of these examples are founded in hope. Below, I discuss the importance of hope in our course Back to School During a Pandemic.

You can join the conversation! In Back to School During a Pandemic, Dr. Soma walks alongside professionals, answering your questions and providing insight and support during this trying time. Learn more on our store.

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By Dr. Caelan Soma, PsyD, LMSW

Dr. Caelan Soma, PsyD, LMSW, Chief Clinical Officer, oversees all clinical operations and research at Starr Commonwealth. Dr. Soma provides trauma assessment and trauma-informed, resilience-focused intervention for youth utilizing evidence-based practices, including Starr’s SITCAP© model programs.

About Starr Commonwealth

Starr Commonwealth is dedicated to the mission to lead with courage to create positive experiences so that all children, families, and communities flourish. We specialize in residential, community-based, educational, and professional training programs that build on the strengths of children, adults, and families in communities around the world. To schedule a training or consultation, please contact or call 800-837-5591.